Friday, September 11, 2009

The Craft Talk

This post and the previous one are old emails I sent out in the summer of 2005 when I was at an art colony, and writer Lorrie Moore was also there. The colony organized a "craft talk" with us writers and Moore, in the dining room of one of the houses there, with all of us at the long table.

On the subject of writing about one’s family members, but being worried about what they might think, Moore said that she was recently at a conference with lots of other famous writers, including David Sedaris and Rick Moody, and they all said that none of their family members read their stuff -- not their siblings, or parents, and certainly not their children. “Children, thank goodness, are never interested in what a parent is writing.”

Someone in our group asked, “What about spouses?”

Moore said, “Hmm, well. I guess I didn’t include spouses as family.”

Frank asked her if the Center director had picked her up from the airport on his bicycle the night before.

“No,” she said, “But I think I offended him. He was telling me about these famous quotes that he has put up around his office -- things from Kant, and Thoreau, and so on like that, and I said, ‘What, no Judy Garland?’ I think he took offense at that. I was just trying to make a joke.”

I was waiting for Frank to try to embarrass me. At one point, our group sort of broke up in laughter, and Frank joined in with an artificial “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Moore noticed this. “Oh, that,” she said, looking straight at him through the commotion. “Well, that was more of a scream,” she said, very seriously.

Frank said, “No, I was saying that, because it follows from something he said.” He pointed at me.

But by then, we had all moved on.

Humor in writing had to come up. Someone asked her how to include humor in work. Moore said that some people have spent their lives looking at things a funny way, and in their writing, they find they can make connections like that as well. “But I have a problem with being silly,” she said. “I have to work to keep that in check.”

Really? So what we get in her published work is silliness in check?

What writers does she recommend that we read? Alice Munro, among others. There is a strong Grace Paley contingent here, and someone in the room named her, but Moore said, “Oh, maybe. I used to be, really. But not as much any more.”

1 comment:

svetx said...

Well, Judy Garland is a little offensive . . .