My Life in Heavy Metal

steve almond, heavy metal, book, authorI may be a late bloomer to Steve Almond’s book My Life in Heavy Metal, but I’m glad I picked it up on my most recent trip through the Harvard Book Store.  I sat in on a session with Steve at this year’s Muse and the Marketplace literary event hosted by Grub Street and found him quite funny.

I grew up listening to heavy metal––Ozzy, Metallica, Ratt, Poison, G&R, Aerosmith––you name it, but wasn’t as adventurous with the ladies and my relationships as detailed in the first chapter of his book. Maybe I should’ve waited to finish the book so that I could have given you a more detailed review, but if the rest of the book reads as the first chapter did, well, I’d make it one of my suggested readings to all of my friends.

His more popular book, Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, is a non-fiction story about small candy companies doing it the old-fashioned way. My candy vice growing up was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Can’t wait for Halloween. Hopefully I can score a few freebie style!

But back to heavy metal, here’s an essay flashback of one of my metal stories for you to read when you got a minute: Driving Around With Metal Heads Without Seatbelts.

10 Steps to a Kickass Essay – Writing Tips

Greetings Writers!

I just returned from a rejuvenating and inspiring 3-days at Grub Street‘s The Muse and The Marketplace literary conference in Boston.  I live in Boston so it wasn’t to much of a hike.  The sessions were all fantastic and the panelists gave me so much information that it’ll probably take a good week to digest it all.  I even got to meet and listen to Amanda Palmer give a very touching Keynote address.

On the last day of the conference I attended the session called: 10 Steps to a Kickass Essay, hosted by Ann Hood.  You can find her on Twitter: @annhood56. These writing tips were so insightful that I wanted to share what I learned with everyone.  Here are my notes.  Feel free to steal and share as needed.

1.  Write like an orphan.
Hold back emotionally.
If your motive is revenge, no one will want to read it.  Those type of essays lack depth.
If your writing about someone who was died, don’t mythologize the person.

2.  A personal essay is about just one thing.  Only one topic.

3.  Every personal essay is really two things:  what’s on the surface, and what bubbles underneath.
External thing + Internal thing.
Make sure there is a concrete story.

4.  Make sense of the events.  You don’t report them, you make sense of them.
Open the essay with event.  Don’t trick the reader or leave it until the end.
When writing about a hot topic, write it cold.
You report, then you reflect

5.  Push past the ending that makes sense.
Add a line or two after the closing sentence.
Go beyond the Norman Rockwell ending.

6.  “What do you know now that you did not know then.”
Force yourself to come to a realization.

7.  Power of Once.  The use of flashback.  Don’t top load the essay in flashback.  If you start with a flashback, the whole essay will be in the flashback.

8.  Objective Correlative:  The author uses an event or an object to stand in for an emotion.

9.  You need to write well!  A personal essay is not a  bundle of emotions.  It’s not a journal entry.

10.  Don’t write what you know, write what you don’t know about yet.

 

 

11 Good Quotes for Writers

quote, fortune cookie, literary, writing, trees, writer, grub street, quotesAre you writing a memoir or a non-fiction book project?  I went back over my notes from last weekend’s AWP Writing Conference in Boston.  Here are some great quotes that I wrote down from two separate sessions: The Art of the Non-Fiction Idea and The Urge Toward Memoir.

Since I’m learning just as much as the next person, I was too busy feverishly writing notes to remember who actually said these great one-liners.  If you know who said it, feel free to send me a note.  Wouldn’t some of these quotes look good inside fortune cookies?  This images is from a fortune cookie that I was given at the Grub Street booth.  You guys rock!

Here’s 11 Good Quotes for Writers to Think About.

“Date around before you marry an idea.”

“Will your idea pass the cocktail party test?”

“You need to be able to sell your idea in two minutes.”

“Tell the stories that only you can tell.” ~ Ethan Gilsdorf

“Test out your ideas in short form first.”

“Build up your authority in your niche.”

“Virality = will your writing piece circulate and go viral online?”

“Your project is a balance between you and your voice and the topic.”

“You have to have control of your story just like your novel.  Your readers are dying to know what’s next.”

“All of life is a cover story.”

“Your family will not see things from your point of view.”

AWP13 – My first writing conference

awp13, awp, writing, conference, boston, 2013

Since we were experiencing shitty weather in Boston and usually not too many people will venture out to visit the gallery when it’s raining or snowing, I opted to spend the weekend at my very first writing conference––AWP13, organized by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

There is a two-fold reason that I wanted to attend AWP:  The first reason is, I like writing and I like reading journals.  The second reason is, many of these literary journals and books are using photography more often on their covers and I wanted to connect with them and introduce them to my gallery and the artists that I represent.

I attended this event on Friday and Saturday, sat through a few panel discussions and cruised through the book fair.  The panels were jammed packed––I’m talking fire hazard packed!  I’m glad I used the coat check––it might have been cold and snowy outside, however it was a heat box in there!

The book fair was well-attended and was located on two floors.  I actually got confused walking through it and realized that I was going in circles.  I took multiple passes on many booths.  I had a good time talking with all of the vendors and made some new friends on Twitter.  I got tons of shwag that I’m still sifting through.

I’m looking forward to my next literary conference in May, Grub Street‘s The Muse and The Marketplace.

My introduction to Grub Street

Now, let me clarify.  There are two Grub Streets – one is a website about restaurant and dining suggestions – (a foodie’s wet dream), and the other is a literary haven for people who are interested in writing.  I am writing about the latter.

Grub Street, located on Boylston St in Boston is a non-profit organization that hosts writing and publishing workshops for people of all ages.  They make people better writers and assist writers who are set on making writing a career.

I was introduced to Grub Street by my friend Debbie Hagan, former Editor-in-Chief at Art New England Magazine.  She knew I was very serious about my writing and knew I was looking for a little guidance on my memoir.

Last week I attended my first two workshops at Grub Street.  The first: So You Want to Be a Writer in 2013 and Beyond with Ethan Gilsdorf (twitter = @ethanfreak)

The second was: Writing the Killer Nonfiction Book Proposal with Katrin Schumann (twitter = @katrinschumann).

The classes here are small (8-12 students) and run the gamut with students who were just starting out and others who have finished manuscripts and needed direction.  I fall somewhere in between.  Both classes were great and were led by published authors who had real world experience.  Since I have already gone to school and earned a B.F.A and a M.F.A. I wasn’t planning to re-enroll in another degree-seeking program.  These workshops are designed to give a lot of information in a short amount of time.  The first workshop was only three hours long, while the second was six hours long.  Listening to my classmates talk about their books got my creative juices pumpin’ and I am ready to get back to work on mine.

I dreaded writing my Master’s thesis and that was only twenty-two pages long.  I’m guessing that it had to do with the structure because the content – photography – is my passion.

I’ll be posting more on Grub Street in the future.  It was cool to see this as soon as I exited the elevator onto their floor.  I knew I was in the right place!

Grub Street