Tag Archives: Memoir

The Writer’s Hotel Conference Part II

 

 

Thursday and Friday were long full, days. I took the C train from the Kingston-Throop station to Bryant Park each morning, had workshop at the Casablanca Hotel from 8:30-11, quick break for lunch, then went on a tour at the New York Public Library on Thursday, followed by a seminar on Writing Performance, a lecture on Revision, followed by an open mic. Friday I went to a lecture on The Novel in the afternoon and then a reading at the Cornelia Street Café and KGB bar after a quick coffee and sushi stop in the West Village with my new writing friends Tom and Carolyn. After the readings Friday, I attempted to go to a show at the Comedy Cellar, but I had no reservations and didn’t want to waitlist so instead I went to The Grisly Pear, a B comedy club a couple doors down (pretty sure Pete Holmes filmed an episode of his HBO show Crashing here). The comics were still good.

After some two stiff drinks at each place I was feeling pretty toasted and so took the train back to Brooklyn, weaving down the sidewalk as I walked back to the Brownstone I was staying at.

Saturday I slept in till 9. Justine made coffee. I chatted for a bit with her then headed back to the City for lectures from Steven Salpeter from the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Kevin Larimer, the editor in chief of Poets and Writers Magazine. I finally had an afternoon off so I walked uptown for a quick rest in Central Park, stopping for a late lunch at Rue 67, a French-inspired restaurant. Many people, thousands really, were all strewn on the lawns shirtless and in bikini tops in the middle of the Park, soaking up the Saturday June sun of one of the first hot days of summer. I tried to take a nap but just more or less just closed my eyes for a moment. After a quick stop at the horrendous Central Park public bathrooms, I took the R back downtown to Third Rail Coffee to prepare for my reading. The sun and humidity slowly wrapped me in a blanket of sweat and dizziness.

I read that night at the KGB bar and knocked it out of the park. Then I went out for drinks and food with everyone after. It was a great day. And, also my birthday.

Sunday was a bit more depressing. It was agent day so after a morning of workshop where I got some good feedback on a novel about Utah I was starting, we had a brief orientation on what the afternoon would look like. We’d all line up in a queue in front of a specific agent and then have four minutes to pitch them our book. Then we were told we’d either get a card or email, or simply a polite, “No thank you, this isn’t for me.” I felt nervous, but ready.

I pitched my book:

“It’s More Like Horror is a memoir about youth, faith, and depression,” I said. “It’s about depression in everyday life and follows me on a journey from Denver to Portland to Salt Lake City as the romantic ideals of my zealous evangelical youth are met with the realities of death, suicide, miscarriages, and a loss of faith.” But the first agent merely looked at me blankly and said, “Memoir’s are tough.”

There were ten agents in total and around half were only interested in genres I didn’t write in, so I skipped them completely. Pretty much all of the agents said the same thing: The idea was interesting but memoirs were tough to sell unless I had a crazy platform or insane writing credits. One gave me some good feedback to focus on the story of leaving my faith rather than depression, as depression was a subtext of the story. I thought this was good advice but at the same time, my story wasn’t some salacious tale of leaving a repressed religious community, although, who knows, maybe that would sell if I were to frame it like that. Suffice to say the afternoon was discouraging. Good feedback and learning experience I guess, but no one was all like, “OH my god, send me this book now!” So, now I am left once again to rethink my book, a book I’ve already spent nearly five years on. I may just be too young to write a memoir at this point. That’s how it goes I guess though. As Scott, one of the main faculty of the program told us in a good debriefing/motivational speech/boxing analogy, the next day: “You’ve put the gloves on, you’ve stepped into the ring, now you better expect to get hit. Then you keep punching back.”

 

Monday was our last day. One final workshop and lecture followed by a reading at The Half King, a bar in Chelsea underneath The Highline where we heard a hilarious piece by Rick Moody, some moving poetry by Tim Seibles and some excellent fiction from both Scott and Shanna.

I took the A train back to Brooklyn, packed, passed out on the couch, and woke up next morning to head back to SLC via JFK.

It was all in all, a fantastic trip, though I may need to hibernate for some time in a cave alone so I can sleep, process, and rethink my writing. I also may need a new liver transplant. But hey, it’s all-good, I’m one stop further down the tracks to becoming a professional, published writer. It all takes time.

 

 

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Christmas Blues

 

He had to work the day after Christmas. It was cruel. Grotesque. Unfair. Gone were the college and school days of two weeks off for Christmas. Unmet too was the normal adult vacation days you would receive as you got older. He was now in limbo.

He woke up with the darkness. He lied in bed. Tried to shake the heaviness off. The world awaited him far away. He was still holed up in a cave, a womb of blankets and post-sleep weariness and possibly post-partum depression caused by the baby Jesus. Was he in a coma? Was he in a world far away? Was he in a cabin in the tundra, where snowdrifts piled up on the outside log walls creating an insulated sound? Was there a fireplace? He hoped so. But he could not hear it.

His wife had to work too. She was already gone. Left at 8:30 this morning. He was going to work from home. But as he lay there he knew that if he worked from home he would only feel the darkness more, probably end up spending the majority of his day looking at boobs on a computer screen. So he left for work. Put his pants on.

It wasn’t too bad. He had his dog and his cigarettes to keep him company. He had after all been expecting this. The post-Christmastime darkness. It was inevitable. All the build up and shiny lights and sparkly presents. The joyful nature in the air. The sense of peace and joy and being with loved ones. The days following were no match. After December there was quite the lull in days to look forward to. In the fall there was Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then New Years. But in January, what was there in the future? Easter? Columbus day? Valentines Day? Those were all pretty shitty holidays compared to Christmas. Not much time off either.

Even New Years wasn’t that good. In fact, he thought of New Years as the most anti-climactic night in history. Nothing happened. You drank champagne. Watched a ball drop from the sky. It was always disappointing. One night in high school he had snuck out to go to a party on New Years Eve. He never went to parties but he decided that he needed to go to at least one raging high school party before he graduated. He didn’t drink much. I mean, he knew how to drink, he just didn’t do it much. The guilt of lying to his parents and telling them he was spending the night at Adams almost made the party unbearable. He would have to get drunk. So that night he got drunk and wandered around and realized he didn’t know people as well as he thought he was. He tried to fit in. Who knows if he did a good job. It was pretty boring actually. Movies and T.V. have a way of making high school and college parties look epic. He had never been to one of these. Mostly it was just crowded. Sure, there were drunk people and the random girl who would kiss you but that was about it. Maybe he lived in the wrong places. The girl he liked, who had invited him to this party, kept ignoring him and everyone else said the same thing to him, “I didn’t know you drank!” Eventually he met some snowboarders and they offered to get him high, which he did, in the back of a green jeep. He had never been drunk and high. He felt like he was walking on the moon. He even tried to jump down the gravel road like there was no gravity. Then he got sick and stared at a wall for an indiscernible amount of time while everyone gathered to watch some “ball” drop. And this was one of the more memorable New Years Eves. He couldn’t even remember what he did last year.

He knew that the days after Christmas would simply feel empty. Not too much more than usual. But slightly. He couldn’t take time off. Not just because he was American and addicted to work, but because he was the owner of a small business. As the owner of a small business you don’t get days off. Very rarely. His only comfort was that, as the owner of a small business, perhaps one day he would receive the accolades of fame, glory, and hundred dollar bills, or an early retirement that might await him at the end of this venture. Otherwise what was it all for?

He didn’t know if he wanted to sleep or drink or watch movies or what. He should probably exercise. Work might actually feel good. Make him feel as if he was doing something.

His chemical pill was in his black jean coin pocket. He knew if he swallowed it with a glass of water it would make him feel dizzy. But if he didn’t take it he would go down a dark rabbit hole.

 He had to make this decision every day. Whether or not he wanted to feel the dizziness or the darkness. Some days he chose dizzy. Some days darkness.

He felt empty. Dizzy. Probably had to do with his relationship with The Father. Or The Mother. Or The Son. Or lack thereof.

He counted the days left. He was twenty-five. If he lived to be eighty that would be fifty-five years of life. 55 X 365=20,075 days left on this earth. Twenty-thousand and seventy-five days left.

Oh god, working the day after Christmas is so depressing. 

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