Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Might as well jump.

I have a low opinion of the notion of attracting a creative culture to the area. It's not that I wouldn't like for it to happen. It's just not going to happen, not with the collection of donut heads running things. Bicycle trails and arts festivals? Pretty, but Puh--lease...

We're on our own.

Here's what I think: West Virginia could use a couple more high profile writers... and I don't mean C grade hacks who talk to bass players. Where is our Stephen King? Where is our John Grisham? Why don't we have a Joyce Carol Oates of our own? All helped out the little, rural places they came from with their books. King was a cottage industry in Maine. His state is very much in his books. The people of his state, good and bad, are in his books.

You want to change the way people think of West Virginia? Don't import ideas. Export 'em. Tell your stories.

From time to time, people ask me about writing and mention writing books, poems, short stories, but they get "the fear" when it comes down to taking it on. There are so many God-damned pages to fill and it's going to sound stupid. Maybe... maybe not and anyway, I am the last person anyone should listen to for good advice about writing, but I know a guy...

A friend and an occasional mentor offers a class. I took this class a year and a half ago and it helped me break a block. Now, I've now got about twenty rejection notices for my novel and I'm deep in miserable, seemingly endless rewrite, but I'm doing it. Sooner or later, I am going to fake my way into a string of books destined for the bargain table and hopefully, a contentious meeting with some library board. It's going to happen and if I can do it, anybody can. You just have to want to.

Geoff can help you get started. Here's his advertisement.

Become a confident writer.

Have you always wanted to write a novel, but aren’t sure how to begin?
Do you have a story that needs to be told, if only you could find the best way to tell it?
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Whether you're new to writing or have already started on a novel, this class is for you.

Fuller will demystify the writing process. His courses are designed to give writers of all skill levels the ability to unlock their imagination and bring their stories to life.

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Call 304.744.4556 to secure your place in the class. Geoff's classes fill quickly, and space is limited.

Note to class participants only: In the past, many students have asked for extra critique, guidance, and mentoring. We are pleased to offer it this year. For an extra $35, you can have a personal, one-on-one session (a value of over $100) that includes detailed critique of your manuscript, advice about the plans for your novel, and suggestions for further work.

3 comments:

2Lane4Life said...

"I have a low opinion of the notion of attracting a creative culture to the area. It's not that I wouldn't like for it to happen. It's just not going to happen, not with the collection of donut heads running things. Bicycle trails and arts festivals? Pretty, but Puh--lease...

We're on our own."

Thank-you. I know now I'm not sitting alone on the Cynic Couch.
:o)
However, I do think the "we" in "We're on our own" are a pretty creative culture already.

Elvis Drinkmo said...

Hell yeah, Bill.

You know, to add to your idea- I'd always thought it would be cool to have a West Virginian or Appalachian Spike Lee. I mean you look at his movies and they're all about character development- characters that neither stereotype or romanticize about his culture. I'd like to see movies about our people that are created in a similar manner.

2 Lane's right- we do have some really creative people around. Let's make our own art!!

Geoffrey said...

Thanks for the plug, Bill. The class is shaping up well; I’m trying some new things that should add quite a bit.

About King/Grisham/Oates: While none of our authors have achieved the impossible heights of those—two of them, anyway—we have our share. More or less. I’d say that Coonts (_Flight of the Intruder_) measures up to Grisham in the popular fiction category. (Although I hope he researches better; Grisham once had a character flush a toilet on a Greyhound bus; he doesn’t seem to know worlds outside his moneyed circles.)

While we don’t have anyone nearly as prolific as King, we do have a few horror writers hereabouts. A press down in Logan has been putting out collections of short stories that are pretty good—mostly from WV writers, one of which is me--and has a how-to-write-horror offering coming out in a couple of months. In fact, King is in that book, as are Campbell and some other nationally known horror writers, as well as some WV authors, myself included.

Down in this part of the state, you’re all familiar with Giardina and her historical fiction, but you may not be aware of a few from north of here – Phillips (Buckhannon), Currey (Clarksburg), Pritchard (Morgantown) – that are all nationally known and write very well. Phillips and Currey are WV ex-pats and tend to be at their best with the dark and foreboding (analogous to Breece Pancake), and Currey’s book, _Fatal Light_, is one of the best Vietnam era books I’ve read.

For my money, Pritchard is the best of the three (probably because she still lives in WV). Her work is odd, funny, disconcerting, and insightful, often at the same time. Her books (_CRACKPOTS_ and _lately_) tend to be semi-pseudoautobiographical and have had glowing reviews in the New York Times. She’s also written short stories for New Yorker and several literary rags.

I’m leaving many authors out—Maillard, Grubb, Kinder, Maynard, Odermann, Walker, and a couple dozen small-press authors—but I just wanted to plug a few of my favorites (not counting Coonts—I was never able to get through the Intruder book, not my sort of thing). And I haven’t even touched on poets like Anderson, McKinney, Mann, Fuller (not me) because I don’t read much poetry.

Maybe our problem isn’t lack of writers, but lack of good public relations people.

Thanks again for the plug, and you should think about coming to class one night. Seriously.