October in the ‘Burgh seems to bring a burst of literary events to our town. I think that is because of the growing visibility, strength and supportive nature of Pittsburgh’s literary community which is fueled by the various writing programs at our local universities and the creative mojo that powers this region.
I’ve written previously about how Pittsburgh’s vibrant literary scene has been one of my surprises about living here. I don’t think many cities have what we have. It’s very special.
On Thursday evening, Rainbow Rowell appeared at the library for a talk and book signing. I haven’t read any of her books yet, but The Girl is a big fan. When she heard that Ms. Rowell was going to be in town, she pleaded with me for several weeks to get tickets. Despite this being a school night, I acquiesced. Seeing her unrestrained excitement made me glad I did.
Yesterday, the great folks from Barrelhouse brought their fantastic Conversations and Connections writing conference back to Chatham University. This was my second year attending and once again, this conference was outstanding. It lives up to its name: you get the chance to have wonderful conversations with authors and make connections with small press publishers and editors of journals. As a writer, it gives you validation with a kick in the ass.
I’m planning separate posts recapping each of these happenings, but today I’m flat-out exhausted. I slept for 12 hours last night and needed every minute. Managing life on the homefront is taking a tremendous amount of mental energy lately and by the end of the week, I am depleted. (This week, I felt like I’d reached that point by lunchtime on Monday.)
On the reading front, not too much to report. I finally finished listening to The John Cheever Audio Collection. I’ll likely read more of his short stories at some point, but this collection served my purpose of getting acquainted with his work. Among these 12 stories, my favorites were “The Enormous Radio,” “The Five Forty-Eight,” “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor,” and “The Brigadier and the Golf Widow.” There are a few others that I listened to while somewhat distracted (always a good state of mind for driving) and that I need to revisit in print.
My current read is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m not necessarily an Elizabeth Gilbert fan — I have no inclination to read Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things was a DNF for me — but I am liking this book a lot. Most creativity books I’ve read tend to give overused and simplistic suggestions for discovering your creativity and making time to pursue your passion. That’s all fine and well and good. For me, Big Magic is a little different: it’s about addressing the fear that holds us back, the spirituality that’s such a big part of the ideas we have, and the work of capturing them and nurturing them into life.
Hope you are having a great weekend!
What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library’s vast reading room. It’s filled with people–students and faculty and strangers who’ve wandered in. They’re seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they’re all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they’ll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon’s literary intake….
That’s what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it’s all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week’s Salon get together–at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones–and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one’s earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.