Recently, I was interviewed by the Weekender for ZineFest and perhaps I rambled. One comment I made really rang true: “People take for granted what is available to them locally. Like with big bands, we love them, yes, but there is a lot of good local music. In the same way, we local writers may not be the ideal ‘great American novelists’ but there is a wealth of quality creativity in this area.”
Would I like my book to sell enough copies that I could actually pay my student loans off? Heck yes. But to me, as most writers will agree, it’s about the actual creating of the works, the process of writing itself, and the community networking that is the prize. The pay-off comes when you have even two people to listen to and appreciate what you’ve done.
My brother, finally bursting with pride for my recent degree, keeps greeting me in this manner: “Hello, great American novelist!” I laugh every time. Especially because my project hasn’t been about selling books. The important thing is not the nice parchment on my wall that announces that I have my M.A. in Creative Writing. The most important part, for me, was the journey that lead me to that.
Before I could ever write, a neighbor told my mom, “She’s going to be a writer.” Maybe it was the way I gazed at the stars, delighted in the lightning bugs (that’s what we call them in the South), or stared off into the distance for long periods of time. We had a project in first grade. We were given blank books with hard covers. We were told to write our own book. By second grade, I fell in love with poetry. In fact, I struck up a friendship merely because her dad was a local poet. To my seven-year-old self, this was bigger than my (yes, I’ll admit it) undying love for the New Kids on the Block. (Hey, I was seven, okay? Every generation will have its boy band.) A professor of poetry? Wow. He’s now the director of Virginia Tech’s Creative Writing department. If you see Ed Falco, tell him “hello” and “thanks again!” for me.
Somewhere in college (dark times) I lost sight of my inclinations to write and perform and create music. Wilkes University gave that back to me. It was like prying a metal sculpture of a fetus apart at times, I won’t lie. I’ll admit, too, that I struggled with a lot of things when I came here. I was not happy here, but the creative community reached out to me and helped me be the most successful I’ve been in all my creative days. I owe that thanks to Paper Kite Press and Book Store, Wilkes University’s Creative Writing Department and writers and friends, especially to my mentor for his patience and unyielding support.
Transplanted into the pot-holed, high-tax and “corrupt” Luzerne County, I found gemstones. There seems to be a resurgence of creativity in the area and it’s there if you seek it out. Scranton has a billion things to do, but don’t forget to look around the Wilkes-Barre area, especially now that the weather is nice.
Over the bridge into Kingston, there is a lovely bookstore called Paper Kite Books (www.paperkitepress.com). The square now has “Art Seen” Gallery. There is ArtsYOUniverse (http://www.artsyouniverse.com/7.html) There are also all the college galleries and local bands. What the area is lacking, however, is a nice independent coffee shop, like Northern Light in Scranton. Had I the financial means, I would open one in downtown W-B. The high school Rachael had dreams of having her own quaint little coffee bar and poetry venue…
Well, thanks for listening to me ramble. My point is: write, find writers, support local artists and believe in your potential to create something worthwhile.
Be well and get out to the park on this glorious return of spring, however temporary it might be. Carpe Diem, baby.
Rock and write on,