Some of you may have noticed that on the Reading List page, I’ve been adding how I chose the book or books I’m currently reading. Well, the story of how I chose Abigail Thomas’ Thinking About Memoir seemed too long to add on that page.
Talk about one thing leading to another….
Because of listening to the CD that came with The Writer’s Notebook , I wanted to know if I was at Tin House when they recorded the panel. So I got out my notes. And yes, I have notes from that panel in 2005. I think it was during that panel that Abigail Thomas was sitting right behind me. But that would be too coincidental. Memory is so weird. Anyway, she was at Tin House either that year or the year before, or both.
When I was there in 2004, I was taking a workshop with Dorothy Allison. In class, Dorothy had us do one of Abigail Thomas’ writing exercises (which happens to be in this book). So rereading my notes, I had Abigail on the brain. I went to her website and saw that she had a new book out. I’ve read her three novels and one other memoir by her.
A few hours later, I was in Barnes & Noble buying summer reading for my 15-year-old (I wanted to). When I turned around, Abigail’s adorable little book was staring at me. I picked it up and it felt just right in my hands at 7 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches and a 1/2 inch thick.
This chain of events meant I was supposed to buy it, right?
Anyway, I’m on page 52, and it’s great. More of substance later.
Will you be attending the Tin House this summer? You make me extremely jealous when you write about it, yet I can’t stop reading. Do tell more.
This year I went to Sirenland so I won’t be going to Tin House. There are links to both of these conferences on the Links Page.
Tin House takes place on the campus of Reed College. It’s a week long. Workshops are in the morning and last approximately 3 hours. Lunch is served on campus. We would usually sit outside. In the afternoons there were panels on various aspects of writing and publishing. Around five, there would be faculty readings. Oh, and here are my notes from 2004. Abigail Thomas said, “I can’t write fiction anymore. It feels trivial.” No reference to her for 2005. In the evenings, there would be readings. One of the really cool things about Tin House was their outdoor amphitheater that looked over a lake. They served wine in plastic cups and we sat under the stars listening to Mark Strand and James Salter….
I like trying different conferences, and I’ve decided I like the smaller ones the best because there’s less of a distinction made between the students and the faculty.
I love writerly coincidence stories like this. That’s actually how I met Pam. I read one of her stories in some lit magazine and I thought, “Gee this seems familiar.” So I dug through some old files and found a story of hers I’d saved from another lit magazine because I liked her work so much. A few days later I was looking for writing workshops in New Mexico because my sister was living there at the time, and I saw she was teaching at Taos. I had to look up her biography after that, I saw that she did Postcards from Colorado for CBS Sunday morning, and I freaked out. I actually taped an episode of that show and never taped over it because I loved her essay about buying a ranch in colorado and finally putting down roots. So many coincidental collisions with her that I registered for her class immediately, and I took the last spot. The rest is history. The question I have is… are the little coincidences like this happening all the time and we just don’t notice them? Do we just notice them when we’re ready, when we’re looking for something? Thanks for reminding me to be on the lookout for the universe pointing me in the right direction. 🙂
“…are the little coincidences like this happening all the time and we just don’t notice them? Do we just notice them when we’re ready, when we’re looking for something? Thanks for reminding me to be on the lookout for the universe pointing me in the right direction.”
Okay, this is getting really weird. Just clicked on a link in a tweet by Dani Shapiro, one of my favorite writers who teaches at Sirenland, about an essay on the pitfalls of writing memoir…and who is mentioned in the essay?
That’s right–Abigail Thomas.
Great essay, by the way. Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-marion-winik21-2009jun21,0,5339695,full.story.
Aha! What is the universe trying to tell you? 🙂
That’s what I want to know!