Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Walking Backwards to Move Forward

As I first explained in January of 2011, FictionDoldrums is my attempt to fill a void. There is a great deal of verbal and written conversation about how-to write a novel, and how to find an agent and a publisher. It is nearly all advice from those who have found success and are doling out their impressions after the fact. What I set out to do was share the painfully slow and halting process as went through it. At the time, I had worked for about ten months to complete the manuscript for my first novel Good For Nothing. I had a rough draft, a little support and general plan. 

In the Spring of 2010 I went to an event in which my friend and former instructor Audrey Niffenegger was speaking. She greeted me warmly when she saw me and I was truly happy to see her too. Toward the end of the event, a member of the audience asked Audrey who she enjoyed reading. She mentioned a couple of novelists and then said, "And sitting right here among us is Brandon Graham. He writes very fun, short fiction." She pointed me out and everyone turned to look at me. It was very kind of her. After the the event we spoke again briefly and made plans to have coffee together. 
I had first met Audrey in the fall 2005 when I stepped into her class at Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book and Paper Arts. It was the first semester of my MFA, where I was intent on studying visual and written narrative. I had been writing at irregular intervals for more than fifteen years before I arrived at the program and had studied under a number of talented writers. But Text 1 with Audrey changed the way I thought about my writing. I left that class a much better and more confident writer. While Audrey is known widely as the Author of numerous books and as a great visual artist. I think of her as the best writing teacher I ever had. She wanted to teach exactly what I was ready to learn. 
Printer's Row Lit Fest
A few weeks after the reading, I met Audrey for coffee. Coffee turned into lunch. Lunch turned into a walk through Printer's Row and a long conversation about publishing. In the end Audrey encouraged me to get to work on my novel, along with some more specific advice. And so, buoyed by Audrey's kind words, I began writing. About the time I was wrapping up the first draft, I started this blog. 

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