The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog

All the latest news, ideas, and opinions from Denver's Independent Literary Center:

Intern’s report: Writing in Changing times

Ed note: Lighthouse brings on an intern each summer to keep us current and help them see some of the writing world first-hand. This year Brian Kiteley recommended a remarkable young woman named Laurel Smith, who’s a senior at the University of Denver.  Here’s her first report from Lit Fest:

Let me start by introducing myself. I am a 22-year-old writer getting ready to enter the big scary post college world with nothing but a degree in memoir and ambition in hand. Interning at the Lighthouse is the final bridge I will cross before I get my degree, and my last chance to soak up all the knowledge I can to help me survive in the real world.

Last night I went to Lit Fest’s first salon ready to start filling my real world survival kit. I joined a roomful of other writers at the swanky Baurs restaurant with pen, paper and of course a glass of Melbec in hand. Novelist Laura Hendrie began the discussion of writing in the changing times. She spoke of her own experiences and a time when she could survive simply by writing, and how now she has to be part of the real world to make a living doing what most writers including herself dread; math.

Great, I sighed. For me, these aren’t changing times, but rather the only I’ve known and I am entering it knowing that writers who have been successful their entire careers are doing math to pay the bills.

Literary non-fiction writer Harrison Candelaria Fletcher joined Laura in the discussion. Earlier in his life Harrison had the kind of job young graduates like myself can only dream about: he was a columnist, but he quit that job. Wait…What? He had steady income as a writer and he quit. Being the young unemployed writer that I am, this was hard to understand. Harrison went on to explain that he was tired of getting up at 5:30am to go write in his basement. Okay, now that is something I can understand. “You have to separate writing for money and writing for love,” he said.

Great! I exclaimed. I have never been paid for my writing, and I love it. I must be on the right track to becoming a great writer.

For those of you who missed out on the salon or were too busy sipping your martinis to whip out a pen, here are the final tips given by the Laura and Harrison.

Laura’s Tips:
1. Read to find your own standards.
2. Learn to be alone with yourself.
3. Remember you are in the world (not necessarily of it), and should take in all you can.
4. In times of spasm or transition make a record of what you think and feel.
5. Shape everything important to you into writing.
6. Don’t pretend that you’re free of everything around you.
7. Think for yourself. Know what you think and put it out there.

Harrison’s Tips:
1. Subscribe to literary magazines.
2. Join a writing group. This will sustain you when all else fails.
3. Go to readings and support what you do.
4. Buy literature from small bookstores.
5. Write what you want to read.

If you missed last night’s salon, don’t panic. There’s another salon tonight at 8 at 910 Arts (910 Santa Fe Dr.) Tonight’s topic: obsession. Hope to see you there!


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This entry was posted on June 13, 2009 by in Cool Events, LitFest, Member dispatches.

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