Troy Author Day

Hey, everyone, I hope you are enjoying a day off and are having a chance to relax and possibly read some newly published work. *wink wink* *nudge nudge*

I’ve talked about Troy Author Day before, but as it is on Saturday, I wanted to direct you to the website for the event. What has been created is pretty fantastic. Twenty-three local authors will be signing copies of their work, and there will be two panel discussions. One about the creative aspect of writing (I’m on that one) and another that is all about the business of writing.

The best part, it’s free to attend. So follow the link to the site and check out all the authors who will be in attendance. I think you’ll be surprised at the list of award-winning heavy hitters.

Once you’ve scheduled us on your calendar, feel free to get back to that awesome novel. See you on Saturday.

TROY AUTHOR DAY

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

12-3 PM at The Troy Public Library

​100 2nd Street, Troy, NY 12180 — (518) 274-7071

Twenty of the Capital District’s most popular authors will gather to meet readers, autograph books, and discuss their work. Drop in for a few minutes, or stay the whole time.

THE EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Select authors will participate in two panel discussions: one about their creative processes and another about publishing. Seating for the panel discussions will be limited. CLICK HERE for more info.

Copies of the authors’ books will be available for purchase. Market Block Books will donate a portion of each sale to the Troy Public Library.

DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE FLYER.

For more information, please contact Carolyn Fagan. Below is a list of the featured authors. We hope to see you there!

Click here and see who will be there.

Permission

 

I was recently asked who told me I could be a writer. It wasn’t a sarcastic question, just someone who was curious about whether, if at some point, a teacher, professor, author, etc. had pulled me aside and said, “You can do this.”

No. And there’s good reason for that. I was not the child who knew he wanted to write. I liked reading, I liked scary movies, I liked telling stories. But writing? No, that’s not something I ever considered. Until I did.

So I guess that’s why I have a problem with the premise that an “anointed one” bestowed upon me the conviction to go down this road.

It didn’t work like that at all.

I wrote because I felt compelled, because somewhere along the way–I think college–I decided that I could write stories. All points suggested I was crazy. Even a professor, who after I made an offhand comment to about writing said, “Oh, you’ll have time for that later.”

Clearly I ignored her.

I do know where she was coming from, though. I understand limitations. I was objective enough to realize I have skills with language, having a masters in English education. I did not think: Surgeon, or Engineer, or Actor. But at the same time, I believe we need to allow ourselves the freedom to decide what we’d like out of our own lives.

I never asked anyone for permission to become a parent. And parenting is a far more daunting task than writing a novel.

Therefore, if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way. If it’s through more education, or a career change, or an entre paradigm shift in your life, you will find the road. And once you do, I guarantee that people will laugh at you.

And you will second guess yourself.

That’s why I didn’t talk to anyone about writing. I didn’t want to hear the comments. I’m stubborn enough that I just plowed ahead, rejection after rejection, but also sensitive enough to know that those “outsider” comments were all the criticism I could handle.

This isn’t to say it was easy, that is didn’t hurt, that I didn’t want to quit a thousand times over. But I never did. Because I envisioned what my life would be like if I suddenly didn’t write. If I suddenly had this void. That did the trick.

Had I been reliant on someone else’s approval, though, had I forged this path because of his or her advice, I can see how that conversation would have been different: Maybe this person was wrong. It’s not my fault. I’m too _____________ to make this happen (fill in the blank as needed).

I see this defeatist proposition with my students as they’re preparing to graduate and head off to college. They don’t know what they want. They don’t know who they are. And as much as they claim independence, they’d love nothing more than someone to take them by the hand and say, “Here, this way.”

And that frightens me. Because it’s not only them.

I want people to behave as ignorantly as I have. I want them to choose themselves and go forth. I don’t want them to wait to be chosen. This may sound irrational, but so what? Life is irrational.

Be brave. Be unafraid to fail. Listen to yourself.

I give you permission.

Motivation

My eldest daughter turns eight today. A little less than nine years ago my world came to a grinding halt when my wife asked me to stop at the pharmacy. I was twenty-five, recently married and searching for a house. And, of course, I was working on becoming a writer.

I distinctly remember a conversation my wife and I had about a month after the realization that we were going to be parents had settled in. We talked about the changes coming, our lack of preparedness, and our overall thrill. And then my wife said, about my writing, “I know this will change everything for you, the amount of time you will have, and I’m sorry for that.”

I was crushed. Not only because she was right, but because I was so transparent. I was, indeed, scrambling to figure out how I was going to be a father, husband, homeowner, teacher, AND writer. More than that, her words hurt, because being sorry wasn’t anywhere near what I wanted her to be feeling. The conversation altered my perspective, because I knew right then that for my marriage to work, and for me to be the best father possible, I needed to straighten out my priorities. Writing mattered, but not nearly as much as family.

Somehow we made it through those zombie days of infancy, and through it all, I kept writing. My schedule shifted to early mornings, because it was a race to see if I could write before the morning feeding. Once our daughter was old enough, and slept through, I’d become accustomed to the hours and kept them. They served me well as three years later, we had our second daughter and two years after that This Side of Normal was published.

However, being a parent to an infant is difficult, but being a father to two toddler girls is wonderful and all-encompassing. My wife and I are both educators. We understood the importance of those early years, how vital they are to building the foundation of personality and intelligence and security. To say I struggled balancing that demand and my writing is an understatement, yet one very important element crystallized: my motivation.

I was tempted to quit writing after This Side of Normal. My next work didn’t sell, the publishing industry was changing and I wasn’t sure if I had what it takes to succeed in this business. But both of my daughters, when the saw the cover of TSON, would say, “That’s daddy’s book. Daddy’s a writer.” How in the world could I ever say to them, “Well, I used to be.”

And so I forged ahead, not solely for me, but because of how I felt after that initial conversation with my wife, after the grind of writing while half-awake, the excitement of seeing my work in print, and for my daughters.

This kind of story is not unique. People work hellacious hours at jobs they despise for the sake of their children. Some work two or three jobs to provide. I have to believe that they feel as I do, that this work is not about me anymore. It is much bigger. It is about us.

I would not have that motivation without my wife and daughters. The roadblock my wife thought children might be has become the best kick in the pants. I love writing. I love my daughters. I cannot imagine a world without either. I get up early and write to the last minute before work, and I think about the craft all the time. And I parent. I am their daddy who writes. This is my life.

So thank you, Carrie, for putting it all into perspective.

And that leads me back to Grace, the birthday girl, to whom I also want to say, thank you. Without you, I would be a shadow of the man I am today. My wish for you is a life that provides insight into just how amazing you are. Enjoy this birthday and every one over the horizon.

Just go for it

Last week one of my students shared some good news: he’s been invited to send in an audition set to Tanglewood. He plays the Cello and is by all accounts amazing. I marveled at the invitation and congratulated him, as did the rest of the class. He blushed though and said, “I’m not sending it in. I’m not ready.”

It was as if his words detonated a bomb. The class exploded. Not in laughter. Not in derision. In support. They demanded that he send in the audition. That he is ready. That he is talented enough.

I was taken aback. Many of these students know of his skill and have witnessed him play, but I can readily attest after reading his memoir piece and journal entries (it’s a writing class) that none of them understand how much he has worked on his craft, nor how significant, exhilarating and daunting such an invite is.

However, I do.

Anyone who has been asked by an agent to send in a partial and then the entire manuscript knows exactly the feeling: Am I good enough?

I know little about the musical world, but I can assume there exists a fair level of criteria for what is “talent” mixed with a dose of subjectivity on its delivery. Much as there is in writing. From what I have witnessed, my student has both the talent and the presence. Once I calmed down the class, I appealed to him.

I told him that he had no choice. That we as the class believe in him and that regardless of the outcome he had to at go for it. I told him that even if he didn’t get invited, the potential for constructive criticism was too important to pass up. He replied, “They don’t give a response.”

How many times have agents, who are not supposed to respond beyond the form letter, provide critique? How many suggest a revision and then a resubmission? I couldn’t help but draw the parallel.

I told him that it didn’t matter if others didn’t get feedback, he might, and that there was absolutely nothing to lose in the proposition. If he wasn’t ready, then so be it. He loves music. He is music. He will always be a musician. When the time is right, he will do amazing things, because he has the talent, because he strives to do better, and because he is humble in his devotion to his muse.

There is an invaluable lesson in his plight. It’s emblematic of the struggle that emerges for all of us. I’ve received hundreds of rejections, but have persevered. What else was there to do? I write. It’s a part of me that is as natural as thinking or speech. In fact, it is the combination. I love to communicate my perspective. It may be the one and only way I am ever truly heard.

I believe the same is true for my student, and I have a feeling he will send in the audition. He may succeed this time, or he may not. It doesn’t matter, because at least he is going for it. We must push, even when it might not be our time, because at one point it will.