Elders of Fiction: A Love Letter from #BookFest

Dear Elders of Fiction,

I hope you don’t mind me calling you that. It’s just that I’m still a baby, really, and you have been writing for a long time. I just wanted to say how much I like listening to you. Every year, I go to the LA Times Festival of Books and I listen. I listen to you talk about feminism and board games and switching mediums and raising children. I listen to two-person interviews and four person panels. I listen because there is so much I don’t know yet, so much I want to have for myself.

Yesterday, I listened to Margaret Atwood and Orson Scott Card and a panel of science writers that included K.C. Cole (okay, so that should read “Elders of Fiction and Nonfiction,” but let’s not get too prosaic here). The thing I took away from this year is the idea that we make up our lives as we go along. I listened to all of you and I heard you writing lives of joy. You are, if you don’t mind me saying so, kind of geeky people. I am too. You talk about ideas with such affection and excitement and baffled joy. Look, there are so many neat things in the world, isn’t that swell? I think so too.

I’ve been having a hard time lately. I needed someone to tell me that I can write a better life for myself. I needed someone to tell me that the real world is really a fiction we make up. I needed someone to tell me to break the rules and do what I want. Maybe none of you really said any of those things. Maybe the themes you thought you were talking about are not the themes I heard. I needed to hear them, though, and there you were. Full of joy. Undeterred. Cranky and geeky and in love with your work and your world.

I am making a place for myself in the world of fiction. It starts at your feet, listening to stories. I love to listen to you. I love what I hear. Thank you.

ETA (8/14/13): For f**k’s sake. This is what I get for living under a rock. If it seems odd that one of those people is on my list of folks I liked, well, that’s because I’ve only read nonfiction writing advice from that person, live under a rock, and always hear about everything six months to a year late. (Or longer…)

This happens with embarrassing frequency to me. In the future, I would like people who pass a certain batshit threshold to wear a friggin’ sign or something, okay? Let’s call that threshold “paranoid, vicious, and incoherent.”

Published by Joyce Sully

Joyce Sully believes in magic and dragons and ghosts, but is not convinced her next-door neighbors are real. So she writes stories. Really, what else could she do?

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