This evening (or last night, by the time anyone reads this) I attended a joint lecture given at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Their Ivy Hall Writer’s Series invites current published authors to come and speak to artists and writers attending the college. The lectures are free and open to the public.
Tonight, Ivy Hall was graced by Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help and Susan Rebecca White, author of a Soft Place to Land and Bound South. I truly enjoyed listening to both authors speak, share their stories, read an excerpt of their novels and impart advice.
Susan Rebecca White spoke first, on a topic that I could really relate to. She used to think the writing world was separate from the living world… that writing was pure, it was to close yourself off from life and the internet and the phone and everything and be alone in your thoughts. She came to realize, though, that life filters its way into writing, that writing is infused with daily life. It’s sitting on a bus or at a Cafe and inventing stories about who’s sitting across the table from you; it’s watching how people act and interact with or towards each other and noting how they seem tense or at ease, comfortable or stressed out and inserting those emotions and behaviors into your writing. She said that she came to discover that we write what we live, and writing things that mean something to us helps us to understand those things more deeply.
I had never heard of Ms White, but I’ve added her books — written about young, southern women– to my Goodreads “To Read” pile. I’ll be picking them up as soon as I can. Cannot wait to dig into them.
Kathryn Stockett, who had just the loveliest southern drawl, was the second speaker. Her main point– Create art that breaks the rules. When asked what inspired her, she said that thinking about everything she learned as a child and throughtout her life as an absolute truth was absolutely absurd. She said that she wrote to break the rules, to talk about what no one else is talking about, to color outside the lines. Her Best selling book, The Help, is such a testament to that, to women who are living nearly unaware of the world changing around them and yet cannot help but step outside the usual lines of normalcy and effect a change for themselves and their small town.
After each author gave their speech, there was a short question and answer session. I think the most compelling question and answer was about the writing process – if writing becomes easier after you’ve been published. Both emphatically shook their heads NO. “After you get your contract and everything and all you’re SUPPOSED to do is write, it’s hard, “ said Susan. “I think the struggle is motivating and inspiring.”
Kathryn agreed. “I think the idea of having to prove yourself is the most motivating thing, ever. And, you know, my next book was due in January, so maybe I’ll get some kind of inspiration from being beyond deadline and breaking the rules a little!”
I very much enjoyed the experience. I opted not to purchase all three books and get them signed, though. Mostly because I am cheap and would rather buy used copies. HA!