I know you're probably not local to Los Angeles, but I wish you could come out to hear two of my literary heroes, Sandra M. Gilbert and Ron Carlson read at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena this weekend.
Founded in 1894, Vroman's is Southern California's oldest and largest independent bookseller (two of Vroman's early employees are restacking books in the photo, above).
Here are a few words from Ron Carlson on bewilderment and humility and listening in the act of writing:
"Beginning a story without knowing all the terrain is not a comfortable feeling. It is uncomfortable enough in fact to keep most people away from the keyboard...But there are moments in the process of writing a story when you must tolerate that feeling: you stay alert to everthing that is happening and by listening and watching, you find out where you are going by going there.
"The single largest advantage a veteran writer has over the beginner is this tolerance for not knowing. It's not style, skill, or any other dexterity. An experienced writer has been in those woods before and is willing to be lost; she knows that being lost is necessary for the discoveries to come."
from Ron Carlson Writes a Story (Graywolf Press), page 15
Sandra Gilbert is one of my favorite living writers. She speaks of life as a woman, a daughter, a mother, a thinking person. "You write because you dream a different self into being when you write," Sandra M. Gilbert says in her essay, "Why Do We Write", On Burning Ground: 30 Years of Thinking about Poetry (University of Michigan Press). "You write because you meet a new you in writing, a you you didn't know you had."
Ron Carlson and Sandra Gilbert will be reading at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California on Sunday, April 15, 4p.m.