favorite (contemporary) lit luminary

Since the name of this blog does imply it’s about human luminaries, I thought I’d start off with one that inspires me the most.

When people ask me who my favorite writer is, I’m often very stumped. Not only do I hate “favorite” questions, but there’s so many to choose from! And then there’s the matter of what works you have read by said writer, and how many are needed to feel justified in favoriting them. I actually don’t read as much or am not as well-read as people think. I wish I was, and yes, I was an English major, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee I’ll know even a lot there is to know about writing, and I wish I knew more writers. Factors such as the school, the professors, preferences, and even the year change things drastically. I haven’t even most of the classics other English majors have (although I have read, finished, and written an extensive literary theory paper on Bleak House by Dickens, of which I am quite proud). So I wanted to focus on my favorite contemporary literary luminary, since lately I’m reading lots of new ARCs and recent lit.

So when I think of my “favorite” writer who is also still alive, I think of someone who, though I may not have read everything by this person,  challenges me almost daily to be a better person. I think of this person’s words almost every day—that is how much they resonate with me.

anne lamottThis writer is Anne Lamott.

My favorite words of hers are always changing. I loved her book Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, but I actually disliked the only novel of hers that I’ve read (Blue Shoe). However, for the writers out there, her writing “advice” book Bird by Bird, which I DID read in college, is UH-MAZING.

But the writing that has resonated the most with me are her occasional Facebook posts. They are small gems of essays that literally look and sometimes read like she wanted to write a Facebook status but then had so much wisdom she just let herself go. Sometimes they’re rambly, sometimes very well thought out, and always insightful.bird

My faith is something so small and quiet these days, and it’s not something I like to talk about very much. However, Lamott reminds me that my roots remain true, that there is hope, and that it doesn’t have to be conservative Republican 😉 (Trying to avoid politics AND faith topics on this blog, just so I can encourage unity, but this is what had to be said. I’ll leave it at that.)

She also is a firm feminist, believes in equality and human rights, and isn’t afraid to speak up or go against the status quo. She talks about the tough stuff. She talks about real life. She has dreadlocks, she gets a little sweary, and her angst is real and raw and admitting to fault but not afraid to say it like it is. And yet she remains a positive voice impacting many—regardless of faith, sexual identity, political opinions, or other differentiating factors. AND OF COURSE she loves books.

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

—from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (emphasis mine)

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

Anne Lamott, thank you for your words on life and hope and mental illness and grief and trying to enjoy and life fully each day. You are a one of my favorite voices, and I want to go on reading your Facebook posts forever. If I could have coffee with any writer on earth (which is SUCH A HARD QUESTION) it would be you.

Sincerely,

An admiring writer.

What about you? Who is your favorite contemporary literary luminary? Or, if you could have coffee with one writer on earth, who would it be?

Leave a comment! Chat with me on social media! 

lit luminaries: a place for community

Welcome to Lit Luminaries, a lit blog about literary events in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, books, and lit-related randomness.

You may know about me from my previous blog for 20-somethings navigating life called The Process of Becoming. You may know me from real life via work, publishing events we’ve attended together, or other such circumstances. You may only know me through social media and our Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter profiles. It’s possible I don’t even know you or you have no idea who I am yet. 

And that’s okay. 

The point of this blog is to foster community. Community centered around books. But frankly, a lot of people are already running such sites (and are really famous for doing it, too. I don’t think I need to name names!). But when I looked around at all the awesome blogs and websites I was following, I didn’t find many based in and focused solely on the Twin Cities area. Shout out to MN Publishing Tweet Up and Rain Taxi for posting a literary events calendar and starting the conversation about local books and publishing as a center point for all! However, not many others were bringing it all down to one place. 

I want to be that place. An extra, additional place. I want to be a place for young, dreaming wanna-be publishers—whether undergrad, getting an MFA, or a floater like me—to find a community of like-minded people to discuss books and life with. I want to be a place where local booksellers can come to see who’s going to be in town, what’s selling, and what people are talking about. Or, simply, a place where book enthusiasts can come to get a taste of what’s happening here in Minneapolis/St. Paul and why we should be so proud of our lit scene. Because I am.

AWP-sign

Here’s a picture of last year, so we can remember how cool that was.

I don’t know about you, but occasionally I get jealous of other U.S. cities and their fantastic conferences and authors and events. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who was more than a little sad they couldn’t attend AWP 2016 in LA this April. Or who wishes they could afford a plane ticket to Book Riot 2016 or—let’s face it—ALL the book buzz going on in New York day to day. 

Thus, I’m going to celebrate our proud Twin Cities for how awesome and comparable they are. I don’t think they get enough credit, from the inside, for how with it and buzzing and alive they are. 

I’m also all about inspiration (see: my previous blog for the lost post-undergrad). Why did I name this blog Lit Luminaries? Besides the fact that it’s an alliteration and “luminaries” is a pretty word? 

luminary

noun  lu·mi·nary  \ˈlü-mə-ˌner-ē\

    1. a celestial body, as the sun or moon.
    2. a body, object, etc., that gives light.
    3. a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others (from here)
    4.  My definition: An event, organization, literary figure, person, or circumstance that inspires others.

 

Thus, this purpose of this book is as follows: to find highlights and spotlight interesting, funny, powerful, or important things in events and circumstances pertaining to literature and books, words, writers, and the literary community of the Twin Cities and to share them with others to contribute to this community.

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Please join the discussion!