One of my favorite events at last week’s Week of Writing was,”Journey and Coming of Age in the Fiction of Nathan Leslie,” featuring a reading and Q+A with the author of “The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice.”
As an aspiring writer, this was a rare chance for me to gather as much information and advice I could get from a well-established, and successful writer. But as Nathan reminded me, what is considered success in this field?
As the Q+A section approached, I moved from the back of the audience to front and center, making sure my flailing arm was in full view. I eagerly blurted out something to the effect of, “how did you start!…I mean…what did you do?…I mean…what do I do!?” He recommended seeking out a mentor, submitting to many literary magazines, and to never let a couple (or a plethora) of rejections stop me.
Intrigued with the idea of being a mentee, I raised my hand again. This time I simply asked, “how do you find one of those?” After a few chuckles from everyone including Nathan, he advised me, and the many other aspiring writers in the crowd, to focus on our creative writing professors and actively pursue a mentorship with a professor who was willing and able (and interested).
After the event was over, I gave Nathan a copy of PBQ’s print annual 6, and thanked him for generously and patiently answering my scrambled questions. He told me the names of many literary magazines that were a good place to start and again, emphasized the importance of persistence and drive.
I walked away from the event feeling a little overwhelmed, a little scared, and a whole bunch of inspiration. It was refreshing to talk to someone who is actively living the life of a successful (whatever that means) writer and who is so willing to share the knowledge he’s acquired over the years. The overall message I took away from the event? Keep going, keep keep going, and so I will.