This is yet another busy week of literary events at MC. Last night, the Potomac Review and Professor Greg Malveaux hosted a reading by our friend Susi Wyss. Susi’s book The Civilized World was released last month, and she’s already been hitting the local scene with reading promotions in Maryland and D.C. We were lucky that she had time yesterday evening to speak to our students. Our students are equally busy. Tonight, MC will host the annual Poetry Slam at the Rockville campus’s Black Box Theatre (TA building). Seventeen students will perform spoken word. The event is free, open to the public, and will begin at 7:30 p.m.
All this writerly activity makes writing seem like such a public experience. Indeed, as I have been working on the Potomac Review this semester, I have attended, participated, and planned many reading events. The AWP conference this year was in D.C. and we hosted two readings over those three days, both were very successful. I organised a Black History month reading at the Takoma Park campus in February. Earlier this month, writers gathered at the Conversations & Connections conference to hear Steve Almond read. Not to mention the two most recent events on campus. No doubt writing seems somewhat glamorous to the young writer who sees a writer holding an audience and sharing wisdom. Last night Susi reminded me and our students that writing is a very personal and solitary art form that only later allows for a public connection with others.
Of course, all writers know how much time it takes to write. Susi took one year off from work to write her book. That year turned into two years. She wrote the stories in eight months but spent the rest of the time revising. She needed that time to focus on writing. “Writing is hard,” she told our students. She’s right. She added that she’s not one of those writers for whom writing is like breathing. She doesn’t have to do it. I was impressed that she both had the time and used the time to write, because I usually feel like one of those writers that has to write (hence this daily blog) but to be honest, even though I long for free time to write, when I do get time, I think of other things to do: cleaning, doing laundry, visiting with friends, seeing a movie, reading the ever-growing pile of books I keep meaning to read. After this semester, I mean to focus more time on my own fiction, to be “holed up writing” so that I can later “connect with writers,” as Susi said. She reminds me that the public side of writing can inspire the private and vice versa. Wanting the time, having the time, and using the time to write and produce quality stuff takes an alignment of circumstances and a serious kind of discipline, and when both are in order, the results are worth celebrating.