Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
And speaking of ‘90s nostalgia (thanks to pinklightsabre, Bill Pearse), I was reminded while writing the Elvis Costello post of the time I met two relatively famous writers — that same year, 1996, as it turns out — and came away thinking, Are they all neurotic basket cases?
This was at a writers’ workshop/retreat in wild Idaho, way out there by the Sawtooth Mountains outside of Sun Valley. The setting couldn’t have been better. But on Day 1, I got my first interaction with Famous Writer No. 1 and learned that fame doesn’t do much for a damaged personality. She was consistently half an hour or more late for sessions. She was distracted by something personal going on in the background. She seemed like she didn’t really want to be there. And though she liked the story I had submitted, her comments on it were in the “faint praise” category. She phoned it in.
Famous Writer No. 2 and wife had just had a baby, and they were on this strange kick never to put the baby down. She was to be carried by mom or dad the entire time — kid’s only about two weeks old — on the basis of some primitive ritual they’d read about. I’d like to see how that kid’s doing now at age 20. Famous Writer No. 2 wasn’t as blatantly neurotic as No. 1, but he had a bad habit of fawning over one or two of the workshoppers in his group, as in, “You all should be trying to do what he’s doing here.” I didn’t think that was very nice.
But I also met a soon-to-be-semi-famous writer — one of the “students” just like me. Her name is Heidi Julavits, and she’s written some really terrific, innovative novels since Idaho. She didn’t’ seem the least bit neurotic. At least not then …
Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is, Be careful what you wish for. Maybe we’re better off as small-scale artisans who never get discovered, and are happier for it.