Monday, September 26, 2011

Link Corral: Oops & Finding Literary DC

I can’t believe I made a mistake…rather, I can’t believe I made this mistake:  In my post last week about the stages of a writer, I totally forgot the last one, so please imagine that you also read this last week:

--Art:  the perfect marriage of creative ambition and skill; the moment of supreme and beautiful confidence in which the words on the page match the vision in the brain; the magic.  Think: virtually unachievable, but for some writers, the only thing worth striving for.

All I can say in my defense is that this mental lapse shows me that clearly I’m waaaay too mired in the worries of Stage 3: Career.


D.C. is a soulless company town with the only company being Government.  Not so!  There’s a vibrant and unique literary community here if you know where to look , and the first place you should look is this excellent “Guide to Literary DC” that novelist Carolyn Parkhurst wrote for the Poets & Writers website:

“I never expected to end up in Washington, D.C. My feelings about politics and government are a lot like my feelings about photosynthesis or the circulatory system: I acknowledge their importance without wanting to spend any real time dwelling on them. When I moved here as a recent college graduate in 1992, it was because my boyfriend was attending grad school in College Park, and because I figured that as a writer (a title that was more hopeful than descriptive at that point), I could live anywhere. But the city worked its charm on me in the usual ways—an unexpected glimpse of the Washington Monument in the middle of a humdrum day, a rain of petals in my hair after a springtime walk—and somehow, all these years later, it’s the only place that feels like home.

“For me, the city is full of the kind of literary landmarks that no one else really cares about, the personal ones, my own life becoming a transparency laid over the larger map: the group house on R Street, through whose mail slot slipped hundreds of manila SASEs holding rejection letters from publications big and small. The food court in the Old Post Office Pavilion, where I ate lunch nearly every day the summer I interned at the National Endowment for the Arts. The strange little wedge-shaped Starbucks that seems to inhabit a traffic island in nearby Rosslyn, Virginia, where I wrote the last pages of all three of my novels. The bench at the National Zoo where I went to write a few times during a summer when I was on the run from the temptations of Wi-Fi. The house in Glover Park where I learned, on an ordinary day at home with my five-month-old son, that I’d sold my first novel. The Thai restaurant we ordered a celebratory dinner from that night. The nearby Whole Foods that was offering a special on irises, prompting my husband—the same guy I moved here to be with—to bring home eleven separate bouquets of them.

“But if I can manage to drag myself out of my own story for a moment, I can identify some of the other important places as well, the ones that have relevance to a larger group of writers and readers. It’s a beautiful, vibrant, creative city, whether or not you’re interested in learning more about the circulatory system.”


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.