Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Jon Carroll's Workshop

photo by Terry Lorant

Jon Carroll taught a writing workshop at Book Passage in Corte Madera last Saturday. Some things I remember:

- Jon wore a colored t-shirt under an unbuttoned corduroy shirt, and he didn't tuck anything in.

- The worst enemy a writer can have is perfectionism. Deal with it and conquer it. Perfectionism is the illusion of control. You aren't going to make it perfect, so write it and let it go. The Nigerian phrase for "wise woman" is "she who has broken many pots."

- You should be a little scared when you're writing.

- Somebody raised her hand and said that she had taken all these writing classes that focused on the importance of the epiphany in writing–where it should fall within the piece, how it should be approached. Jon thought that all the importance placed on epiphanies can be a bunch of baloney. That life by itself is rich and wonderful–it doesn't always have to "mean" something.

- It's OK to buy a big croissant with powdered sugar and only eat a couple of bites. Then you can turn it back in or throw it away. Hearing that was an epiphany for me. Like when Anne Lamott said that it was OK to use lots paper when you're writing. Print your story out and read it and throw it away, and print it out and read it and throw it away again. If you're that concerned about wasting paper, contribute to the Sierra Club.

- It was a nice, clean feeling to be in Corte Madera. Most of the people at this outdoor mall smelled good and had tailored clothes on. During lunch I was walking though the courtyard, and noticed this bum in a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt going the other way. I didn't make eye-contact. When I got back to class, there he was! It was Jon Carroll. Apparently he had brought along a short-sleeved shirt to change into in case it got too hot.

-It can be a good sign for what you're writing if you find yourself crying. It can be a good sign if you find yourself laughing out loud.

- The bookstore itself was lots of fun. Aside from books, they also sold these velvet zippered purses in orange, green and purple. Also, these triangular black bags that you can sling over your shoulder. When you registered for the class, you received a 10% off coupon that you could use in the store. But you had to buy books with it–you couldn't use it on the orange velvet purse. So I bought the book below in order to save as much money as I could in one day.