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Life, Love, and Literature:      

Continuing the Conversation

February 2016


In This Issue

300 Books in One 
Dear Friends of Creative Writing,

This month of extra love and demonstrations thereof seems an appropriate time to shower readers with gratitude and appreciation for their support. Also, our 5th anniversary of newslettering seems a good time to take stock--and maybe some new directions.
To date, intuition has played a big role in the evolution of the We Wanted to Be Writers website. It has gone from maintaining a primary focus on its titular book and the writers therein to becoming a much broader repository and showcase for new literary works, including many debuts and indie publishers. We're proud to be tireless supporters of fellow writers and will continue to post book recommendations from authors, as well as excerpts from their work. And in this new year of possibility, we hope also to buoy the under-sung heroes of lit and reading with posts on, to name just a few,
* libraries
* indie bookstores
* editors: those knit-picking scourges of word-ies on both sides of the page.  
To that end, we invite YOU, dear readers, to become active participants in your own reading experience. Please tell us

* why libraries are important to you and what sets the great ones apart
* what features your favorite indie bookstores have that make them so appealing
* What aren't we doing/writing about that you wish we were?
* What are we doing/writing about that you wish we weren't?
Today is launch day for our dear friend and former classmate Ross Howell, Jr.'s debut novel Forsaken (check the website 2/2 for an excerpt). Here are some of the great reads he's using to research his next volume of historical fiction that will have the same indefatigable, and slightly older, narrator.
Happy reading, dear Valentines!


Read to Your Heart's Content! 
The alchemy of books, the magic that transforms writers' creations into readers' emotions, seems the very essence of love in all its unpredictable, chaotic, transportive interactions. We celebrate the great collaboration of pleasure reading and wish you a boundless supply of books.


Ever wonder what a book launch calendar looks like? Ross Howell, Jr. , whose debut historical novel Forsaken  is out today from NewSouth Books, shared his Feb events:
Live NPR interview with Frank Stasio of "The State of Things," WUNC radio, Chapel Hill, NC (2/5); speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta, GA (2/9); Black History Month event, Elon University (2/16); and Booklovers event, Greensboro Public Library (2/24). Readings at Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC (2/4); Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC (2/5); The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC (2/11); City Lights Books, Silva, NC (2/13); Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, NC (2/14); The Regulator Bookshop; Durham, NC (2/18); Quail Ridge Bookstore, Raleigh, NC (2/21); Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA (2/23); and Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC (2/25).
Just back from Ocean Springs, MS, where she gave a reading from recent stories to older poems, Geri Lipschultz writes that her audience contained many relatives of Walter Anderson, "esteemed painter and genius," whose work has provided the town with a museum of the same name, along with a pottery store and a kind of fame known to such lights as William Faulkner and Eudora Welty and Whoopi Goldberg. Geri writes, "I became enamored of his paintings and fascinated by his legacy and was thrilled to read in the cottage where he worked, where a room of his remained unseen by anyone until after his death. That room is now in the museum, preserved intact, gorgeous four walls and ceiling painted to honor the way the light moved from window to window during the day. I was utterly taken by the artist and his legacy."
Our man Down Under Bill Manhire will be at the Adelaide Writers' Week 2/27 - 3/3. He has also been commissioned, with other poets, to write about the Battle of the Somme, which has its centenary this year. This world-premier and major national commission by Writers' Centre Norwich and the Imperial War Museum, kicks off the City of Literature programme at Norfolk & Norwich Festival this spring. For those planning travel itineraries, here's incentive to head south from the Fierce Light website:

"Perhaps no art form captured the complexity and terror of the First World War more acutely than poetry. As we approach 100 years since the Battle of the Somme, Fierce Light brings together outstanding international poets and visual artists to explore the war and its legacy in the 21st century. Join Simon Armitage, Daljit Nagra and others for a live audio-visual experience which premiers their new poetry alongside work by Bill Manhire, Jackie Kay and Paul Muldoon and a series of specially commissioned short films." 

Watch this space for updates.
We Wanted to Be WritersAbout the Book
We Wanted to be Writers is a series of conversations among nearly 30 writers-students and their teachers-who were at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the mid-70s. In the book, we discuss what we learned in the Workshop-and what we didn't learn-and what we learned in the decades since about life, art, the creative process, teaching, the lit biz, and more.
Our goal is to provide advice, counsel and analysis, maybe some inspiration, and a cautionary tale or two. Along the way, we also hope to entertain with some good yarns and a little gossip....

Among the talents that emerged in those years-writing, passionately jousting, criticizing, drinking, and debating in the classrooms and barrooms of Iowa City-were the young versions of writers who became John Irving, Jane Smiley, T.C. Boyle, Allan Gurganus, Sandra Cisneros, Joe HaldemanJayne Anne Phillips, Marvin Bell, Michelle Huneven, and many others.

The book is available from Red RoomAmazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. Booksellers please order directly from the distributor, W.W. Norton. For special sales please contact Kathryn Mennone.

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Check Out Our Website
At our website ( wewantedtobewriters.com), you can find out more about our contributors, read excerpts from the book, watch the book trailer, and link to a bookseller to order a copy. We also provide links to resources for writers and teachers of writing, including links to our contributors' websites.

Special features include:
  • For Teachers:  Most of us teach writing, or have taught it. Many of us have set up creative writing programs, or have headed them, or are heading them now. In the book, we discuss teaching, best practices, and of course that question that no one seems to tire of asking: Can writing be taught? On the site, we'll expand on the conversation in the book with a variety of materials on the topic.
  • Ask the Writers:  If you have any questions about writing, the creative process, teaching writing, the lit biz, or anything else having to do with writing, please send them in and we'll weigh in.
  • Resources:  For young writers just getting started, interrupted writers returning after other pursuits, and anyone else who's ever felt the irresistible lure/tyranny of the blank page.

We hope you find this site is a useful resource. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

small book cover
We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop · by Eric Olsen and Glenn Schaeffer · A Herman Graf Book · $16.95 paperback original (Can. $21.50) North America (X) · CQ 24 · ISBN 978-1-60239-735-4 · 5 ¼" x 8 ¼" · 320 pages · 24 b/w photographs · Reference · AUGUST
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