This is the last full day for me here at the Assoc. of Professional Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in Boston, and it figures that the 2-day relentless blizzard has finally moved off the coast. But…at least I have a bit of time to walk the city and snap photos of the amazing brownstones off Commonwealth Avenue. I imagine the likes of Frederick L. Olmstead and Arthur Gilman at the end of the 19th century having a spot of brandy and a cigar in their drawing rooms in these beautiful homes lining this majestically engineered avenue
I have been to this part of Boston before, but the humbling element of history—something that often is destroyed and rebuilt in modern-day America—gives this city a timeless quality. Walking around, I could be in Montreal or Toronto, for all I know; or London.
It’s been definitely an…interesting experience. First and foremost, I am amazed at all the writers here who are nothing more than pretentious hipsters. The bits and chunks of conversations I’ve caught these last few days are horrifying. If these people are MFA-program products, universities need to re-evaluate what they’re teaching, and what they’re letting loose out into the world. More horseshit slung about I haven’t seen since spending my boyhood summer days in my grandfather’s village in Blagesti, Romania. I get the feeling these kids know nothing about the amount of energy and concentration needed for sustaining a long-term project like writing a novel. How could they? Literally every 5 seconds they check their smartphones. I found myself in conversations with some of them in which I was constantly being interrupted by their texting or scrolling through timelines of useless information. I seriously doubt these people have the ability to drive or merely think in prolonged chunks of time, much less write a book or even a true short story (10K words +).
That being said, the flipside is: I met up with a handful of really good people. I took part in two off-site readings that I think were extremely successful, and sold a small number of books, literally gypsy-style: carrying them with me in my bag and exchanging them for Benjamins. Ok, not Benjamins, but Andrew Jacksons. Ok, not Andrew Jacksons, but a Hamilton and a Lincoln. You do the math on the retail price of “Gears.”
Via a face-to-face meeting, I have finally de-mystified the mystery of xtx33, but I have been sworn to secrecy so you won’t get anything out of me. Plus, I’m bad with names and faces, so basically I’ve forgotten what she looks like, so I’d be of no help to you, even if you waterboarded me. Ok, I haven’t de-mystified anything; I’m still working on that crop circle I stumbled upon in Akron, OH in 1981.
Will I see you in Seattle next year? No. I’ll be armchair quarterbacking the event from my sprawling mansion in Chapel Hill, North Carolina…one that I intend to purchase with the royalties from my book.