Visiting UPG

I went back to Pitt-greensburg for the annual writer’s festival for a couple nights, which was awesome.

Just being around writers–great ones–was fantastic. I don’t get to do that anymore. Paul writes, but his focus right now is understandably school, and he’s in material science. Plus he writes fiction that borders on magical realism/sci fi/fantasy and I write memoir–when I’m not writing articles, reviews, or blogs. As a result, our writing discussions are rarely genre-specific. He doesn’t like memoir, either. However, he still gets it. He knows what I’m talking about when I say I wrote all night because I had an idea I had to see through. He knows the compelling feeling. He knows how the writer part of my brain works. Which is my entire brain.

He’s also my main support system. Other than Meri, who would frequently buy papers when I had an article in, and Terra, who would look online, Paul is the only one who shows an interest in reading my writing. That said, I don’t expect the Craigs to read about some event I had to cover that none of them have any interest in, but interest in creative nonfiction would be nice. Same goes for reviews: no one wants to read about artists they’ve never heard of, but checking out reviews I’ve done of ones they like would boost my self-esteem. Few of them read the Fayette County blog, which is getting significant attention elsewhere. In fact, they’re ironically more interested in personal blogs but seemingly to spy. Paul is the only one who asks what I’m working on. Paul and Terra are also the only ones who took any interest in when I read. Paul couldn’t come for obvious reasons and the Craigs were all in school, too, but seriously, zero interest. None. Not even a single, “Oh, I wish I could come!”

So I feel like they don’t care about what I do or take it seriously. Whenever my writing is referred to in conversation, it’s a joke about blogging or the fact that I review music. If something needs written down, I should do it because I’m the writer. And that’s why being in a room full of writers who were reading their work and sometimes talking a bit about the process meant so much to me. I forgot how comfortable and happy I’ve always felt at readings–like I belong and I chose the major I was meant to.

Now, about those awesome writers.

I went to faculty and alumni night, which always draws a big crowds and is amazing because that school has spawned some crazy talented people. Honestly, I can’t remember everyone who read. I was also late because of work and missed a lot, but I loved everyone I did get to hear. You need to be reading Adam Matcho and Lori Jakiela, who was my awesome professor. I actually finished reading her memoir, Miss New York Has Everything, the other night. I cried a little. There’s your incentive.

I went again for Jan Beatty and Peter Trachtenberg. Beatty I’ve heard and loved before. Classmates once passed around Red Sugar, kind of shocked at how blunt it was, but I loved it. Somewhere in life, I started to love women who were badasses that said whatever they wanted and would be honest about things people still don’t think women should talk about. One of these days I’m going to read Paul some Red Sugar and I can promise that he’ll strongly dislike it but will shake his head and say something like, “But I know why you love it.”

Trachtenberg, however, I’m new to. I bought one of his books on a whim. The verdict on that might be out for a while since I already have so many unread books and I have little time to read anymore. Let me put it this way: one of the best dates Paul and I ever had was used-book shopping. I spent something like $65 on both of us. Paul got a few paperbacks that were priced at half the publisher’s price. I got a few of those plus some $5 hardcovers. We carried them up to the counter in stacks and the cashier’s jaw dropped.

It was nice to go back and hang out. Jakiela’s told me that I must go back and read as well as send her something for the school’s anthology. Which means I’ve got a date with my flash drives soon.


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