This month, Writer-in-Residence Emma Carlson Berne speaks with Brandon Miller. Brandon is an author of books on history for young people. Her books cover subjects like Women of Colonial America, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Miller’s stories have been honored by the International Reading Association, National Council for Social Studies, and more. During the interview, Millers gives insight on the importance (and fun) of research for historical nonfiction writing, and writing from different historical perspectives. She shares what it is like working with an editor to get a book published and what her daily life as a writer is like. Anyone looking for insight in to writing as a professional career, give this interview a listen!
I met with a high school student recently, who was thinking he might like to be a writer. You know, for a job, when he was done with college. He wanted some advice on what this kind of life was like. I told him that he has a decision to make – not now, but once he’s sure he wants to be writer: he can choose to be an artist or he can choose to be a craftsman.
Maybe I’m making this sound too black-and-white. Of course you can be both things. But the divide in writing is still there. Artists are what many people think of when they think of writers. Producing a great work of fiction, head incandescent with words, eating bread and maggoty cheese, washing out your one shirt at night in a garret, to paraphrase Margaret Atwood. You exist in the realm of other artists: painters, dancers, playwrights. You write a novel and the novel is the art and whether or not someone chooses to publish it is almost beside the point.
Craftsmen are the less sexy writers. Craftsmen are writers who write for money, for an employer or for a client. In-house writers, business writers, technical writers, freelance writers. Journalists are in this category, and copywriters. Becoming a craftsman means you get to make money writing instead of waiting tables. You employ your writing skills to serve your own ends. You don’t suddenly decide you want to write a poem instead of a press release. You write the press release the way your boss or your client asked you to.
I wonder if the high school student felt deflated when I presented these two choices to him. He didn’t look deflated. He looked buoyed up and excited by the thought of going to college. All these words I was saying to him were just rolling around in his head. They were going to be buried by thoughts of living on your own in a dorm and riding a bike across campus and playing a guitar at open-mike night in the Union. But maybe, when he’d lived through that, and it was time to make some money out in the world, he’d find those words again. And maybe they’d be helpful.
I’ll be leading our third Writer-in-Residence Workshop on September 29, at 1:00, at the Main Library, in our same beautiful meeting room with the soaring arched windows looking out over downtown. Here’s the blurb, in case you missed it:
The Big, Hairy World of Book Publication: Revisions, Agents, Queries, Editors
You’ve written a book manuscript! You’re done! Right? If only. This workshop will plunge into the often-scary, sometimes-hairy world of book publishing. How do you write a query letter? What is a literary agent and what do they do? We’ll discuss all aspects of the book publishing process from revision to editing to publication and publicity. Discussion will include both fiction and non-fiction. Bring your questions! Will include Q & A session for all stages of the writing journey.
During our previous workshops, I’d do a lot of talking and we’ve have just short periods for questions. My plan for this workshop is to have it be almost half Q & A – in my experience, people have a lot of questions about publishing and while I may not have a lot of answers, I will have some answers. That’s why it’s important you be there to ask those questions. Don’t leave me staring at the empty seats, clutching my notes. Y’all come!
Please note: this workshop is now full.
In this very special episode of Inside the Writer’s Head, the Library’s Writer-in-Residence speaks with Cincinnati’s poet laureate Mauel Iris. Iris promotes poetry appreciation in our community, and encourages the reading and writing of poetry for all ages. The award-winning poet talks about his origins as a poet, and how music has influenced his lyrical poetry. He tells the story of how his grandfather introduced him to the dictionary, kindling lifetime love affair with words. “Every poem is a love poem, we write because we love something,” Iris says. Iris reads an original poem from his latest book, “Translating Silence,” in both Spanish and English. They also discuss the publishing process, and how different writing poetry is from publishing it. This episode with a local leader and artist is full of insight on writing and the power of words – don’t miss out!
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