Andromeda: Lurkers, we love you, and…

From the Portland airport, I’m thinking back on three incredible days at AWP, the most stimulating writing conference I’ve ever attended, and also thinking about how many interesting Alaskans were there. Of the many I enjoyed meeting, or re-meeting, I’m thinking most about a gaggle of University of Alaska Anchorage MFA students who all said the same thing. They read 49writers. They appreciate it. They use it. Someday, they might like to contribute to the blog. But in the meanwhile, they don’t comment.

I’m not going to “out” anyone here, though I will attempt some flattery. We’ve got a good pool of talent building in the UAA MFA program, people writing about interesting things from a range of interesting backgrounds (and even winning some top prizes for their work). It’s energy we need in our young state, which is seeing quick development in the literary arts this decade.

In the meanwhile, we have some great opportunities on the horizon. But we need to meet each other. We need to hear from each other.

If you’re an MFA student so busy with your thesis, among other things, that you can scarcely breathe, much less imagine your future five years from now, I urge you to take at least one breath in the next month and introduce yourself. Tell us what you write. Tell us what you want the Alaska literary scene to become. Weigh in on the Alaska writing center idea — or about anything else. You may or may not actually live in the state, but through your program, you’re an Alaska writer, too.

P.S. This applies to all of our other favorite categories of literary lurkers as well…

P.P.S. If you’re too shy to comment, at least send me (at lax AT your name, city, and email so we can add you to our email list for future news updates about writing center and 49writers developments.

9 thoughts on “Andromeda: Lurkers, we love you, and…”

  1. I'm a literary lurker living in Galway, Ireland. I read 49 Writers faithfully, Alaskan writers appear on my laptop on my kitchen table. I drink my morning coffee with you, each blog entry I read is a gift from home. At readings in Ireland I am always introduced as an Alaskan writer, even though I have lived in Ireland for thirteen years, I will always be a 'blow-in'. I am heartened to read that Alaska will still claim me.

    My debut collection of poetry, Zephyr, will be published in May by Salmon Poetry. I was born in Anchorage and raised on a homestead in Soldotna. I hope that my collection carries a tiny bit of historical significance for Alaska; the poems are about my childhood and also about my experience of being an Alaskan abroad raising my daughter Lily in Galway. Lily has Down syndrome. I know that exotic locations and interesting situations do not necessarily make good poems, but I hope mine have been crafted in a way that will reflect a winter bonfire on a Kasilof beach.

    Many years ago I was in a writer's group in Anchorage lead by Mei Mei Evans who had rented a closet in Sally Mead's office so she could have a place to write. I hope the vision of a writer's center for Alaska includes nooks with a window that writer's could rent for a pittance. Getting off the kitchen table would be a gift to many of us. And it would be great to have a writer's center for me to call right now; I'll be in Alaska for most of the summer and would love to give some readings, a one-stop writer's center to facilitate readings, workshops, award deadlines etc would be terrific.

    Mary Mullen

  2. I want to add a happy, me too. I feel my horizons expanding by the moment, my vision of who we might be taking on something like the warm literary circles I have read about, where writers of other decades(and geographies)knew each other, promoted each other — out of solid belief in what each was attempting. But first we have to meet. I chime in here, also, to announce that we have completed a recording of HOLY LAND, thanks to Derek Tarr. This morning I added it to the book's website. This has been years in coming. It is a dramatic monologue spoken (at last!) by a fine actor, Michael Bricker, from the Y-K Delta region. Find it by clicking on the HOLY LAND book cover (scroll down) on the 49Writers page. I will add the url with my post, too.

  3. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    So great to meet you virtually, Mary! I love finding out we have an Alaskan abroad in Ireland, and I look forward to your debut collection. It does my heart good to hear from our interesting readers/fellow writers, who form part of a vibrant, extended community.

    P.S. I'd asked for your email the first time I posted this comment but Deb assures me we already have it.

  4. Great news, Sandy – I'll add it also to this week's round-up, and good to hear from you, Mary. I laugh over the reticence of our readers, many of them writers, to leave comments, but I understand, too, that we of all people recognize the permanence and impact of the word, so perhaps we're more careful about what we say, where, and when. But you can always opt for "Anonymous" if you have a quick comment to make and don't want to labor over your words.

  5. OK I'm also a lurker…trying to "become" a writer, whatever that means.

    I'm a wife, mother of two grown children and a musher whose weeks revolve around the 37 sleddogs in our Denali backyard. When I'm not on the sled I'm working on revising a memoir — inspired at first by a class I took from Andromeda and Lee Goodman, and then others from Bill Sherwonit. After attending various writers' workshops, where I gained inspiration and subsequently my share of rejection letters, I'm still determined. I'm happy to be entering the MFA program at PLU this summer.

    What I really want to say is thank you to Andromeda and Deb and all the others on this blog. I won't really call myself a "writer" until my words see the eyes of the public, but in the meantime I would love to be involved with your efforts to launch a writing center, or a series of writing projects in our state. The Wrangell workshop last summer was a treasure.

    So a hearty thanks for the blog, the wonderful ideas, as well as the nudge to admit I'm a lurker.

    Cheers, Debbie

  6. Great to hear from you, too, Debbie, and many thanks for your kind words and support.

  7. Hello! Sorry to be so late on the bandwagon. I tend to save up 49writers until I have a good chunk of time each week, and somehow no matter how long the days grow, they always seem full.
    I'm a Southeast Alaskan, born and bred and currently living in Juneau. I'm a brand spanking new fiction writer. Not that I haven't spent my life working things out through words, but only in the last year have I finally come to terms with the fact that, no matter what my grandparents said, I ought to be a Writer. I'm about to finish the first year of UAA's MFA program. I'm a fiction student, although before last summer I had never written a piece of fiction in my life. I love it. I'm not sure why I felt like I needed an excuse or permission to pursue fiction, but now that I'm in it there's no turning back. It's where I belong.
    I love the way that fiction allows me to fully take on another persona, to follow a character's emotions and actions to their end without fear of repercussion. I am not a believer in write what you know. I am a believer in use what you know to inform your writing, to create truth. But don't let your own limited experience keep you from anything. Sympathize, empathize, and you can reach anyone and anywhere.
    I've spent the year cutting my teeth on short fiction. Last summer we had several conversations in our workshops about how you know whether you're a short story writer or a novelist. The answer was 'you just know'. Despite how much I enjoy short stories, how much I like being able to jump between new characters, situations, and landscapes, I know that I am a novelist. I think I must be. For one thing, all I ever want to read are novels. I honestly have never read a short story that wasn't assigned. Granted this year I assigned myself short stories, but still. So I'm working on a novel. Which is big and scary. But I've decided that I'm probably doing something right if I'm scaring myself.

    Okay. That's probably enough babbling.
    To sum up: I'm a writer from Alaska. I love that this is a blog for writers from, or interested in, Alaska. I love the idea of an Alaska-wide writing center. I'm all in.

  8. Erin, so glad to hear you're all in – on novels, on 49 Writers, on this amazing and crazy journey.

  9. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Erin, I don't think I have your email. If you see this, can you write me at lax at alaska dot net?

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