It was a treat to hear Garth Stein for the first time Saturday morning. Garth started off the session by discussing the three easiest things for writers.
The easiest thing to do in the world is not write. The “second easiest thing is to talk about what you haven’t written with friends , family and strangers.” The third easiest thing is to “write about what you’ve never written” like plot points, vignettes, and only writing about what you think about writing but haven’t finished.
Garth: “Writing is a process of discovery.”
You must take the writer/reader relationship very seriously. It’s a matter of trust. There are mistakes in fiction but no accidents. Be aware when you’ve written a character sloppily (unrealistic). Dramatic truth: if you put a gun on the wall early in the story, you need to remove it by the time the story is over or we betray the trust.
Realize the story takes on a life of its own and that as storytellers we are just stewards.
On first drafts: he writes them for himself; all subsequent drafts are for the characters and story. Garth noted an interesting statistic from a study in Scientific American Mind: for the first time in history, less than 50% of Americans read for fun. He noted that reading is a social act. We must give something in order to receive something.
Garth reiterated time and again the importance of the writers’ role in society. We can be agents of change, and have an “obligation of being idealists.” Readers desire to be changed, that’s why they read. In his closing statement, Garth said “a book has no purpose until it’s read.”
NEXT UP: Children’s Market Fireside Chat part 1