Champagne and Book People

I’m back in sunny Seattle today, having spent the last few days in Los Angeles. My LAR cohort Tanya and I had the opportunity to present the journal’s achievements to be fabulous Red Hen board, and the next day we got to hang with the cool kids at Red Hen’s 16th anniversary champagne luncheon.

As a managing editor, I’m someone who spends a great deal of time interacting with creative writing in terms of logistics, deadlines, contracts, printing, shipping, sales, and marketing; bringing out a literary magazine can sometimes seem like running a widget factory. While I do get the immensely pleasurable job of reading and selecting work, there’s such a large amount of grunt labor to accomplish that it’s easy to forget the human and even artistic elements of the small press community.

But the Red Hen event came at precisely the right time this year. I had the pleasure of meeting the eloquent, thoughtful and gracious Christopher Rice, to hear Toi Derricotte, founder of Cave Canem, speak about the importance of writers in the schools, and even have a chat about The Wire and television soap operas with the legendary Ishmael Reed (who agreed, I’m happy to say, to be the subject of LAR Issue 10’s dedication and profile!).

Yes, it was great fun to dress up in a swanky outfit rather than my usual “editorial outfit” of yoga pants and a hoodie and to sip mimosas in the morning rather than put away my third cup of Trader Joe’s coffee. But the chance to feel a bit momentary glamorousness at the Luxe had nothing on how good it felt to be around others who care as much about writing and books as I do.

It’s easy to be discouraged, especially in the current economic situation, by the business of making books. But being surrounded by other “book people” celebrating the written word gave me such a good dose of positive energy and of motivation that I can’t wait to get working on LAR 10…

3 Replies to “Champagne and Book People”

  1. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, and the media’s take on the writing biz so depressing, that for many of us it’s a nice dose of inspiration to occasionally attend an event where a roomful of people has gathered just to talk about writing and writers. we don’t have that opportunity too often here in Upper Smugolia*, so I am both glad for you and a touch envious. And here’s a toast to the continued success of LAR — the journal just keeps getting better!

    *How bad is it here? My tidy, upper-middle-class neighborhood just voted to close our public library, rather than raise their property taxes an average of $38 a year. Which way to the exit?

  2. It’s funny how being in the company of like minded people can give this boost of inspiration. I went to an artists first show last week because I felt I needed to “get out there”. I used to attend art openings while living at home and since then my exposure to art went from minimal to non-existent (Osaka doesn’t have a prominent arts scene).

    Since that show and just talking to people, I felt great, I felt I could do things again even if funds are lacking and I have to spend them on things like visas.

  3. Joe, that’s terrible about your library. The bunker-down mentality so many people seem to be showing in the current economic situation may well be the death of culture. Next November, we’ll have to find a way to get you out to LA, too!

    Silvii, Remember that feeling! It’s easy to fall into the habit of staying in when events are going on because we’re tired, overworked, or overcommitted. I think we keep in mind how beneficial those times are for kickstarting ourselves.

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