Do Your Thinking On The Page


I have been trying to get to places on time lately and last Saturday  night I was rewarded. Husband Bill and I arrived at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Atlanta Writer’s Club. I ran into my friend Georgia Lee who had been shepherding the guest author Augusten Burroughs around all week for her SCAD’s Ivy Hall Writer’s program.

After Georgia asked if we wanted to meet Augusten,  we found ourselves alone with him.  The conversation was relaxed and low-key. We chatted about having worked as counselors in Amherst, MA, the backdrop for Running With Scissors his brilliant, sometimes rough memoir. Husband Bill had run a room for troubled kids in the regional high school.  Augusten told him they surely would have met had he not dropped out of school.

At one point I asked Augusten what he thought about writers as introverts. He said that he loved to be alone but also enjoyed times like this, a chance to engage with and meet new people. He stressed the need for community.

In his talk to our group, he described his writing process as a very solitary one. “I am on the bed with my two dogs, 8 hours a day, every day” he said. You WRITE.  It is about discipline and “Inspiration is a luxury.”

I was reminded of by what my dad, writer Alvin Boretz always said. “You don’t TALK about writing. You WRITE.”

We took our seats and listened to him patiently respond to questions from the audience, most of which I am sure he has been asked hundreds of times before. Here are a few of his responses and quotes that I was able to capture:

* When writing memoirs don’t worry about people’s feelings.

* He also doesn’t fret about his critics and doesn’t read reviews.

* “Writers are collectors, shoplifters and eavesdroppers.”

*”There is no exploration in what you know.”  When he is stuck he does something totally different  to wake up another side of himself. “Take a pottery class” or “study rocks”, he said.

“Do your thinking on the page”

Three were many more gems that rolled off his tongue and I plan on diving into those books of his I haven’t read yet. Read Magical Thinking and Dry  if you want to get a good taste of his writing.

Thank you Augusten for being as authentic in person as you are on the page.  I am not waiting for inspiration but will follow your lead….. with one exception.  Fred the cat is my companion as I write this piece:)




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