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Today’s topics might seem unrelated. Here is how they connected for me today:
I perused the Wisconsin Book Festival schedule this morning to decide which programs to attend. Again. I’ve already circled events I’m interested in, written them down. But what if I overlooked a talk or an event? Perhaps I forgot to write one down, if I missed one I could have attended (I am taking off work to attend, I should make the most of it) that would be disappointing.

“You’re taking off work for the Book Festival?” ‘Yeah.’ “So, you’re really going to do this, then? Because if not, you should go drive and earn a little money.” ‘Yes, I guess I am doing this. I am.’ = conversation with myself in which I decide, again, that I will put my energies toward my writing.

I keep vacillating between deciding to write and giving up on my decision to write. Not exactly “giving up”… more a lack of self-confidence, a frustration at the difficulty I have in getting down on paper/screen the stories and images I need to express, and thoughts of ‘who am I kidding’. The first may have much to do with the last.
I defeat myself.
I waste how much energy on re-making the decision to pursue my writing? My indecision seems wasteful. Is it necessary?

What if I let myself write and accept that a) I am not very good at it, b) I will write plenty of crap (it’s part of the process), c) I will write anyway because I seem to like it and writing feels necessary, d) liking writing and feeling fulfilled by it are enough to justify my doing it, and e) I am slow and not terribly productive and that’s okay.

What if. What if I just wrote.

Here are some events I plan on attending at the Wisconsin Book Festival:

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat
Sat, Nov. 10  |  5:15PM – 6:30PM – Promenade Hall/Overture
“Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. Acclaimed for the richness of her prose and her early success as a young writer, Danticat received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009. Interweaving the intensely private with the public sphere, Create Dangerously explores the often complicated — and sometimes painful — relationships artists have with the homelands they have left behind.”

Sex, Race and Class – The Perspective of Winning by Selma James
Fri, Nov. 9  |  7:30PM – Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative
“As the US elects the “President of the World”, hear from Selma James who has spent decades building the movement for change, starting with the needs of women & children.
In 1972 Selma James set out a new political perspective. Her starting point was the millions of unwaged women who, working in the home and on the land, were not seen as “workers” and their struggles viewed as outside of the class struggle. Based on her political training, on movement experience South and North, and on a respectful study of Marx, she redefined the working class to include sectors previously dismissed as ‘marginal.’
For James, the class struggle presents itself as the conflict between the reproduction and survival of the human race, and the domination of the market with its exploitation, wars, and ecological devastation. She sums up her strategy for change as ‘Invest in Caring Not Killing.'”

Jesse Lee was my (Creative Writing) senior thesis adviser at the UW-Madison!
The Silence of Lost Worlds presented by Jesse Lee Kercheval and Lewis Koch
Thu, Nov. 8  |  7:30PM – 9:00PM – MMoCA (Madison Museum of Contemp. Art)
“Accompanied by the flickering images of silent film footage, Jesse Lee Kercheval will read from Cinema Muto, a collection of poetry that brims with stirring images of cinema legends gone by and celebrates the tales of madness and adventure, drama and love so often left to decay in forgotten vaults. Poet and visual artist Lewis Koch will share phtographs [sic] and poetry from Bomber, a chance unwinding, a contemplative chapbook-collage of a World War II bomber crash site in remote Wyoming, offering a photo-poetic meditation on the futility of war, the collision of war and nature, and the importance of memory, grief, and healing.”

And of course I’ll attend this one!:
Discovering New Lands, Real and Imaginary presented by Sofia Samatar and José Barreiro
Sun, Nov. 11 | 4:00PM – 5:15PM – A Room of One’s Own Bookstore
“In Taíno José Barreiro travels back in time to imagine Columbus’ landing in the New World from the perspective of Guaikàn, a Taíno man who was adopted as Columbus’ ‘native son.’ Based on a true story, Barreiro’s Taíno penetrates the historical veil that still enshrines the “discovery” of America. In Sofia Samatar’s debut fantasy novel, A Stranger in Olondria, Jevick the pepper merchant’s son travels from his home in a non-literate land and discovers the power of the written word. Pulled drastically off-course he becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate girl who challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile and the seduction of language on the page.”

You can visit Sofia’s blog here and you can preorder her novel from Small Beer Press here.

Five days of of all things books, including various bookmaking demonstrations at Anthology :
Slinky Bookmaking Demonstration, Thursday Nov. 8 at 4pm, Finding the Not-So-Lost Art of Bookmaking: Artists’ Reception, Friday Nov. 9 at 5pm, and Make & Take Your Own Pop-Up Book, Sunday Nov. 11 at 3 pm.

Storytelling, inspiration, joy, wonder, enchantment…. books!    Books!  A festival of books.  Wow!

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