Essay Reading Tour, 2014 Kicks Off

                                                             For Immediate Release

BEST-SELLING AUTHOR AND NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST JOYCE WADLER JOINS ESSAY READING TOUR AT CITY WINERY IN NEW YORK CITY

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December, 2013 (New York) — The New York-based traveling essay reading series, “Living, Out Loud: Writers Riff on Love, Sweat & Fears,” welcomes New York Times humor columnist and author, Joyce Wadler for a special guest appearance at the intimate Wine Room in City Winery, the legendary New York City performance venue.  This unique  event — hosted by PBS correspondent Bill Boggs, who’s a four-time Emmy Award-winning TV host and executive producer — takes place on January 10th, at 8 pm; doors open at 7 pm.  Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance here.  

Wadler will read two of her essays, along with regulars Bill German, Paula Ganzi Licata, Claudia Gryvatz Copquin, Barry Dougherty, Iyna Bort Caruso and Robin Eileen Bernstein.

The group has toured all over Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan to packed venues which have included The Half King, Guild Hall in East Hampton, Cornelia St. Café, The Sidewalk Café and DUMBO Arts Festival.   The reading at the Wine Room at City Winery will kick off the series for 2014. 

About Joyce Wadler:  Joyce Wadler is a New York City humorist who writes the “I Was Misinformed” column for The New York Times, where she was a staff reporter for 15 years. Before coming to the Times, Ms. Wadler worked as a feature writer and crime reporter for newspapers and magazines and she was the New York correspondent for The Washington Post, as well as a contributing editor for New York Magazine and Rolling Stone.  Her books include “My Breast,” her memoir about breast cancer, “Cured: My Ovarian Cancer Story” and “Liaison,” the story of the French civil servant and the Chinese opera singer which inspired the play “M. Butterfly.”

About “Living, Out Loud”:   With decades of experience in publishing and multiple industry awards among them, this diverse group of writers has banded together to share their passion for the personal essay with audiences throughout the New York metropolitan area. For more, please visit our Facebook page.

It Happens: Newspaper…Book…National Column.

A story:

Back in 2000, as a freelance writer I was retained by Newsday for a year-long series that was to run in the paper every day.  They were calling it “Names of New York.”  It involved research and history — a perfect love match for my interests.  Newsday provided me with a long list of New York-based streets, landmarks, bridges, highways, and my job was to research and write about their name origins. The articles, which you can find under “Pages” here, looked like this:

Solomon R guggenheim MuseumIt was a sweet gig and you know what made it even better?

One day, while the “Names of New York” series was running, I received a call, out of the blue — an offer to write a book.  On Queens, where I grew up.  The publisher?  Yale University Press.  Seriously.  That turned into an amazing, interesting and grueling four-year project but the result was my first book and two nods by The New York Times — once when it was released in hardcover and later when it came out in paperback.  

The Neighborhoods of QueensFast forward to 2013 and many great assignments in between — I’m now on another fascinating research/writing project, this time for Parade Magazine’s website, Parade.com.  Expanding on my much earlier “Names of New York” work for Newsday, I’m now writing a weekly “Names of America” column.  Research…history…love!

ParadeAnd so kids, the point of this story is clear– yes, freelancing is often a biatch, but once in a while, one plum assignment lays the foundation for future work.  You won’t know it at the time, but it happens.

Parade ContributorAnd now back to your regularly scheduled querying and kvetching.

My Week with David Rakoff

David Rakoff

Much like David Rakoff’s starry fantasy of befriending Bette Midler on a film set, returning to “her rambling apartment.  It will be the maid’s night off and we’ll eat leftovers from the icebox: cold chicken and pie.  Milk from a glass bottle….” (“The Satisfying Crunch of Dreams Underfoot,” Half Empty), I harbored a similar fancy last summer.

I had applied for and in April been accepted into the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference, a week wherein aspiring authors and essayists are immersed in workshops and lectures given by esteemed literary faculty — Susan Cheever, Jules Feiffer, Mary Karr, Roger Rosenblatt, Meg Wolitzer … David Rakoff’s name popped out at me.  He was teaching a personal essay workshop for a week in July and while the cost was in the thousands, seven days with Rakoff would be heaven, I thought. 

Workshops were touted as smallish and intimate, so naturally, all of May and June my daydreams revolved around elaborate scenarios wherein on the first day of class, David took immediate note of my pithy comments and wry observations. Following his first class assignment — to write an essay about our earliest memory — David would scour the room, then point in my direction and ask me to read my piece out loud. Pleasantly surprised by my skill, he’d laugh heartily at my witty phrasings but would also nod in approval at the depth behind my cleverly chosen verbiage.

Then he’d pull me over after class and whisper, “What are you even doing here? This workshop is for amateurs!”

“I really just wanted to meet you,” I’d confess sheepishly.

Then we’d go to lunch on campus every day, but sit huddled together, just the two of us, sharing tunafish sandwiches while we exchanged gossip about David Sedaris and Ira Glass. Really he had all the gossip; I’d listen raptly, enthralled by his hilarious stories; stuff he’d never shared with his friends but knew instinctively that he could trust with me — only me.

After that week, because he was notoriously generous and kind, David Rakoff would offer to be my mentor and introduce me to his agent and editors, as his protegé.  We’d have weekly lunches at the Stork Club and I’d be the envy of every single nonfiction writer in New York City. And beyond.

But none of this was to take place.  And not only because it was a ludicrous flight of my imagination.  In early July of last summer, I received an email from Stony Brook stating that due to advanced illness, David Rakoff had to pull back from my workshop.   They found a substitute teacher.   I asked for a refund and scolded myself for entertaining pointless notions about us.

Still, I thought, as I unpacked my suitcase with a heavy heart, I had been this close to being in his presence…and that would have to suffice.

Have You Hugged a Freelance Writer Today?

Someone just posted on Facebook that it’s National Freelance Writers Appreciation Week. This is a thing?  Being a freelance writer, I wish someone had sent me the memo.  So I could prepare to be appreciated… Now I’m caught completely off guard, with not enough  time to get my hair did!

In honor of said celebration for my chosen profession, a colleague has compiled a list of where the world would be without us.  It includes –

“If it wasn’t for freelancers, magazines like Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, New York, Texas Monthly, Outside, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Readers Digest, Mother Jones, Ms., and countless others would never have been as great as they were or are.

If it wasn’t for freelance writing assignments, authors like Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Lewis, Seymour Hirsch, David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Nora Ephron, Annie Proulx, Annie Lamott and Barbara Kingsolver would never have launched stellar fiction and nonfiction careers.

If it wasn’t for freelance writers, half the country’s trade magazines would have nothing to run between advertisements – I may be exaggerating, but not by much.”

Go read the rest and then find yourself a freelancer to hug.  (Not me, though. I’m busy doing laundry working on an important deadline.)

Have Ink, Will Travel! My Essay Reading Tour is About to Commence…

I’m producing a series of essay readings, a la David Sedaris, with a group of talented writers.  For details, take a look at the press release below and check out the sidebar here for upcoming event dates and locations.   And away, we go!

WRITERS GO ON TOUR FOR ESSAY READING SERIES

“Living, Out Loud: Writers Riff on Love, Sweat & Fears”

New York, NY (January, 2013) – A group of accomplished New York-based writers is banding together for a year-long original essay reading series that  kicks off on February 5th with an event at Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Themed, “Living, Out Loud: Writers Riff on Love, Sweat & Fears,” the reading series brings together a diverse group of professional writers who will read their works to literary audiences throughout venues in New York, Brooklyn and Long Island.

Taking a page from book readings, which usually involve an author reciting directly from a published chapter, this unique series features writers taking turns at the microphone, each reading an original essay.

Jerry Seinfeld, who still does stand-up comedy, was recently quoted in The New York Times Magazine about the need to perform for live audiences,” said the event organizer and writer, Claudia Gryvatz Copquin.  “He said, ‘We’re craving the non-digital even more these days, the authentically human interactions,’ a statement that is extremely on-point, particularly for writers who typically work in isolation.”

In addition to Copquin, a New York Times and Newsday contributor and the author of three books, participating writers in rotation include New York Times “Modern Love” writer and memoirist Paula Ganzi Licata, award-winning NPR humor essayist David Bouchier, two-time New York Emmy award-winning writer Iyna Bort Caruso, speechwriter and essayist Robin Bernstein, and Friars Club historian and head writer Barry Dougherty.

Some essays have been previously published in magazines and newspapers while others are never-before-seen.  “The topics run the gamut of the human experience — humor, relationships, love, death…And all offer a unique point of view that we know audiences will relate to,” Copquin added.

The group’s first reading event is on Tuesday, February 5 at 7:30 pm at Guild Hall’s Naked Stage, in East Hampton, NY.  Admission is free (guildhall.org).  Upcoming readings will be held at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor (April 6), The Half King in New York City (April 29), Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington (April 14), The Nassau County Museum of Art (June 2) in Roslyn, and other venues.

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John Lennon? Oh, No He Didn’t…

“Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.”  Yes, I love that quote too, but guess what?  John Lennon didn’t pen it.

To find out who did, take a look at my feature on The Huffington Post.  And  remember, it’s always something.

 

Fifty Shades of Write — A Sadistic New App

I just learned about a new app for writers.  It’s designed to combat that horrid p-word … procrastination.  Say it with me, kids.  Pro-cras-ti-nation.

Every single writer I know suffers from this condition, and often.  But some brilliant techies came up with a solution — a sadistic app called Write or Die.  The tagline:  Putting the Prod in Productivity.   Here’s their app description:

“Write or Die is a new kind of writing productivity application that forces you to write by providing consequences for distraction and procrastination.  As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but if you become distracted, punishment will ensue. Everything is configurable, name your word goal, time goal and preferred punishment, then start writing!”

Among this taskmaster’s punishments?  When the app is set to “kamikaze” mode and you stop writing for a certain amount of time THE WORDS START TO ERASE THEMSELVES.  This is their idea of motivation.

I have a much better antidote to procrastination, and this one doesn’t involve perverse masochistic technology.  It’s called a “calendar.”   All I have to do when my attention span is elsewhere is glimpse at the looming deadline. Oh, and also at my bank balance.  Works every time.