The man is brilliant. And hilarious.The best thing was how much I could identify with him-- a middle-aged man who's not my dad. Just offhand comments like:
- "Most writers are introverts...here, I'm in control of the situation, but having dinner with a stranger?" SO TRUE. This is why I speak in English and don't in math. I'm confident in the former, and less so in the latter, plus math has right and wrong, where as English has write and support. (See what I did there? Ah, lame puns.)
- "I was once in an elevator with one of my favorite authors and didn't say a word to him- not because I was shy, but because I literally had nothing to say." That is how I feel every time I'm in the room with an author I admire. I let my dad do the talking and then build off of what he says.
- "When you're 15 and reading your 13 year old diary, you just want to burn it. But when you're 30 and reading your 13 year old diary, you love yourself. Don't burn your diaries." Well...does it count if I've scratched out lines and torn out pages?
- "You've got to understand, I keep talking because no one at home listens to me for this long anymore." Me too. Maybe that's why I blog so much.
He also had what I thought to be very good writing advice. In short:
- "Just keep writing your brains out all the time."
- Ignore grammar rules. Write how you speak. (But "if you're teaching English...you MAKE those kids learn grammar.")
- Don't consciously develop your style. It'll just ruin the voice you have already. (This was particularly helpful to me)
- Ignore people who give you general writing advice. Content is a different story.
- Have people read your stuff aloud to you.
When we got to the signing table, my copy of Ender's Game was made out to me, but Dad said that he didn't want the new one to be in case my sisters got jealous. So instead it reads: "To Don...Olivia's dad...and Sarah's dad...and Nicole's dad. So many paths, so little time. 12/1/10"
And I have surprisingly very little to say about the actual writing club meeting today, other than that it was very enjoyable, as always.