Category Archives: folklore and ethnography

THE HOW I WRITE BLOG TOUR

The Monday book will return next week. My friend Susie Klein http://www.recoveringchurchlady.com/ asked me to participate in an ongoing blog tour called HOW I WRITE. I answer four questions, as she did for the person who asked her, and then I ask two other authors to answer them.

OK, here we go….

1- What am I working on?

A sequel to Little Bookstore.

2- How does my work differ form others of its genre?

Well, most of what I write is either academic work, memoir, or blog. As blogs go, bookstore bloggers are all very different from each other in our senses of humor and senses of purpose, but we tend to revisit similar themes. Save the bookstores. Cherish your local. Shop bricks and mortar. Don’t self-publish with Amazon believing they’re there to help you. Aren’t books great? Aren’t customers cute? Those kinds of things.

In terms of my memoir writing being different, it’s like asking “how is this poem different from that one?” All sonnets have the same strict form, and yet within them you can write about absolutely any subject you want to. So all memoirs are alike in that they’re carved from your perceptions and experiences, and they couldn’t be the same any more than two snowflakes could, because they’re your perceptions and experiences.

3- Why do I write what I do?

Joan Didion and Flannery O’Connor both said more or less that they write to figure out what they think and know. I write because I’d explode if I didn’t. It is the perfect way to order thought, smooth out roughness, reconcile, regroup, even relegate to the dark corners. Once it’s on paper, it’s out, not in, whether anyone ever sees it or not. That’s why I write, but as to writing what I do, well, agents in general and mine in particular are always urging writers to write the story only they can tell. That makes sense to me; we’re all trying to save the world and write something meaningful, but trying to write a story that needs to be told isn’t the same as telling your story. The only story you can tell is yours – fiction, non-fiction, narrative, poem, even photo or mathematics formula. It has to belong to you in some unique way.

4. How does my writing process work?

Despite my best efforts to have a schedule or regimen, I continue to work on whatever laptop is available, in the bookstore, between customers and after hours. We have three laptops available for customers and for special orders, so I try to remember to save the thing on a thumb drive in case I use a different one tomorrow.

I’m tagging two author friends: Dana TrentĀ http://jdanatrent.com/blog/ who wrote The Saffron Cross, and Cami OstmanĀ http://www.camiostman.net/about/ whose first book was Second Wind, and then co-edited Beyond Belief: the secret lives of women in extreme religions.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, publishing, reading, shopsitting, Uncategorized, VA, writing

Celtic Connections

Jack’s weekly guest blog ruminates on the connective threads of here, there, then, and now

Now that we’re back from Wisconsin, things are beginning to get busy around here. And they appear to be taking on a British Isles tinge, I might add.

Yesterday I started teaching a series of five weekly classes on Scottish ballads and folk songs at the Higher Ed Center in Abingdon. This is always enjoyable and I’ve been doing it semi-annually for a few years now.

At the same time I am gearing up for the annual small group tour that I conduct around Scotland every year at the end of June. Everything is pretty much in place as I write this. The tour is another ‘labor of love’ – something I enjoy doing that ends up introducing me to a most interesting and diverse group of people. Since I always go over a few days before the tour starts, I get to catch up with friends and family. This year Wendy will finally be joining me after it ends, something we’ve been hoping for since I started this crazy venture eight years ago.

On top of that, as one of the group that organizes Big Stone Celtic (Sept 26 and 27, so mark your calendars!) I’m beginning to put together the program. For the first time we have an internationally famous headliner, Barbara Dickson, making her debut this side of the Atlantic, so I’m in the throes of applying for her work visa – a steep learning curve! Who knew the American government would require so much paperwork?

Just in case that isn’t enough I continue to put together my weekly radio show Celtic Clanjamphry (known affectionately now as ‘ClanJam’). Now in its sixth year (whoda thunk it, as they say in Southwest Virginia) my ongoing quest is to cover as many of the Celtic Nations as possible via music ancient and modern.

And finally, of course there are our regular bookstore events. Irish storyteller (and our good friend) Liz Weir will be the centerpiece of our evening of Irish stories and food tonight. Second Story Cafe owner Kelley is preparing Beef and Guinness pie, Colcannon and Apple Crumble to complete the Irish feast.

Now, the great thing about all these happenings are the connections between them. Liz attended our wedding in Scotland, and she hosts my tour group every second year. Folk who listen to ClanJam come on the tour and folk who have been on the tour drop into the bookstore and come to our events. Others who attend my classes come to the bookstore, listen to the radio show and will be on this year’s tour. Big Stone Celtic fits right into all that and brings hundreds of visitors to our small town every year. It’s a nice circle, on a background of plaid and emerald green!

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, Downton Abbey, folklore and ethnography, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA