Guest Post with Stephanie Vanderslice

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to be here to bring you a guest post from Stephanie Vanderslice. Please help me by giving her a warm welcome to the blog!


So, here’s the story behind The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life, a memoir for people who want to live the writing life--

The first thing you need to know is that I have a thing about books about the writing life.  I can’t get enough of them.  Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird is my favorite but I have a long list of other beloved “writing life book” authors, including Heather Sellers,Julia Cameron, Robin Black, Elizabeth Gilbert, Grant Faulkner.  Seriously, when I go to the bookstore, the reference shelves are one of the first places I check.  That’s where they keep the books on writing and I have to see if there’s anything new.

A lot of people might wonder why I like these books so much--I mean, shouldn’t I be, you know, writing instead of reading them?  The truth is, I get plenty of writing done--but I also get discouraged, like anyone else.  I have to keep my spirits up and I do it by reading these “pep talks” in book form.  

I’m also someone who loves to learn from other people, and let me tell you, besides reading literature itself and taking classes, there are few better ways to learn about writing than reading a writing life book where someone else talks about how they do it.

The second thing you need to know is that while I was writing several other books, including my first novel, The Lost Son, another memoir, and some hybrid scholarly books about teaching creative writing, I started my own writing blog in 2007 and eventually got a break to write for the Huffington Post in 2012.  I loved talking directly to my “people”--other writing geeks, in that venue, especially when other writers in cyberspace told me that my story had encouraged them or set them on a new path. That experience got me thinking I could expand those conversations into a book about developing a writing life for “regular people” like me.  

The rest is history, as they say.  I began outlining the book, drawing on my years of writing and teaching other writers.  I also re-read Bird by Bird for the umpteenth time ( I hardly ever re-read other books, so this alone says volumes about how I feel about it) because if I was going to model this book after anything, it was going to be my favorite writing book.

I wrote The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life aiming for the same easy, conversational, memoir-like style as Bird by Bird, but there are important differences.  The main difference is that I don’t talk much about craft in this book, the way Anne Lamott and many, many other authors do.  There are plenty of great craft books out there and I didn’t feel the need to add to them. No, what I talk about is the how of the writing life.  How you fit it into your busy job and family schedule.  How you break into your first publication.  What it’s like to seek and find an agent, to have a book on “submission” with major publishers.  These shouldn’t be trade secrets--and yet, at the same time, the realities of the life of the writer can be shrouded in mystery.  I wanted to lift that shroud and say, “here’s how I did this, maybe it will work for you.”

My dream for this book is that it might be the book someone else reaches for when they are feeling discouraged in their writing and are seeking some inspiration.  I would love to see it grow worn and dog-eared, littered with sticky notes and underlinings, to know that it followed someone faithfully them over the years from shelf to shelf, the way my own 1994 edition of Lamott’s book has.  That was my goal when I sat down to write The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life, with Bird by Bird never more than an arms-length away, and I’ve tried to stay faithful to that vision.  Now it’s time to let it out into the world. If you want to write, I hope you’ll seek it out.

Other Information:
Author name:  Stephanie Vanderslice
 Web site (and any other links you’d like included: Facebook, Twitter, buy pages, etc.):

Stephanie Vanderslice was born in Queens, NY in 1967 and grew up there and in the suburbs of Albany. Her essays have appeared in Mothers in All But Name, Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in their 40's and many others. In addition to The Geek's Guide to the Writing Life, she has also published Can Creative Writing Really Be Taught? 10th Anniversary edition (co-edited with Rebecca Manery) with Bloomsbury. Other books include Rethinking Creative Writing and Teaching Creative Writing to Undergraduates (with Kelly Ritter). Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the Arkansas Writer's MFA Workshop at the University of Central Arkansas, she also writes novels and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and creative criticism in such venues as Ploughshares Online, Easy Street and others. Her column, The Geek's Guide to the Writing Life appears regularly in the Huffington Post.

Thanks Stephanie for coming by the blog today!

Happy Reading!

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