Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Richard Ford in today's New York Times

Richard Ford talks about his new book, The Lay of the Land in this New York Times story.

Also...I've been thinking a lot about why authors live where they live and how you find writers in certain areas more than in other areas.

For instance, where I live, in Orange County, California, there are few authors. UC-Irvine is here, with the MFA program that most writers would kill to get into and when they don't, no matter how talented they are, it scars them for years, it seems. But when writers graduate from UCI, most leave the area. They go to Los Angeles, Northern California or far away. Is it just the cost of real estate in these parts, or is it something else?

A friend from ASJA said there are some 500 writers, agents and editors who belong to a group in Montclair, NJ, who get together and do events. 500? There was a piece in the New York Times a while ago about how Brooklyn is overrun with writers.

I've been wanting to leave the O.C. for some time, but I doubt it's for the same reasons that other writers don't stay.

Just mulling.....if you have any thoughts, let them fly. I want to hear.

23 comments:

Rhea said...

I grew up in New Jersey and live in Boston now. I'm a journalist. Boston is a great place for writers. Everywhere you turn there are writing groups, writing classes, lectures by well-regarded authors, bookstores all over the place, and on and on. I bet you would enjoy it here. Of course, the winter weather stinks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I live in a street in a very small town in New Zealand which has drawn very creative people to it. Opposite me is a painter. Next to her is an older couple who are creative artistically in many ways, there's me, a writer and a couple moved in a few months ago from Seattle and she is a dancer and he is a writer. It feels like somehow the universe is calling us to be near each other...

oglethorpe said...

It seems to me, writers shouldn't seek to live among writers - it's a little too clubby that way. Writers should write about the place they're in - whether they were born there or came voluntarily looking for something and whether or not they found it. As Bren Franklin said, "Our discontents lay not in our places but in ourselfs."

Leslea said...

You know, there are times when I wished I lived elsewhere, somewhere more inspiring...but recently I realized that I actually love where I live, where I'm from, and that I'd rather live here than anywhere else in the world. I'd still like to travel and vacation to other places, but there's a particular spot on a hill-top overlooking the rest of the metro area, really nice views, etc...that's the spot where I want to build a house and live, no matter what. And feathering the nest appropriately feels more important to my writing than the access to writing groups.

Maybe it's the same reason I went to business school instead of becoming an English teacher, as was my original tack. I just...decided I needed a firmer foundation, personally, and knew I wouldn't get that by being a little fish in a big pond of creative, dynamic, exciting "big city" people in a vibrant city.

I love cities. I'm not afraid to travel. We have a lot of fun...but I am a small-town girl at heart and take comfort there. I think that's good.

Re: Irvine, a friend of mine is from there (Bob Irvine is his name). I know it is a wonderful city according to his accounts. But he likes it here, too. Maybe you go where you think you ought to go, or where your heart leads you, but you only stay where the fit is actually complete.

(((hugs)))

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Leslea,
Personally speaking, Irvine is a snore. I lived there for a time--when I first moved south from San Francisco--and a few years, I recall standing in the living, gazing out at the strawberry fields, and thinking, What's become of me, that I live in Irvine and soon moved out of town to this house where we've rented for way too many years. I'm at another point where I'm again saying, What's become of me......

oglethorpe said...

Accept your fate, woman. Take root and flourish in the land of make believe.

Tim Peoples said...

I think that Word Imp is on to something. I live in Austin, and I used to live in Houston--both cities have active literary communities (Houston more than Austin, but both are better than anywhere else I've lived). I can't speak for anyone else, but the draw for me is local investment in the arts. Austin businesses, especially Book People and the Alamo Drafthouse, try to encourage local and regional artists. Houston is more "corporate America"-ish, but it has a huge museum district, a huge theatre district, and the support of major universities. My point (really, I have one) is that artists in general flourish where diversity of art exists.

P.S. Barbara, if you move, you have to promise to take "Writers on Writing" with you. It's the only podcast I listen to consistently.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Thanks for the kind words, Tim...

Here in the O.C. there is little support for the arts. We have a big spanking new performing arts center, and that's something. But it's not exactly what I'm after.

What am I after? Living somewhere where what you do every day isn't called a lifestyle, mebbe....

Okay, hey...I don't mean to whine here. My other blog is for that....; }

ogelthorpe said...

I suspect what you're after you'll only find between your ears! If it's not there try 29 Palms.

my friend Sidney said...

I can't remember who said it but I think it's worth citing - "No matter where I go, there I am."

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Yes, well, friend-of-Sidney, today I would like to be somewhere else, especially because of the fires not far from here and the fact that it seems arsonists love to set fires in California. But that's a topic for my other blog, and so I'll go whine there...; }

Sidney said...

What's your other Blog, pray tell?

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Funny guy (as if you don't know)....

http://talesfromtheoc.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Brooklyn of the 1950s and 60s. Williamsburg. I escaped. Back then, no one dared admit to being a writer in my neighborhood. It wouldn't have been healthy.

Today, Williamsburg is gentrified and the houses cost a cool million. With that affluence, people can now admit to writing aspirations without fear of being ostracized . . . or worse!

Sylvia G. said...

Why do authors live where they live? Maybe, because they grew up there...:-) It's more of an American thing I think (as far as I have experience with Americans) that they are moving from one place to another all the time, which, of course, has many reasons they themselves know the best, but here in Europe, at least in this small town in Slovakia where I live, the tradition has been that a writer was born here, lived here, created here, and died here...(apart from going on vacations, certainly :-)). And inspiration seemed to come from the area and the region.
Regardless that it's a home of many well-known novelists and poets in our literature, there are no writing groups as such, nothing even close to it. Shame.
But maybe I can iniciate one...?

Thanks Barbara! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I went to school in Santa Fe, NM, mecca for artists and art types, and it's true: there's just something in the air there that makes you want to create. Maybe it's the old magic that lives in the mountains.

You don't get a lot of old magic in the OC. ;)

Anonymous said...

I understand your feelings about Orange County completely. I moved here 12 years ago, so that my husband could run his family business. We moved from S.F. and I experienced a big dose of culture shock. I was really depressed for a while and then I made a decision to find interesting things to do. I volunteered for the literacy council, got a teaching credential and sought out people who were more creative. There are still times that I feel like a stranger in a strange land, but I've found a way to laugh at all of the obsurdities of life in the O.C. My real concern is what my children are learning about life from this place. I try to infuse their lives with different experiences and people, so that they understand the world outside better. One of my biggest life lines to creativity in the past couple of years has been your show on KUCI. I took your class two years ago and I have been listening ever since. Sadly, I havn't made much progress on the writing, but your encouragement keeps me from letting it go all together. I know how isolating it feels to live in a place that does not welcome those who see the world in different hues. However, isn't that the true job of any artist; to encourage people to see anew what they think they know for sure.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

I love this thread, especially as I continue to drool at images of houses on realtor.com. VT, PA (Bucks Co.)....and then this morning on NPR I heard about a town in Iowa, (Diresville) where Field of Dreams was shot. They have a law that says no sex offenders (the registered ones, anyway) may live within the city limits and I thought, I want to go there.

Something Sylvia G. said above: "...Here in Europe, at least in this small town in Slovakia where I live, the tradition has been that a writer was born here, lived here, created here, and died here...(apart from going on vacations, certainly :-)).." made me consider that, and seriously revisit the idea of moving back to PA where I'm from, and live close to a few relatives I've known longest and have loved since. I didn't leave because I hated it there; I loved it, actually. A new husband and college drew me to VT, which I also loved.

Lacy...there ispower in mountains, in verdant surroundings.

And Anonymous....I am so curious as to who you are. Astute, calm observations.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

And by the way, Richard Ford may be coming on my show in the very near future. We're seeing if our schedules match. I hope they do. Keep ya posted....

Celera said...

I'm not a professional writer, at least not now, but I have recently started writing and it's great to know that there really are writers and other creative people here. I grew up in Minneapolis, and after 18 years I still feel at home when I am there, and like a visitor here in Orange County. In fact, I would feel more at home almost anywhere else.

There's nothing wrong with Orange County really. Well, there's something wrong with Irvine -- the Stepford suburb -- but really many parts of it are quite nice. And many of the people here are wonderful too. You can't blame it on the cost of real estate, since homes are expensive in New York,and San Francisco and London and Paris and these are all famously hospitable environments for creative people.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of part of an essay I've been writing about place and creativity....

I never planned to live in Southern California. When I moved here in 1980 it seemed like something just happened. I wasn't so much making a decision, as going along for the ride. But the funny thing is how I'm rooted here now; I've made this silly, sunny place my home. In my backyard, there’s an orange tree and a Jacuzzi. Instead of listening to the rattle of rakes rustling leaves or feeling the leaden April rains falling in Manhattan, I tell seasons by the timing of purple bursts of sea lavender or the sunset burning vermilion hues into the late afternoon sky. I point my car west when someone tells me to drive toward the ocean. And I've given up the fantasy of moving back to New York. That's not true. I’ve kept the fantasy. But when I go to New York, even for a long time, I know it's only to visit.
Because somehow I know I have to get back here again, back to California. Sure, I'll fly across the country at the drop of a hat, rush to the city for a weekend, for any reason, for none at all. But I always tunnel back. Clutching the warm underbelly of the earth, traveling through memory's scars, I grope my way across the country, home.

Anonymous said...

You have happened upon my favorite topic -- Life in the O.C. I have always felt it was absurd, and after having a child, was convinced it was unreal. What I never realized till recently is how sleepy and insular it is. Perhaps these are the characteristics that are driving you crazy? It is a bit of a closed society which I think would drive a writer nuts. What to do, what to do. I think one in your situation would do what you did which is draw creative and inspiring people into your life.

imzens said...

Barbara:

The diversity in OC is incredible. Have you driven or walked or rode a bicycle on any kind of open-ended adventure through the vast cultural and scenic wonderland you are privileged to be a part of here? I've lived in OC since 1955 and can't even hope to assimilate the multiplicity of landscape, culture and beauty of this part of the US. An ever changing kleidescope... a feast for the eye and heart. At 71 and an immigrant from South Dakota 52 years ago, I can only contrast what my life would have been there with what opened up to me here.