I was able to take 1/2 day vacation to attend the 2010 Tennessee Williams Festival to hear a conversation with David Eggers. Susan Larson, the newly retired book editor of the Times-Picayune, provided the questions for this session.
The room was packed! Some audience members had to sit on the carpet.
David Eggers is an author who has other interests that are related to literacy, reading, and writing.
Although he wanted to be an artist and had the talent to do so, he realized that he was a better writer. He has fond memories of his English teachers and has kept in contact with them. Some of them are now tutors at Chicago branch of 826 Writing and Tutoring Center, a writing center for young people, now located in 7 US cities.
Even though he majored in journalism in college, he felt that he was well trained in how to write well and what he learned has helped him in being a better fiction writer. Other authors who were journalists before becoming novelists include George Orwell and Joan Didion.
Eggers realizes that print journalism is in trouble right now, but he believes there is a place for newspapers. McSweeney's Issue 33 was a newspaper. He passed around a copy to show that a more readable format must be different and worthwhile so that people will read them again.
Eggers gave advice to aspiring writers. He encouraged everyone to join a writing group. The members must be willing to give constructive criticism and help with the editing, by reading your piece six to seven times. Editors at publishing companies aren't doing the necessary editing anymore.
He shared with the audience his method of writing Zeitoun. He and Zeitoun traveled in to the sites where Zeitoun paddled around. When they went to a place for the second time, Eggers videotaped ghd location. Using this method, Eggers was able to reconstruct Zeitoun's experiences in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
After the conversation ended, audience members were able to ask questions. What a nice way to make the audience feel closer to the speaker. It was a great way to spend a nice afternoon.
Click here for other highlights from this conversation.