Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


The writer who doesn’t read books

I was at a book sale and signing event recently, sharing a table with another writer. The bookstore, located in a place with virtually no foot traffic, was near-empty, and the only people who came to our tables were interested in getting our signatures so that they could use them to enter a raffle the store had organized. My table partner and I spent the time talking about the usual things: book marketing strategies, the publishing industry and our current projects.

Eventually, I asked the guy, “What are you reading?”

He shrugged and said, in a tone so casual to be almost dismissive. “Eh, I don’t really read books. I’m just not really into them right now.”

I had no way of preparing myself for this. The guy was young, in his mid-20’s, right at the age when I had discovered writers who would remain favorites for the duration of my life, whose influence on my writing will never evaporate. He was at the age when I—no children or frightening responsibilities in my life—read between two and three hours each day, towers of books on my nightstand, desk and toilet tank. To this day, I don’t ever leave the house without a book in my bag, so I simply couldn’t hide my shock. “You don’t read?”

“I mean, I do research for projects. I like to study, mostly, so I get stuff from the internet. But I just don’t read books right now.”

I started stuttering. Perhaps I appeared offended. The experience was painful, stinging, unfathomable, inexplicable…I felt strain in my stomach and was overwhelmed by an urge to clench my teeth. “So, how do you work on craft without looking at stuff written by people who are better than you?”

“Eh, I get feedback. I’m in a writer’s group.”

“And…these writers. Do they also reject books? Do they ever tell you things like, ‘Your writing reminds me of such and such?’”

“Maybe they like books, but we don’t talk about it. The group is all about writing, so we focus on that.”

I sat with his answer for many minutes, feeling the silence stretching between us like a bungee cord about to kick back with the force of a falling elephant. I imagined the guitarist who did not listen to guitar, the painter who did not look at paintings, the doctor who rejected convalescence, the teacher who had nothing to learn. On any level, in any environment, the sculptor who had no use for sculpture would be considered a buffoon. If a singer came to a singing coach to reveal she had no interest in listening to song, the coach should send her packing. Yet this young man sat cocksure and certain of his intrinsic talent. Reading would be an admission of either weakness or incapacity.

I finally asked him, “How do you rationalize selling books to people when you don’t want to buy or consume books yourself?”

“Yeah, I get that point. I mean, it’s true, I guess, kinda. But I just got so many things on my plate. I don’t need to read someone else’s stuff to sell my own.”

I realized I was the only person to have ever asked this man that question. His education and culture must have reinforced his position as reasonable and rational. Still, I’d have a much easier time with the pharmacist who knows her wares are poisons just as I could get my head around the grocer who sold high fructose corn syrup without ever eating it himself. But…dude…these are books.

Books.

In America, in the 21st century, it’s not just the president and his followers who don’t read. Some writers have also joined their ranks.

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Photo of a contemporary book burning from Wikipedia.


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Take my Prose Writing Workshop, 2018

Following the super-successful writing course that occurred last year, I’m teaching another prose writing workshop this spring. This time I’m changing a few things around, including the time of the week and venue. I’m excited about the details:

The Gint Aras Prose Writing Workshop
Wednesdays, April 4-May 23, 7:00-8:30
L!ive Cafe and Creative space
163 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302
Cost: $395

Interested parties should register quickly. Last year’s workshop slots filled in after only a week. The way you register is by sending me the tuition via PayPal. The first eight people to send me tuition and their names will be registered. Because there are limited slots, and because I need to get organized, all registration purchases are final.

The prose workshop will also feature a reading and presentation of our works, held right at L!ve Cafe. The reading preparation will include coaching in public presentation skills, reading practice, pacing and contact with the audience.

If you’re stumbling on this blog for the first time,  you can learn more about me here.

My workshop is not based on any expectation I have of what writing “should be” or any aesthetic I favor. Instead, I use a method that asks writers to consider their goals and what methods or techniques best help achieve them. While I write literary fiction and essays myself, I’m a hungry reader and have plenty of experience with genre fiction, memoir, philosophy, etc. The only limitation is that participants write in prose. I will not offer commentary on poetry.

A word about L!ve cafe:

We’re renting the space after hours, which means the whole cafe is entirely ours! This includes the services of a barista who will serve amazing coffee, tea and food. L!ve Cafe is conveniently located steps from the Green Line (Oak Park Station) in beautiful Oak Park.

If you have any questions, please email me.

o

 


Reading from Ghetto Blueblood

In January, I had the pleasure of reading at Waterline Writers, among the most welcoming communities for writers. The venue at Water Street Studios is worth visiting on its own.

Fans of The Fugue and Finding the Moon in Sugar might be curious to know what I’m working on now. This reading offers a sneak preview. This excerpt comes from a recently completed manuscript, titled Ghetto Blueblood, which I’m currently shopping.

Yes…my beard was shaved. My kids had lice, so I sliced it all off as a precaution.

Enjoy. If you’re an industry professional who stumbled on this and became interested, please contact me.

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Take a meditation course

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be teaching a course this spring at the Zen Life and Meditation Center in Oak Park. The course is called the Core Primer Series. Here’s the description from the Center’s website:

Learn Mindfulness Meditation Today. Our Core Primer Series consists of 8 classes and two practice sessions. These classes will ground you in the fundamentals of living a Zen-inspired life.

If you’re wondering what a “Zen-inspired life” is, you’re asking exactly the same question I asked when I first signed up for a Primer course back in 2012. I’m not going to answer it here, except to say that the Core Primer Series teaches participants to develop a practice that allows for living proactively. Meditation improves one’s well being in countless ways.

You can see the calendar here. I’m teaching the class that begins April 7th, Saturdays from 10:00-11:30.

If anyone has questions about this class, they can send them here.

 

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