I laugh about it now, but seriously, Seth Harwood was and still is an inspiring author, who actually made me think it possible to survive as an indie author in the crazy world of publishing.
In any case, I’ll be talking to Seth on the next podcast. As I write this, I’m listening to his giveaway, which you can find right here on this guest post. And I’m smiling, because once again I’m singularly impressed with what Seth has to offer.
Who else but Seth would come up with a Maltese Falcon parody podcast involving sneakers? 🙂
Enough from me! Here’s Seth Harwood’s guest post.
In 1999 I had the good fortune to study with one of my heroes, the novelist and short story writer Denis Johnson. This happened at a workshop put on by the University of Montana at a place called Yellow Bay on Flathead Lake.
I took a two-day train trip out of Boston, on Amtrak, and stepped off a train in Whitefish, Montana, spent the night there, and arranged for someone to drive me the rest of the way to the lake. A couple hours, I think.
During that week I met other writers and had a great time. But the highlight was meeting and actually becoming friends with my hero, Denis Johnson.
He liked the pieces I put up for workshop very much, chief among these “When They Were Calling You in for Dinner.” Late in the week, he took me aside. We walked along the shore of the lake, skipping rocks onto the water. He told me (and here I’m paraphrasing), “if you take care of your craft and focus on writing well, everything else will work out.” He said it much more succinctly, clearly, but that was the heart of it. In short, he gave me the confidence to write. Even more than that, he gave me the seed of a faith that this could work. Not the start, but perhaps a foundation of my belief.
He encouraged me to apply to graduate programs, and a year later I wound up at his alma-mater, the University of Iowa, and the Writers’ Workshop. We corresponded for a few years after that and I had the pleasure of being his Iowa City tour guide when he came to read in 2002.
He was a friend, a teacher, and a great writer–the author of Jesus’ Son and the National Book Award-Winning Tree of Smoke, among others.
And now we have lost him. May Denis Johnson rest in peace.
This summer I searched out the tape I bought of his “craft lecture” at that conference and found it, bought a small auto-reverse cassette walkman with a USB output, and I converted it to audio. I hope you’ll enjoy this. I certainly taught me a lot.
Click here to listen or right-click to download the file: http://shoutengine.com/SethHarwoodCrime/SethHarwoodCrime-1999-denis-johnson-craft-lecture-1999-37622.mp3
Seth Harwood received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and went on to build a large readership for his first novel, JACK WAKES UP, by serializing it as a free audiobook online.
He is the author of four additional novels, EVERYONE PAYS, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, THIS IS LIFE and YOUNG JUNIUS, as well as two collections of short stories, A LONG WAY FROM DISNEY and FISHER CAT & OTHER STORIES.
He teaches creative writing for Stanford and Harvard.