New York · Quotes · San Francisco

Friday Writing Inspiration: Allen Ginsberg, Writing in SF and the Joy of Reading

allen-ginsberg-writing-quoteWhere oh where do I begin? Well, I’ll start with this Allen Ginsberg quote. How great is that? I definitely enjoy following my “inner moonlight,” haters be damned! But anyway, think about that, and then let me update you on yesterday’s happenings.

It was a good day for writing. I headed to my first Litquake author event. Litquake is a SF writing community, and they do a lot of cool events around here, so I am excited to get more involved. I met people both published through traditional means and on their own, and it was great to be surrounded by fellow Bay Area writers (as I’ve been sorely missing the scene from Brooklyn) and to hear about their experiences and share my experience publishing The After Girls. What we could all agree upon, writing is not very easy, being published even less so. And we all wanted more help with publicity! But, I digress. Being around other writers is always a good thing, and I look forward to more wine-splashed evenings at Litquake.


We followed up the author reception with a trip to the Contemporary Jewish Museum just across the street, where the photographs of Allen Ginsberg were on display. I admittedly know very little about Ginsberg or any of the beat poets and writers, but seeing snaps of SF and NY writers seemed very appropriate. Ginsberg grew up in NJ and made his way to SF like many of the other beats, and his decidedly unprofessional photos of greats like Jack Kerouac (above) and Bob Dylan were pretty awesome to see in print. It definitely captured an era, when writers likely spent a little less time shamelessly publicizing themselves and spent more time actually creating their art. (Maybe it wasn’t this simple, but it sure seems that way.) Granted, the cost of living (especially in cities) was much more manageable then, and writers weren’t mired in things like student debt, but again, I digress. It reminded me of the importance of surrounding yourself with other writers and artists—and how lucky I am to know so many people whose work I truly respect and admire. All in all it was a great trip and event.

And finally, I wanted to mention one last story, written by a Canadian author on publicity and the pressure put on writers to basically be a publicist and write all kinds of things for free. It’s worth a read. I think the most interesting point is the media’s obsession with how to write and “writing tips”. I am guilty of posting many of these, and I don’t regret any of it, as I do think I have some valuable things to share. But her argument that we should be a society of readers and not writers is a good one. The best way to learn how to write, in my opinion, at least, is to read read read—literary, commercial, old, new, long, short. And I highly support the kind of focus she is pushing for—on reading and enjoying the craft of writers who have worked so hard to get where they are—and focusing less on the “how to write” kinds of stories. (Says the girl who has several books on plotting gathering dust on the bookshelf at home.)

Happy Friday and happy writing!

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