Monday, March 19, 2012

Meeting Jeanette

I met Jeannette Winterson, a true icon of mine. She came to Skylight and I had the honor of introducing her at her very first reading in Los Angeles. I read her novel The Passion some years ago, and it stuck with me. It wasn't until later that I discovered that she was a lesbian or that her work had been snubbed by some of the literati in her country (She's never won a major prize in her country). She has no problem attacking a literary male hero like Henry Miller. She called out the sexism in Mr. Miller's life, like using his girlfriends to prostitute themselves so he can sustain his life as a writer.

There were two things that she said that really meant something to me:

1. Trust the chaos. Writing can be an emotionally wrenching experience. Sometimes you just don't know which way is up in a story. That's ok.

2. This is your time. She said we can change alot about our selves. We can change where we live, what we look like (including our gender), but there is one thing we can't change: the time we were born. This is the hand we were dealt. We can not change the time we're living in.

This resonated with me, because I do think I was born in a rich, textured time (1968) and currently live in interesting (not necessarily the best) times. My time on earth is what I get to leave behind for others to read.

I'd been writing about the 1980's alot...great! It reinforced that I'm writing about what I need to be writing about.


Cheryl said...

I think about the time I live in a lot. I'm so grateful to exist at a time (and place) when LGBT folks are (almost!) considered equal. Sometimes I'm bummed out I missed the small LGBT/POC publishing boom of the '90s. Sometimes I wish everyone still rode horses. Except for firefighters--I want them to be fast. So you win some, you lose some. :-)

James Sie said...

How I wish I could have been there! I was also introduced to Jeannette Winterson's writing via "The Passion" and loved it. I'll get her memoir—thanks for the recommendation!