Sunday, October 9, 2011


This weekend caps off a big Pacific Northwest event called Wordstock (get it?). It’s a great amalgam of writers, readers, publishers, and vendors. I thought it would a fun Saturday adventure for me and my good friend Sue. It was but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t lament the fact that my desire to be a writer is tempered by the fact that every semi-insane badly dressed unemployed freak thinks the same thing. Apparently, almost anyone who has ever combined a verb and a noun thinks they can write. And this festival encourages them.

Who am I kidding? As evidenced by the fact that I dragged my fashion posts out for two weeks I’m in some kind of elemental battle between my intellect and my superficial girly side. I worked in fashion (buyer, sales exec) for 10 years then chucked it all to follow another passion—books, learning, reading—and became a librarian. Now, as that career has ground to a painful stop, I’m exploring my lifelong passion for writing. In case, you’re missing the point: librarians and writers SO DO NOT know how to dress.

These are the kind of writers I want to hang out with:

Candace Bushnell and Naomi Wolf

Muriel Barbery and Jennifer Egan (love love their work)

Not these:

did not want to ask for names

You know what- given my previous post on Steve Jobs- I think this chick is cool because she is flying her freak flag and damn proud of it. Plus, she wrote a book and published it w/ her partner (weird unicorn dude in the background).

There is one other correlation between librarians and writers. No one wants to pay them. In the last week I’ve gotten positive responses to write book reviews (something has got to come out of reading ten books a month) from three different organizations, none of which will pay a penny. Yes, I want the experience but at some point if it won’t pay, it’s a hobby. Maybe that’s what I need to accept.

My personal issues aside Wordstock was a fun mix of every genre from children’s board books to scifi to graphic novels. It is not a small regional show as it attracts important authors and holds workshops with these authors and the unwashed masses of aspiring writers.

Although my pictures aren’t great I got to hear Julia Glass, whose work I love (The Whole World Over and Three Junes) speaking with Diana Abu-Jabar, who I haven’t read but will now look into. Julia talked about her childhood and how in her family the division between storytellers and those who do the cleaning up after dinner made her decide to become a storyteller.

Michael Ondaatje was interviewed by Andrew Proctor (Executive Director of Literary Arts) and did a reading from his newest work, The Cat’s Table.

I'm exaggerating (so unusual for me) when I said that ALL librarians are without style. During a session (which I’ll write more about later) I looked down and noticed Sue’s shoes and almost created a scene when I shrieked and said, “I love those- where did you get them?” See, these writer people simply do not get the importance of dressing well and shushed me. Anyway, here are Sue’s adorable and comfortable shoes which she bought to take to Italy. She has yet to divulge where she got them but I’ll get it out of her.


Abby said...

It's not just writers and librarians, as no one wants to pay anyone to do anything these days. However, hell to the yes on the unpaid writer thing. Sigh...

Anyway, you get freaks and bores with any profession and many "creatives" are hard to stomach. The cool thing is when you do meet the good ones and can exchange inspiring dialogue. All in all, it sounds like it was fun.

As my grandma would say, "Better than a kick in the head."

Grace said...

Interesting that I came to your site while surfing and coming upon The Lady Blogger's Society. I'm a fellow Oregonian, south of you in Albany. My cyber-friend Ricki Grady was attending Wordstock this weekend too. She just published a gardening book. Sounds like you had a good time.

tweedlibrarian said...

Ha! You haven't been in the Pacific Northwest long enough to get used to its "style." Fleecy, comfy, sloppy. It just doesn't flatter anyone.

The guy with the lizard was too funny! I'm sure it's his companion animal. Really,Portland doesn't need to get any weirder.

My green sneakers are from Nordstrom Rack - they're from Puma. Glad you liked them. They were my "don't want to look like an American" shoes in Italy.

Catherine said...

Sue- I figued the ywere Pumas but if you got them at the Rack they're long gone. Sigh.

Hi, Grace! So nice to 'meet' another Oregonian. How exciting that your friend is being published! Thanks for visiting and I'm heading over to check out your blog.

Classic NYer said...

Nobody wants to pay artists and musicians either... which is another group of badly dressed freakazoids. And what's strange about musicians at least is that usually, the worse dressed the musician, the better the music is. It's so disturbing...

(I'm a musician myself so I can talk about us like this, haha)

Stopping in from the LBS tea party.

Britta said...

Dear Catherine,
I smiled at your description of librarians, writers and fashion.
When I went to the Frankfurter Buchmesse a few years ago, afterwards I told my husband: had I seen the people who write & sell the German books before - I wouldn't have studied Germanists (I studied other topics too, that saved me :-) They looked so drab! Beard, pullover, cord-jeans... But nowadays, as your photographs show, a lot of writers look really great (some so much that sometimes I suspected a "Double" - but no: even in sports like shot put they look miles better than decades before.

Catherine said...

ClassicNYer- The inverse proportion theory was not in play at this event. I'm not sure personal hygiene was even in play.

Britta- I just wish some of the well dressed ones (or even creatively dressed) had been at this event. Slovenly was my most used adjective.

Style Maniac said...

Here's the wonderful thing about a blog: You can be smart AND stylish, you can write about deep subjects AND pretty fashions. Why not? It's all part of life. I mix those topics up on my site, and I enjoy the mix of those topics here on your blog. Write what you love, it's so much more fun that way.

Another wonderful thing: if you publish a post on a blog you are now a published writer. Yay!

As for getting paid -- I agree with the other commenters: that challenge extends, unfortunately, to all creative fields. Why is it in our society that we pay millions for big guys to smash each other on a gridiron but people who produce beauty and provoke thought get pennies? Makes no sense to me. But despite the difference in compensation, I wouldn't trade being the former for the latter, ever.

therhythmmethod said...

You crack me up. I think the writers/librarians that know how to dress are the ones that get published ... ? Because they are smart AND stylish? There's hope for you yet ;)
I've been pitching stories this week and I feel like a tigress. I'll probably be feeling like a 3 legged tabby cat with mange by this time next week.

Catherine said...

Karen, thank you so much for making me laugh out loud this morning- I really needed it. I'll never see you as anything but a tigress!

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