Update from Fahrenheit 101by David Duhr • 08.06.2009
Fringe blog followers may remember a post I wrote last month about the lack of non-corporate bookstores in my new Florida environs, an area I labeled Fahrenheit 101 (running the risk of having Ray Bradbury call me a “screwed asshole,” as he did Michael Moore when the corpulent latter released “Fahrenheit 9/11”). Readers suggested that I spend more time writing, open a bookstore of my own, or even pack up again and move to a more happening place. All good ideas—but I’m taking none of that advice and doing none of those things.
Instead, I’m co-founding a writing workshop in Fahrenheit 101.
Brainchild of Fringe friend and Duhr girlfriend Justine Tal Goldberg, the [Working Title] Writer’s Workshop is … well, so far it’s just a helluva lot of work. We find ourselves talking to financial advisors about Florida tax laws, talking to Chambers of Commerce about occupational licenses and zoning, local rags about ad rates, local bookstores (yes, we expanded our search area and found one or two in the county. Two, to be precise) about cross-promotion. It’s all very adult. We hold weekly meetings on our back porch where we discuss syllabi, reading lists and seminars, and we’re even thinking of joining a local Young Professionals group for purposes of networking, which I’ve learned is a verb meaning “To pretend to give a shit about people who are pretending to give a shit about you.” I’ve never been a professional anything. I’ve dipped and dabbled, put a toe in the water now and again, been an amateur dozens of times. But a professional?
“Professor Duhr”? Has a nice ring to it.
Professors Duhr and Goldberg are planning the following—a twenty-hour course meeting once a week for eight weeks (my vote to hold just one marathon all-day session having been vetoed by Professor Goldberg, who, after a stunning and totally unexpected power grab, came away with 50.1% of the final say-so). We’ll start each session with a prayer (just kidding), launch into the Pledge of Allegiance (come on), discuss a story from a published contemporary writer, workshop new writing from two of our students, have a group hug and tickle fight, then part ways until the following week.
I referred to this area in my prior post as a “literary wasteland,” but I’ve discovered that this isn’t totally accurate. It could use some rain, maybe, but remember that Vegas was once a desert, too. I guess Vegas is still a desert, but in how many deserts will you see a Dolly Parton impersonator walking the streets at four in the morning? (Christ, I hope only one). Point is, even in a desert some life can thrive. We’ve spoken with a few local writers (special thanks to Mario Mozzillo and Les Standiford), a couple book clubs and some neighborhood schools, and the opinion is that a service such as ours is sorely needed in … dare I say it? Will a lynch mob show at my door? … Palm City, Stuart, and the rest of Martin County, Florida.
Which brings me to the part where I solicit the advice of you loyal Fringe readers. We need a name. We need a name that will make closeted writers stand up and take notice. A name that oozes experience, but won’t frighten away the layperson. We need a name that looks good on a business card, a name that pleases the ear, a name that rolls off the tongue.
We’ve been toying with a few obscure literary terms, words like shibboleth, wanderjahr, terminus a quo … but if those don’t scare away the lay, nothing will. Tabula Rasa? Composite Monster? WriteByNight? Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (just for the hell of it)? We are wide open to suggestion—but remember to appeal more to Professor Goldberg, she of the 50.1% share.
We can’t start a workshop until we have named that workshop. Help us name our workshop. Some cool Fringe swag goes to any reader whose suggestion we take.
The question remains: in an economy such as the one we’re all trudging through (a month after my last post, and I still don’t have that 9-5. And no, B&N was not hiring), will aspiring writers shell out precious cash to take a course that some might consider frivolous? We think so. We hope so. And not solely for our own benefit—we’re just hoping to cover costs—but also for the benefit of this county’s more timid voices. The businesswoman who keeps her stories locked in the bottom drawer of her oak desk; the widower who pens tales of his late wife and then tears them to shreds before the kids can see; the housewife who hides her journal on the top shelf of the linen closet.
If the written word is nothing but frivolity, then most of my adult life has been a complete waste of time.
Starting a business is exciting and nauseating. Starting a business during the worst economy in decades is insanity. But someone’s gotta do it. We’re not trailblazers—we’re just two people who believe in the written word, and believe that closet practitioners of it should have the chance to be heard.
Sounds kinda Fringy, doesn’t it? I think I’ll write a manifesto.