The Summer Camp Address
LUCY K SHAW
Welcome to summer camp!
Thank you to everybody for travelling here!
And thank you for hosting us!
It’s really great to see you all and to be here.
Probably by now you have all been introduced to each other, if you didn’t already know each other for years prior, but I thought we could try something to help the people who don’t know each other well to get to know each other.
So basically, we’ll go around the group and each person can introduce someone else to us all, by telling us a brief memory or fact about them.
Rachelle introduced Bookin, mentioning that he lives in Buffalo and co-founded Peach Mag.
Bookin introduced Chris, mentioning that he wrote Teen Surf Goth.
Chris introduced Kristen, mentioning that she edits The Bushwick Review.
Kristen introduced Francisca, mentioning that she saw her read at my book launch last year.
Francisca introduced me, mentioning that we met in Lisbon.
I introduced Aidan, mentioning an inside joke from Liz’s wedding.
Aidan introduced Caroline, mentioning the first time that he met her in Northampton.
Caroline introduced Emma, mentioning that they saw Waxahatchee together last year.
Okay nice, so hopefully that covers everyone.
So I was thinking about what I’d like to talk to everyone about, as part of the literary programming for this evening and one thing that I’ve been thinking about sometimes in the past few months is that this year marks ten years since I started the online art and literature magazine, Shabby Doll House, which is the project through which I met basically all of you and perhaps some of you also met each other.
So obviously, that’s very cool, and kind of amazing. When I think about all of the things that I personally, and we collectively have written, published, made, etc, over the past few years, I think, wow nice... Life has been a great success!
But life, if we’re lucky, is very long. And ten years is nothing in the grand history of art and literature. So perhaps we don’t need to make such a big deal out of that.
Though on the other hand, of course we have all known many people throughout these past years who have written things we have admired, been inspired or moved by, and then that person has disappeared from the face of the earth, and, to put it politely, found space in their life for other things, instead of writing, or art, or publishing magazines, or attending summer camps. Which makes total sense. Life is expensive and writing is almost always a waste of money.
Also, I know that many of you have perhaps had the experience of writing and publishing a book, feeling that it is the start of something exciting. A new phase in your life as an artistic person. Only to find the aftermath underwhelming, the reception of the work subdued, the work of pushing it to readers arduous. And even when something is received with heaps of praise, you don’t hear any of it, don’t accept it or take it on board. Forget it quickly. The achievement you’ve been working towards for years was completely meaningless and you feel worse than you ever did before.
Just kidding, it’s not that bad.
But anyway, as we all know, none of that stuff was what compelled you to write a book in the first place.
You wrote because you had to.
Not to be dramatic.
But there’s no way you would find yourself here at this summer camp if you hadn’t felt compelled to share something of your experience on this earth through the medium of language.
You felt that long before you knew any of the people here.
And you will continue to feel it long after the rest of us are all dead…
I want to talk to you tonight about finishing your second books.
And to ask you, in the words of Gwen Stefani, ‘What you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting for?´
Prestige doesn’t matter
Publishing on big presses doesn’t matter.
Publishing on small presses doesn’t even matter.
Honestly, nothing really matters.
So how do we continue?
How do we keep on going?
We will only be able to do it together!
So tonight I would like to ask all of you, how are you feeling creatively at this time in your life? Have you been working on anything in particular? Or thinking about some kind of idea or theme? Are you sitting on a project that nobody knows about? Are you feeling hopeless or disconnected from your work? Are you thriving artistically?
I suppose I’d like to ask everybody to try not to give excuses in their answers, but you know, if you have a good one, feel free to include it.
Let’s go around the circle and share with each other, so we know where we’re all at right now.
Perhaps we can talk to each other about all of this throughout the weekend.
I opened the discussion by describing my next book, WOMAN WITH HAT. I said I didn’t have a big concept for another book yet, but I wanted to write for fun anyway, and I thought that doing so would push me forwards towards new ideas.
And then one by one, each person went around the circle and explained their current situation.
Everybody took it seriously and answered in earnest. Some people were thriving, others feeling lost.
If you’re reading this in the future, maybe take a minute to answer the question for yourself…
To close, I’d like to encourage everybody to publish their second book. Or first book. Or third book.
Or whatever it is you’ve been working on.
Your work may be met with resistance, your work may be ignored, but only by putting it into the world, will you be able to make progress for yourself. And I mean that!
Okay, thank you for listening.
Have a nice weekend.
Lucy K Shaw is the editor of Shabby Doll House.