Jess Walter, author of Citizen Vince among other novels, spoke at the Write on the River keynote. He made us laugh and cry and think and consider our own definitions of success. And he encouraged to set our own standard and to live up to it, ignoring the world's version of "making it." Uppington has a great post on his thoughts and tips for writers here.
I looked Citizen Vince up on Google, intending to only read the first several pages. It sucked me right in, the voice gritty and hoarse from too many cigarettes but tinged with freshness, like this layer of oblivious innocence had sorta settled over the top of it.
And I read about "solitary figures beneath thought bubbles of warm breath and cigarette smoke" on page 6, and then "Vince looks up to the bar, where Beth is staring at him; she gives him a half smile, then looks to the ceiling, as if she's just let go of a nice thought and is watching it float away like a kid's balloon" on page 11 and I'm thinking, Wow. that is beautiful. simple. and beautiful.
And then I'm reminded of something he said on Saturday that was equal parts simple and beautiful, profound and quirky. He said, "I tend to like the last sentence I just wrote."
And it clicked for me. You have to love this vocation, but you also have to pour yourself into it, scratch out the imagery and carve out the sensory impressions and sift through thoughts for the perfect word or phrase or syllable. There's more to writing than simply telling a good story. There's a way of writing, a style, a slant that is completely your own, chock full of literary goodness, that must be written. We have to remain true to what sounds right. And smells right. And feels right. Maybe Patrick's right: maybe we call it Litstream.