This February, the one year anniversary of 826LA’s Book Club, we read Stephen Elliott’s The Adderall Diaries and Stephen Elliott joined us for the book club meeting. The book club meeting started at 7:30 p.m. and he arrived at 8:30 p.m.
When he arrived, people were still discussing his memoir and he sat down and did not announce he was the writer. Some people knew he was the writer and some people thought he was another book club member that arrived an hour late. In Elliott’s Daily Rumpus he wrote “I walked in while they were still discussing the book. It was thrilling. They were questioning the reliability of the narrator.”
I don’t remember what we were talking about. I just remember he was there and I thought that we should start asking him questions.
A book club member wondered why Elliott titled the memoir The Adderall Diaries and I asked, Well let’s ask Stephen.
He answered that the book began as a Word document and he had titled the Word document The Adderall Diaries. He said this was before he knew it was book. He answered questions and talked. He took notes in his black moleskine notebook and ate some cookies that a 826LA volunteer baked. “These are good,” he said, he sounded surprised.
Later a book club member (a friend who recently graduated from a MFA program) told me that Elliott made him want to write more. I had a similar experience.
* * *
There are four things I plan to do very soon.
1. Buy a small notebook.
-Keep it w.me at all times, if not most times.
2. Start a text edit document. Title it. Add to it. Write in it.
3. Keep my tape recorder with me most of the time.
4. Bring my camera to function as a visual notebook
* * *
In other news I’ve started reading “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and in the beginning the narrator writes, “So I draw because I want to walk to the world. And I want the world to pay attention to me.”
In Stephen Elliott’s “Why I Write” (a title from Joan Didion, who as she says “stole” it from George Orwell) he states, “I still write to communicate, which as I get older is less about screaming and more about connecting (though it’s about screaming, too).”
In Joan Didion’s “Why I Write” she states, In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act.”
I’m drawing connections without making conclusions.
I do recommend reading all three essays titled “Why I Write.” Orwell’s, Didion’s and Elliott’s. I’m half way through “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and it’s amazing. I want to read so much more of Sherman Alexie
I’m also at a cafe that is about to close. More later.