I haven’t written in a while, and not just here. I haven’t written a new line of fiction (or non-fiction) since January. I’ve been silent all winter – not because of the cold, or snowstorms, or trees broken in hurricanes. My silence bordered on being mute. I sent off my novel to an agent in December and… forgot about writing.
I was fed up and tired. I felt that whatever stories I had inside of me were buried under the mundane, that which you can neither recall nor appreciate later, as it blends into the white noise – work deadlines, kids’ deadlines, me being dead tired. Until… Until one day in April a friend sent an alert that a group of brilliant young writers were to read downtown. Something told me that I MUST go. I called the husband and asked him to have the evening with the kids so that I could have the evening with literature. He understood, as always.
As a writer, I should be able to express what I felt when I first heard Ilya Kaminsky read, and then Simon Van Booy, but I’m still lost for words. I sat in the front row at the Housing Works Bookstore, listening to the finalists of the Vilcek Prize for Literature read their best works, my face under the microphone, as I leaned forward, swimming in the words that flowed into me. If Kaminsky had read one more poem from “Dancing in Odessa”, I’d have been in tears. But he stopped on time, and I don’t know what was louder – my clapping or my sighing.
And then it was Simon Van Booy’s turn. I could almost touch the podium. He read the first short story from his prized collection “Love Begins In Winter”. He took me somewhere where I haven’t been in so long, yet yearned to be so badly. I felt as if I were 15 again, sitting on a windowsill of my St. Petersburg apartment, breathing in the summer rain, the drops sliding off my palm, in love with the idea of someone who’d kiss me in the rain.
We were introduced. Simon signed the book for me. I told him about my Salons. And then I started reading his short story collections. First, “The Secret Lives of People in Love”, then “Love Begins in Winter.” His characters were from my world. I had a strange feeling that I could have been one. After simmering in this thought, I sorted it: his voice was familiar – similar to mine when I wrote in Russian. Did you guess? I started writing again; this time – short stories (in English, of course). And a couple of people told me that they loved them.
Could it be that I found my voice thanks to Simon?
I want to make it official: Simon Van Booy’s writing is an inspiration.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because he’ll be reading at my Short Stories Salon in June.
And so will I.
Because I resumed writing in spring, after reading his “Love Begins in Winter”. His first novel, “Everything Beautiful Began After” will be published July 5, 2011