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Much Better Than Setting Fires: Chuck Palahniuk at "The Muse and the Marketplace"

Grub Street is an independent not-for-profit writing center in Boston that runs writing classes as well as an annual literary conference, The Muse and the Marketplace. At the most recent Muse, Chuck Palahniuk was the keynote speaker, and even if you missed the conference, you can watch his speech below. Palahniuk tells the story of a very bad night in Paris on book tour and offers some possible metaphors for writing, as well as advice on eating cheese in France (!):

Chuck Palahniuk from Grub Street on Vimeo.

rosie_annYou can also listen to last year’s keynote address (in MP3 format) by Ann Patchett, acclaimed author of the novels Run, Bel Canto, The Magician’s Assistant, Taft, and The Patron Saint of Liars. In her speech she demystifies the writing process, focusing on the importance of discipline, what it takes to finish work, and why writer’s block is nonsense. She begins her frank and funny talk with these lines: “The muse is bullshit. I can not say it enough. Let it go. Forget about it. It’s not happening. This is a job.”

Midway through her speech, Patchett refers to the the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lecture by dear friend and fellow writer Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed, who approaches the creative process from the exact opposition position. In this talk, Gilbert examines the role of creativity and inspiration in a writer’s work. In particular, how our understanding of “genius” has shifted post-renaissance from being a separate entity that visited artists and influenced their work to actually residing within artists. In short, from “having genius” to “being a genius.”

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