FROM NOW ON 12 - gone fishing

by Susan Weber

There’s no one way to give an author talk. Matthew Quick, whose every novel in a long list has been or will be made into a movie (Silver Linings Playbook, for starters), gives his readers wall-to-wall stories. Not spoiler stories, ruining the new book he’s touting. His storytelling starts with true confessions, brims with wise cracks, and echoes with good advice.

Picture this bald, prone to smile forty-three-year-old planting one hand in a jeans pocket and roaming the stage with a cordless mic in the other. The lights make him squint as he explains it’s the first tour he’s managed to do while drug and alcohol free. “So far,” he says, grinning. He’s learning to handle depression and social anxiety by non-toxic means, has lost fifty pounds, and is enjoying this tour more than most. I think the leanness gives him a younger look than in his promo shots. But who has time to gawk as the stories reel out of his mouth like a fishing line? We’re the fish, glad to be connected.

Since I can’t tell a Matthew Quick story with his charm and candor, suffice it to say the men who shaped him as a child and into adulthood are three dimensional human beings to me now. This will make The Reason You’re Alive, based on his uncle’s Vietnam stories, a fascinating read. Who wouldn’t want to entertain more of Uncle Pete’s no nonsense, no hugs, no fanfare approach to life?

As for advice, there's one thing agents and publishers want. To fall in love with an excellent book. Writers need to read, write, stay positive, and sagely define success. If it’s ratings and profits and stardom you’re after you’ll be disappointed soon enough. Don’t measure progress by what you can’t control. Keep your writing reasons clear. If you’re on point with your core values, he says, you’ll be good.

Anybody can tell you stuff like this. But when a bald ace storyteller in a cotton shirt shrugs and says it’s true, you take the bait and, nodding, you believe him.

Photo by Rennett Stowe CC BY 2.0