|Photo by Gabe Travis|
Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, doesn’t have an MFA. She’ll be the first to tell you that the writing group she’s belonged to for twenty years has proven more valuable than any MFA.
|Photo by David Shankbone|
When Byl heads into the woods to do trail dog work, backpack fully loaded, she also carries ATTITUDE and EXPECTATIONS.
Expectations: Fix it; bust ass; do it fast; know it all; or learn it quick.
When revising, Egan advises: “If anything can be cut, it should be cut. The point of good literature is to accomplish everything it needs to accomplish in the least amount of time and space.”
Same with any tool Byl carries into the woods. It damn well better have a use. "And don't mistake a digging bar for a rock bar," Byl warns.
Egan's writing community is one of her most valuable tools, and sometimes she brings "stuff" to them early on because she just wants to know, "Is it ALIVE?"
|Photo by Skip Martin|
In Alaska, Christine has learned to love hard work and hard living.
"Autumn in Denali beguiles me every year, when the world on fire reinvents shade, palette, tone... Reddened willows, lichen's green glow... I am an existentialist at heart and I love fall in part for its contemplative underpinnings, the way it makes me notice the concrete world (everything's dying) and think about the abstract one (everything dies)."
|Photo by Christine Byl|
That last bit of prose gives you a taste of the gritty, honest beauty of Byl's writing, and her world. "Is it alive?" Egan asks of her writing. "Am I alive?" I imagine Byl asks of herself. What purpose brings me here, to this moment, to this place, to this life?
NOTE: If you're going to AWP in Seattle this winter, don't miss Christine's panels on Friday.