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Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Ask Elinor Lipman

Please use this thread to ask the author questions about her work - not necessarily just pertaining to this novel, either.  (She has written 10 you know!) 
Stephanie
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ElinorLipman
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Correct: 10 books, and besides that one child (now grown, a great son), many many sweaters (knitter), a 5' x 10' garden consisting of 12 heirloom tomato plants (which were a gift from a writer, Salvatore Scibona, as a thank-you because I was a judge for the '08 Natonal Book Awards and he was a finalist for his first novel, THE END.  He sent the seedlings via U.S. Mail, and all survived); a row of arugula, and 106 pps. of a work in progress.  TMI? 
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Stephanie
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Elinor,

 

Will you please tell us a little about your work habits?  I love to get a visual on how my favorite authors do their writing and what their work space is like.

 

Thanks!  

Stephanie
Author
ElinorLipman
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman


Stephanie wrote:

Elinor,

 

Will you please tell us a little about your work habits?  I love to get a visual on how my favorite authors do their writing and what their work space is like.

 

Thanks!  


I always write at my iMac, occasionally in a notebook if I'm away from home.   I'm up early and usually have my daily quote (500 words, minimum) done by lunch.  If the 500 words come easily, I try to do more.  My office is a spare bedroom on the second floor of my house, littered with papers,  files, clippings, photos, and a bulletin board over my desk that doesn't have a free inch.  In fact, I'm looking at its contents now and wondering why I have notices and photos there going back 15 years.  Time to clean.  Book shelves along one wall and a day bed, where I often read and proofread. Most things framed on the walls in my study are work-related, including a British movie poster of THEN SHE FOUND ME.  

Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

[ Edited ]

ElinorLipman wrote:
Correct: 10 books, and besides that one child (now grown, a great son), many many sweaters (knitter), a 5' x 10' garden consisting of 12 heirloom tomato plants (which were a gift from a writer, Salvatore Scibona, as a thank-you because I was a judge for the '08 Natonal Book Awards and he was a finalist for his first novel, THE END.  He sent the seedlings via U.S. Mail, and all survived); a row of arugula, and 106 pps. of a work in progress.  TMI? 

 

Hi, Elinor....Not TMI...I enjoy hearing about what goes into the life of a writer....their workspace, their loves; the time it takes out of their lives to write, and what is totally involved in writing, etc. 

 

Recently, I asked [on one of these new blogs on B&N], what defines a writer.  I'm still struggling with that.  I write, daily, but what is produced, who knows what it's called.  I can't define myself as a writer.  Is it being published?  Is it being known?  Do hours, workplace, confinement, discipline, education, define it?  Is it just for the shear joy of it....?  I've been called a writer by friends who know me well, but I don't see myself as one.  In this area, I don't hold a candle to this multi-layered form of art. 

 

My love lies, in my visual art....I look at writing as one more aspect of it.  One more segment, the offspring, sort of speak, where writing becomes another form of art.  Maybe, just maybe, I hate being labeled as something specific, as a writer.  Or maybe, when called one, I feel obligated to fulfill someone else's desires in me.  Gads, it's heavy introspection.  Oops, my insecruities are showing.

 

Don't feel obligated to address any of this.

 

K.

Message Edited by KathyS on 06-10-2009 09:01 PM
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KathyS
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Elinor, what's it like being a judge for the National Book Awards?  I mean, besides the obvious of having to read a bazillion books? Can you tell us, or would you have to make us cement boots and drop us into the Hudson, after divulging top secret info?

 

Twelve heirloom tomato plants!  Wow!  Now that's a bunch of tomatoes!  What do you plan to do with them, once they start producing?  Do you can, or given them away to the neighbors?  I'm not familiar with Salvatore Scibona.  Is there a connection between him and tomatoes? :smileyhappy:

 

Okay, last but not least.....any hint, or thoughts about your next "work in progress"?

 

Kathy


ElinorLipman wrote:
Correct: 10 books, and besides that one child (now grown, a great son), many many sweaters (knitter), a 5' x 10' garden consisting of 12 heirloom tomato plants (which were a gift from a writer, Salvatore Scibona, as a thank-you because I was a judge for the '08 Natonal Book Awards and he was a finalist for his first novel, THE END.  He sent the seedlings via U.S. Mail, and all survived); a row of arugula, and 106 pps. of a work in progress.  TMI? 


 

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mairwill
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Elinor--

 

It is good to have another Elinor Lipman novel to enjoy and hope you are doing well.

 

I was one of those people way back when that was on a B&N book discussion with you years ago back when it was Barnes and Noble University and now I can't even remember what book it was--Alice Thrift maybe.  I think I've been on the rest of the discussions with you here.

 

I think my 3 favorites of your books are The Pursuit of Alice Thrift (I laughed out loud), The Inn at Lake Devine (not being from the Northeast I just really didn't know about all the resorts and the anti-Semitism that went on), and The Last Grievance (it's so nice when the good guys win). 

 

Do you have a favorite of your books or ones that have a special place in your heart?

 

Later--

 

Mair

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ElinorLipman
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

You asked what it's like to be a judge for the National Book Awards, and the first adjective that comes to mind is "heart-breaking."  Most people think the hard part is all the work involved (we on the fiction panel had over 200 books to read) but the painful part was falling completely in love with a work and thinking you were holding a sure finalist in your hand, only to find that your fellow judges didn't agree.  Not to say that I didn't endorse our finalists, but there were plenty more I wanted to salute as honorable mention.  I haven't been as discreet about it as we're supposed to be:  I wrote about the experience; actually--my advice on how to take the bias out of the judging.  It was titled, "The Winner is...Anonymous." 

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6650788.html&

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ElinorLipman
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Mair--Of course I remember you, all credit to your screen name and to your faithful posting. I'm pretty sure most authors are fondest of their newest work. Perhaps it's the fact that I'm hearing it's people's favorite, which makes me want to jump on that bandwagon. And of course we always hope we're getting better with each new book. This one stands out for me because it's the first set outside of New England, and I've been quoted as saying it's a valentine to New York. And I can confess that I hope readers would agree with this lovely sentiment that ran in the ARIZONA STAR (a red state!): "Lipman has created engaging characters and, at a time when the country is debating same-sex marriage, gives us in Henry a gay father so loving, nurturing and kind that any child would be fortunate to have him."

Yours, immodestly,

Elinor

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KathyS
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

[ Edited ]

ElinorLipman wrote:

You asked what it's like to be a judge for the National Book Awards, and the first adjective that comes to mind is "heart-breaking."  Most people think the hard part is all the work involved (we on the fiction panel had over 200 books to read) but the painful part was falling completely in love with a work and thinking you were holding a sure finalist in your hand, only to find that your fellow judges didn't agree.  Not to say that I didn't endorse our finalists, but there were plenty more I wanted to salute as honorable mention.  I haven't been as discreet about it as we're supposed to be:  I wrote about the experience; actually--my advice on how to take the bias out of the judging.  It was titled, "The Winner is...Anonymous." 

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6650788.html&


 

Elinor, thank you for this, ah..candid report....I couldn't find your article from your link, but did find it through this one.  I had assumed the judging was like you stated in your article, it should be....but what do I know?  Your way seems very fair for everyone.  I hope they heed your advice.  Now that your word is OUT on B&NBC....no secrets here! :smileyhappy: 

 

I can't even imagine really loving someone's story/writing, and not being able to convince other judges of that worth.  Just goes to show you how many different likes/dislikes/tastes, or whatever, goes into the evaluation of someone's writing.  Plus the biases that are thrown into the mix!

 

Think they'll ask you back as a judge, again?  I hope so!

 

Kathy

Message Edited by KathyS on 06-15-2009 10:08 AM
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Re: differences in taste: I found it astonishing. Some judges loved writing that I couldn't abide, and surely vice versa.

I suppose it's not out of the question I could be asked back to judge the National Book Awards, but I'd probably politely decline. I must say, though, all credit to the head of the NBA Foundation, who couldn't have been nicer about my rather critical essay. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6650788.html&

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KathyS
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6650788.html?industryid=48383

 

Sorry, this is the only link I could get your article to appear to me. I'll post it in its entire form.  I put it in my last post, but as a link contrived from this text box funtion.

 

Do you think, tho polite, they (the head of NBA) understand what you've said about the whole venue of selection, and might consider it?  It irritates me to no end when I know I'm right about something....seeing the outcomes, time after time, and seeing that no change is seen, or deemed as necessary by people who write the outlines.

 

You said that you couldn't abide writing that was loved by some other judges.  Without naming names, of course, but sticking to the critical  look at writing, what type of writing can't you abide?  What do you look for, both pro and con, when viewing someone's writing?

 

I definately know what I look for when reading an author.  Someone on these boards mentioned Dan Brown, and that he wasn't a great writer....I couldn't resist responding to him.  I said there are very few great writers (and that can be very subjective), but if a writer can captivate you with their words, where you can't put the book down, there has to be something of value. 

 

There are writers I have to put down, not because of lack of interest in their stories, but for the fact that I am so drawn to their words, their phrasing....it pulses...it stamps out a beat that sucks me in... it takes me to places that are intensely emotional,  so emotional I find it hard to recover.  I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it's true.

 

Kathy


ElinorLipman wrote:

Re: differences in taste: I found it astonishing. Some judges loved writing that I couldn't abide, and surely vice versa.

I suppose it's not out of the question I could be asked back to judge the National Book Awards, but I'd probably politely decline. I must say, though, all credit to the head of the NBA Foundation, who couldn't have been nicer about my rather critical essay. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6650788.html&


 

 
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Stephanie
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Elinor,

 

What I can't imagine is someone agreeing to do the job of judging, and then not bothering to read a book because the author looked rich!  I am guessing this person does not put his/her best foot forward... some who look rich are just trying to look their best.

 

 

Stephanie
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ElinorLipman
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Registered: ‎05-30-2009
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

During the judges' conference calls, I repeatedly said, "I want to feel as if this isn't a book I'm reading but a life I'm living."  This criterion tends to rule out self-conscious and prettified writing, description for the sake of description (not another chapter that opens with a description of the sky turning purple and the clouds looking ominous--what an editor of mine's 11-year-old son once called "too much wind in the trees.") One example of writing I loved and fought for that didn't make National Book Award finalist but--hel-lo!--won the Pulitzer 5 months later--was OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout.  I want to lose myself in a story and believe in it.  I like clean, well-paced writing, and all the better if it's witty. 
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KathyS
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman


ElinorLipman wrote:
During the judges' conference calls, I repeatedly said, "I want to feel as if this isn't a book I'm reading but a life I'm living."  This criterion tends to rule out self-conscious and prettified writing, description for the sake of description (not another chapter that opens with a description of the sky turning purple and the clouds looking ominous--what an editor of mine's 11-year-old son once called "too much wind in the trees." ) One example of writing I loved and fought for that didn't make National Book Award finalist but--hel-lo!--won the Pulitzer 5 months later--was OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout.  I want to lose myself in a story and believe in it.  I like clean, well-paced writing, and all the better if it's witty. 

Thank you, Elinor.   I like what you said during your conferences.  I find it interesting to know what my favorite writers like to read.   I like your criterion.  I'll put Olive Kitteridge  on my list of books to read.

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Stephanie
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Elinor,

 

Not sure about you, but I'm just petty enough to LOVE that a book you wanted but didn't get won a Pulitzer!  That is the true definition of justice.

 

I know exactly what you mean about being in the story, too- that's what I loved about Irene Hunt's Up a Road Slowly when I was a kid.  Trying to get my 10 y/o daughter into it, but it's pretty old-fashioned for her taste. 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie
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ElinorLipman
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Registered: ‎05-30-2009
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman


Stephanie wrote:

Elinor,

 

Not sure about you, but I'm just petty enough to LOVE that a book you wanted but didn't get won a Pulitzer!  That is the true definition of justice.

 

I know exactly what you mean about being in the story, too- that's what I loved about Irene Hunt's Up a Road Slowly when I was a kid.  Trying to get my 10 y/o daughter into it, but it's pretty old-fashioned for her taste. 

 

 

 

 


Oh, you can be sure I was thrilled with that choice, and yes, feeling a little told-you-so-ish, but then again, there were plenty of titles honored later (in  lists of best books of the year) that I hadn't supported in our discussions. (No, not telling.)  One of my fellow National Book Award judges did send me a tip of the hat when Strout won the Pulitzer.    

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Stephanie
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

Elinor,

 

I'd love to know what magazines and other publications you read- and, are you a news junkie?   

Stephanie
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mairwill
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

All--

 

I've been to Chicago, but am back.  Had a great time. 

 

OK, Steph and Kathy--I loved Olive Kitteridge and I'm not usually a fan of stories, but these were tied together rather than a collection of unrelated short stories.  We read it in my book club (my suggestion, of course!), and one other lady really liked it, but the others didn't finish it for time and inclination reasons (there are only 6 of us).  There were parts of it that were heartbreaking, but it was real life and reminded me of The Five People You Meet in Heaven simply because we don't know what effect we have on people's lives.  Read about Olive, Ladies, and it's in paperback.

 

I'm flattered that you remember me, Elinor. I'm blushing!  LOL. 

 

I can't imagine judging the National Book Awards.  Glad publishers don't just publish what would necessarily be best sellers (Patterson, King, etc.) or I'd have to quit reading.  I like to read books on lists, but sometimes can't get through them (The Correction).

 

Later--

 

Mair

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ElinorLipman
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Re: Ask Elinor Lipman

I am indeed a news junkie, especially anything presidential.  As for newspapers and magazines:   I get the New York Times delivered along with my local newspaper, and I subscribe to Gourmet, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, the New Yorker, More, Poets & Writers, and (in exchange for Delta air miles that were expiring) Variety.