From Queens Writers

Queens Writers Fellowship News

In late summer, I spread the word that the Queens Writers Fellowship–aka office space in my house–was opening up, and I needed a steady partner to come slave away next to me all fall while I finished a draft of my book.

Part of the treat of offering up the QWF is seeing who turns up. Every time I announce it, I get emails and tweets of support from all over. One of them was from Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey (my rave here), whom I met by buying four copies of her book and not seeming too crazy-stalker-ish in the process.

Manhattan-dwelling Annia is not, strictly speaking, a Queens writer. She did, however, write to me that she “needs more Queens in her life.” And that certainly is a bonus of coming to my joint to work: heart of Astoria, baby, with all its taco joints, halal meat and Maltese treats.

Conscientious Annia was concerned about nepotism in her application for the fellowship. I assured her that nepotism just made the whole thing Queens-ier. It also helped that her schedule was wide open, and she had two book ideas she wanted to kick-start.

So, after I got back from Morocco, and after I got my wisdom teeth out, and after Hurricane Sandy, and after the election… We finally got to work. (Hot Page Six item: Annia writes longhand!)

It has been a great stretch of writing (which is why blog updating has been spotty). Next week, Annia’s taking off to teach a class in Abu Dhabi.

I’m slogging on here. Which means: the fellowship is open again starting the week of January 7!

Please drop me an email by January 2 if you want to get some writing done. The extra desk could be yours, along with coffee, possibly a hot lunch and general camaraderie. Tell me what your schedule is like, and what you’re working on.

Queens residency preferred, but not required; no bribes necessary.

Queens Writers News

Just a quick note to say hello/temporary good-bye to Jeff Orlick, the man, the myth, the legend. You might know him from the various Queens food events he organizes–Roosevelt Ave street-food crawls, five-borough pizza tours and the phenomenal Flushing Mall Grazing Experience a few months back.

(The FluMaGraExp was the realization of mine and Peter’s dream of the “golden chopsticks”–a surcharge you pay in a restaurant that allows you to taste everyone else’s food. Here’s Jeff’s report on it.)

Anyway, Jeff was over here working a bit, and even got into a bit of a nice 10am-ish-to-3pm-ish groove. He was busting out brand-new ideas all the time while he was here. And then I realized I’d neglected to tell him I was taking off for Morocco, and that he couldn’t come over anymore for a while. Sorry, Jeff! But we’ll get back to it.

But he did say of the co-working plan, “I’m a total convert. The instant you went downstairs, I started going on Facebook.” See! See! Together, folks, we can get sh*t done! And thanks to Jeff, I managed to focus enough to get my book proposal wrapped up before leaving. (More details later. I hope…)

So, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, and I hope we can get back in the work groove. As ever, drop me a note if you’re interested in working over here–see the general info page for more.

Queens Writers News

Sniff. The lovely Heather Hughes, the first Queens Writers Fellow, has left us, gone on to graduate from her yoga program and is now conquering things left and right and having champers poured for her. No one deserves a drink more than she.

She had this to say after she left the upstairs desk:

When I entered the Conquering Lion Yoga teacher training program, I was prepared for the physical intensity that awaited. What I was less prepared for was the number of written assignments. There were monthly assignments, weekly assignments, and, yes, daily ones. I had a background in writing: MFA in creative writing, stints as a copywriter for an infamous men’s “fashion” catalog (ruffled poet’s shirts and underwear with built-in cock rings were just two of the best-selling items, although probably not due to my prose) and as an editor at a magazine about books. But I had gradually fallen out of the actual practice of writing.

Left to my own devices, in my own apartment, I wasted a lot of time gazing out the window or finding new ways to rearrange my bookshelves (grouped by author and then alphabetized by title? grouped by author and then by publication date?). Your fellowship arrived at the perfect time and helped get me on track and actually writing.

I’m indebted to you and Peter for all the generosity and hospitality (and food—I’d definitely be remiss if I didn’t mention the crack ham, the sourdough bread, the giant deep-fried grasshoppers…) you’ve provided me, not just over the past few months but over the past few years. The world is considerably richer for having you two in it.

Gah! Right back at ya, Heather!

Since she left, we’ve managed to dry our tears a little, and although we haven’t had a full-time steady person here, we have had a couple good visitors. The exemplary Kate Payne spent a couple of days here recharging mid-book-tour. (Check out her totally inspiring Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking — more details in a bit.) She didn’t wind up doing much writing, but she did intern with Peter on knot-tying (not what you think, people!), and to prep for her book event in Philly, she made some pretty cool chore wheels. (I’m proud to say she used our 7-inch of the “Dukes of Hazzard” theme song as a template. I mean, how else do you draw a perfect circle if you don’t have records lying around?)

Sara Markel-Gonzalez has popped over a couple of times as well. Sara’s a regular contributor to Serious Eats, and she’s finishing up a program at NYU. And she’s currently working under a serious deadline, which is not actually the end of the school year: It’s that she’s pregnant and due to give birth…oh, this week. So I don’t expect I’ll be seeing her again for another few months, but I’m glad we got to meet. And she did come over and totally buckle down to work. She is a model for us all!

Going forward, I’ve got a few more weeks here (till May 21) until I hit the road to Morocco. Any and all Queens-y writer-y types welcome to come over and work whenever I’m home. Drop me a note!