I'd just like to share my reflections on the reading I went to at the San Diego City College Book fair. I listened to Laurel Corona read her historical novel, Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance. She also gave advice to aspiring writers by sharing her own writing process. Here are my reflections on the experience:
I attended the San Diego City College book fair on Saturday, October 3rd. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay more than an hour, but I was fortunate enough to attend Laurel Corona’s reading from her historical novel, “Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance.” She started out by reading a section on a man named Abba Kovner, a young activist in Lithuania. I realized how she chose the title of her book when she read Kovner’s statement, “We shall fight until our last breath.” From just that quote I could already tell how powerful the novel was in telling the story of the Jewish resistance against Nazis.
The most informative part of the reading for me was Corona’s advice and comments about the writing process and getting published. I had no idea that she wouldn’t only be reading but also telling us about her insight into the world of writing. I learned so much in that hour, about the decisions she makes as a writer, the frustration of getting horrible reviews, having to write multiple drafts (up to a dozen for many writers), and “coming to grips with” problems and difficulties. She had three factors that helped her decide whether to write a work: (1) Am I intellectually engaged with a subject?, (2) What am I latched onto and compelled to write? What is my heart saying?, (3) Will writing this make me a better writer? I could see how her deciding factors could help me with my own writing. Sometimes I don’t know if something I write is worth expanding on. Now I can use some of her ideas to help me decide.
Some of what Corona said was a bit discouraging, but it was good to have a reality check. A writer, she said, has to deal with the material she has and doesn’t have at hand. I often write about things that I already know and have information about, which I now realize is preventing me from writing something new and more engaging to me and to potential readers. One thing she said really stuck with me, and I hope it will motivate me to write about things I have never thought of writing about. Corona believed that, “Sometimes being scared is a far better reason to do it than not do it.” Writing can be a daunting and scary process for me, but knowing that her decisions as a writer, her struggles, and her perseverance through criticism and rejection eventually led her to publish many books gives me hope that I have the potential to do the same.