At The Fireside Coffee Lodge

fireside2.jpgI’m sitting the Fireside Coffee Lodge, the kitschiest coffee house in Portland. The first time I entered I thought I’d died and entered Pacific Northwest wacko-world. I like the place now. It’s cozy, and it’s good for eavesdropping and wacko-people watching. An hour back a woman insisted to the barista, a red-headed musican named Jon, that she was on a government hit list because she knew too much about our “secret” Middle Eastern oil agenda. Gotta love it.

I’m here with a writing buddy, Mysterious Mr. M, and I’m glad he roused me out of my bath-robe funk around 11:30 a.m.

Fireside1The real topic of this post is the reading I went to last night: Molly Gloss. Her new novel, The Hearts of Horses, promises to be well worth reading groups everywhere. Ms. Gloss read two short passages that illustrated her humor, her horse knowledge, the ensemble cast, and the quiet love story at the heart of the novel.

Between the Wordstock literary festival (where I also saw her) and last night’s reading, she discussed two aspects of her writing life that resonated with me:

1. She lives alone now, and she’s found it hard to settle down to a writing routine. Welcome to the club!! I found it comforting that a novelist as experienced as she is struggles with how to shape her time and find her natural pattern. 

2. She does not generally let characters take over her stories. I found this interesting because I’ve been thinking about this regarding my first 120 pages, especially because my friend R– had asked me about this specifically (Not a Waste, After All post). In fact, Ms. Gloss mentioned a pivotal scene in The Jump-Off Creek, her best known novel, that was a moment where the characters took over. She said if she had it to do over, she wouldn’t let that scene stand as written. Wow.

Eavesdropping again. I can’t help myself. I just overheard a 20-something ask what the difference was between a “couplet” and a “stanza.” This isn’t fodder, this is just sad. Ms. Gloss might roll off her horse to hear such a thing.

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7 thoughts on “At The Fireside Coffee Lodge

  1. Next time! Too far at the moment because I’m famished. Only milk with my coffee so far today. I must find food! (It’s 4:30 p.m. right now.)

  2. Molly Gloss is quite amazing.

    I took a writing class from Molly Gloss a long time ago, about four years before you and I met. She was working on her novel The Dazzle of Day at the time.

    I was living in Cannon Beach and PSU offered satellite courses at the Elementary School during the summer. The class was a week long novel writing course. I had a great time, but I was way out of my league (or so I thought). There was one assignment where I just disappeared into my writing, almost literally. I’ve never been able to recreate that feeling… not that I’ve tried.

    I just dug out my samples from the course and found a comment from Molly that I should read every day:

    “Strong scene. You have a good gift for visual description. The interruptions and pauses are well-timed and vivid.

    When I was attending Portland State, there was an event for Ursula K LeGuin, and Molly was there as well: they are good friends. I actually was able to talk to both of them for about five minutes. Ah, the life of a fanboy.

    Sorry Lisa, I just realized I took over your entry 🙂

  3. Take over all you want! I didn’t know you took a workshop with Molly Gloss. That must have been wonderful; I could tell just from hearing her speak that she’d be a great teacher. (And why aren’t you writing, pray tell?)

  4. The stoners in the picture were still stuck in the parking lot an hour after they left the coffee house. Musta had car trouble with all that dense blue smoke drifting out the windows. Heh. Only at the Fireside, eh.

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