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The Loyalty of Water: Fold into Family

Guest post by Liz Green 

Families are the most destructive force on Earth, aside from tornadoes.  A dear friend Ainsley, a member of my chosen family, shared that with me while we were in college. It’s stuck with me.  Only recently did she tell me that it came from the writer Reynolds Price.  Ainsley was the midwife (first editor) for my novel-in-progress. She offered this quip after some young adult bonding about the difficulties of given families.  But even chosen family can pose its own challenges.  It’s rather shocking how many people in my given and chosen family are writers, and what’s more shocking is how I can see family dynamics play out in the all-too-small literary world, ties of kinship or trust aside.  

And so for me, AWP this year was a homecoming.  Not only did I see scores of people I know from various corners of my writing life—colleagues from colleges where I teach, Mills alums, Lambda Literary Fellows, Tin House participants, slam poets—but this year the event took place in Seattle, which is where I made my debut in the world as a wee babe almost 35 years ago.   To top it off, my stepdad is a writer himself (Peter Donahue), and I got to connect with him when he read from his novels at a panel for Northwest writers, and then later, at dinner with my Mom and my friend Billie Mandel from Lambda.   It was a thrilling weekend filled with various families merging and dancing around the bookfair and endless escalators.   Are you on your way up or down the environment seemed to ask constantly.  The answer? Enjoy the ride.

This year I got the message: we need to stick together as writers in this culture.

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