Friday, March 18, 2011

An Ode to the Loft

The Twin Cities. Yes, the winters are long and the summers hot and stormy. Minnesota, because of its location in the middle of the country, misses out on the moderating effects of the oceans. We sit on the 45th parallel north, halfway between the North Pole and the equator (the 45th parallel incidentally also passes through Belgrade, Serbia, where I was born.)

But I digress. Yes, the weather in the Twin Cities can be wild at times. But we have the Loft.

It's a good place to take a writing class, listen to a reading, or just grab a cup of coffee and sit down with a book.

In their own words:
The mission of the Loft is to foster a writing community, the artistic development of individual writers, and an audience for literature.

Incorporated in 1975 in a space above a Minneapolis bookstore, the Loft Literary Center has grown to become the nation’s largest and most comprehensive literary center. From novels to children’s literature, from playwriting to poetry, from spoken word to memoir, there’s something for everyone at the Loft. Programs include readings by acclaimed local and national authors, classes, weekend genre conferences, competitions and grants, open groups, writers’ studios, and much more. The Loft is located in the award-winning Open Book literary arts building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As I was writing my first book, I took workshops at the Loft over the course of a few years and attended a novel-writing conference. Yesterday was the first time I had been "on the other side of the podium", for my first book reading. This is what greeted me when we arrived:


I couldn't believe it! They'd taken an unknown newbie writer and put my name on the outside of their building. (With a slight snafu with my first name, which was interesting because it's usually my last name which gets mangled. The subject of a future post: the trials and tribulations of being an author with a hard-to-spell name.)

The reading itself was a cozy and intimate experience (we didn't have a ton of people show up, it being St. Patrick's Day -- note to self, don't schedule talks on holidays) but I enjoyed it very much. I talked a bit about how the book came to be published, read a bit, and then answered some good questions -- people were curious about the process of switching from science to novel-writing and also where I got the idea for the story about a culinary writer who goes to an alternate universe.

Anyway, if you live in the area and haven't checked the Loft out yet, I highly recommend it. It's a great place for readers, aspiring writers, and authors.