Learning to Live and Write

In an effort to graduate a few months sooner, I’m taking summer classes at DePaul.  My past life as a journalist has made my nonfiction skills strong and I decided to push my writing skills further, to other genres.  Last quarter I took a short story class and this quarter I’m in a scene and vignette writing course.  I have to admit, it’s not something I’m used to, and sometimes it’s easy to feel behind in comparison to those seasoned fiction and poetry writers.

Still, I think it’s important to push myself into doing those things I’m afraid of.  Since my time to graduation is ticking down and I will soon begin my job search, I’ve decided to move beyond my comfort level in other areas.

As a child, I never learned to swim.  I feared most normal childhood activities, and I was a little slower at learning to play at the park.  I was afraid of slides, ladders, swings — anything that took me off the ground.  Riding a bike was a challenge too, and even though I always had one, I didn’t ride it very often.

This summer I’ve been riding with my boyfriend on many of the trails in the northern suburbs.  I’ve survived 27-mile bike rides, and my goal is to build more each week.  I also bought a life jacket and got used to floating in a lake.  I was a little embarrassed when the three-year-olds around me were able to jump into the water without fear or without needing to hold on to the boat, but little by little, I’m learning to trust that I won’t sink with a life jacket on.  It may take another summer before I can take that life jacket off, but if I keep working toward it, if I keep trying, I can only improve.

If I learn to navigate these challenges, then my hope is I will learn to navigate my next big moves: Finish a documentary, publish some writing, find a job that will take me on the path I want — and recognize that that might not be the easiest or quickest path if I want to do something I love.

I had a breakthrough in class the other night, when a writing exercise finally clicked for me.  It clicked for me the weekend after I rode 27 miles, the weekend after I made my first attempts to learn to swim.  Sometimes you have to wait for the right moment, when your mind is warmed up and ready to explore new worlds.



The Weekly Bookstore Tradition: A Post-Father’s Day Reflection

Father’s Day this past Sunday reminded me of what a major role my dad played in my love for books.  In transcribing all of these interviews for this independent press project, I began to look at that history in a new light.

Growing up, one of the few things my dad and I did together, just the two of us, was go to the bookstore.  I watched him come home every night, sit in his chair, and crack open a book.  I started to imitate this behavior and not long after, I began tagging along on his weekly trip to Barnes and Noble or Borders.  He would wander off to his favorite sections and I would head for the Children’s section and later on, Young Adult.  We’d reconvene after an hour or so of getting lost in the book titles, and we’d each have a stack of books in our hands.  I’d be anxious the whole time, wondering if he’d make me put one back, so I’d try to limit myself to two books.  He never made me put any of them back.

I am sad to think of the now closed Borders we used to visit in Wheaton, IL.  I grew up, stopped going to the store every weekend, and now it’s gone.  Of course, it’s not as simple as all of that — there’s Amazon, the growing popularity of ebooks, and new storytelling formats.  If I were a little girl growing up now, I wonder if Dad and I would still be going to the bookstore — or if we would be doing something else, like playing with his iPad.

I don’t visit the bookstore on a weekly or even monthly basis now.  I order all of my graduate school books off of the internet, and only go to bookstores for a special treat.  Would I still love books in the same way if I hadn’t made those weekly trips to the bookstore?

Though I feel guilty for neglecting the bookstores, I take comfort in the fact that my love for books has not gone away.  I may not visit the store quite so often, but I’m still reading.  I’m still buying books.  My hope is that as long as we’re still showing up to read, books won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Printers Row Literary Fest 2012

The 90-degree heat didn’t keep me away from Printers Row this weekend!  I visited with some great presses and authors, and found several good book deals.  I was excited to see a lot of small and independent presses there, including the presses I interviewed.  I also had the chance to meet with a few I haven’t yet been able to interview.

I stopped by the Small Press Tent and talked to Curbside Splendor.  Franki Elliot had her typewriter out for a round of Typewriter Stories.  I opened a book to a random page and selected a word for her: flatbed truck.  She wrote me a great, on-the-spot poem and I was so impressed that I bought her book Piano Rats.  I’m really enjoying this collection of prose poetry and it is inspiring me to try and write some for the class I’m currently in at DePaul on Narrative Clarity.  I’m not much of a poetry person — at least not since I discovered how terrible the poetry I wrote in high school really was — but I’m beginning to consider playing more in this genre.  Thank you, Franki Elliot!

After a day of browsing the tents, I checked out Essay Fiesta.  I can’t believe I hadn’t seen one of their shows sooner and I will definitely check out more of them this summer.  These live events are just another reminder of what an amazing literary community Chicago has.  When I lived in the Twin Cities, I found a home at The Loft Literary Center, and have been searching for that same kind of connection ever since.  Now that I’m becoming more involved in the Chicago writing community, I’m feeling that same camaraderie among Chicago writers.

I left Printers Row even more excited to dive into this small press anthology project!  Over the next month I plan to shoot a few more interviews with presses I met at Printers Row, followed by logging and editing.  Please stay tuned — I will have a short trailer up soon!



Welcome to my personal website! Here you can find updates on all of my current video and writing projects.

Starting in April 2012, I began working on an independent press anthology as part of an independent publishing course at DePaul University.  The anthology is tentatively titled Independent Voices: A Small Press Sampler.  While the goal of the course was to create a printed anthology, I decided to also film all of my interviews with local presses.  My goal is to edit and post short videos to the anthology website in July, and then see where I can take the videos from there.  To date, I have filmed 13 interviews with Chicagoland independent presses, and am continuing to film through the month of June.  This summer I will also be working with the professor of the course to edit the printed anthology.

I hope for the video project to be a celebration of independent presses, as well as an in-depth look at how they’re operating during a time of great change for the industry.  Questions cover digitization, the importance of reading, the close-knit network small presses have created, and new trends or ideas.

The independent presses I have interviewed include both literary magazines and book publishers.  Some have just one or two employees, others have up to 18.  Some are online-only publications, and some appear in print only.  I would like to interview a wide range of publishers.

If you are an independent press in the Chicagoland area and would like more information on the project, or would like to see a list of the questions, please contact me at marcyfarrey@nullgmail.com.  You can choose to participate in the printed anthology, the video project, or both.  I welcome all who are interested!