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Author T. C. Boyle gives advice to aspiring authors

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By Marcy J. Robles 

Contributing Writer 


“This is my matiere and I never looked back,” said Tom Coraghessan Boyle about his career as an author. The word “mariere,” according to the Oxford dictionary, is French for “subject.” This was a word Boyle said constantly throughout a seminar hosted by the New York State writers institute on Monday, Oct. 8, 2013.

Boyle wore black pants, a black leather jacket, and a black shirt. His attire, however, did have a splash of some color. His shirt had a graphic design that looked to be a red diamond with white outlining.

As for his choice of accessories, Boyle wore a silver watch and a silver ear clip. He had on a beaded black and green necklace in which black sunglasses hung.

His look, according to an article written by John McMurtrie, Chronicle Staff Writer of SFGate, is a look “that would make [Rolling Stones musician] Keith Richards proud.”

His shoe choice, red Converse, is what really caused a response from the audience.

“Oh, I wish I wore my red converse, we would have matched,” said Olivia O’Neil, UAlbany student.

Boyle has written 24 books of fiction. His most recent works include “Wild Child,” “When the Killing’s Done,” “San Miguel,” and “T.C. Boyle stories II.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in English and History from SUNY Potsdam in 1968.

Boyle did not always know that he wanted to be a writer. Growing up in Peekskill, he “was a kid like any other kid,” according to his autobiographical essay “This Monkey, My Back”.

He started college with the intention of becoming a musician. However, he decided to major in history when he flunked his audition. The reason he flunked his audition, according to Boyle, is not because he lacked skill.

He knew how to play saxophone well, but he didn’t know what was expected of him in terms of style and taste.

From there, Boyle decided to major in history. He felt that it would be a good option. Boyle really enjoyed reading stories in history, so he decided to consider English as a second major.

It was during a creative writing class that Boyle discovered his true path. He wrote a one act play called “The Foot.”

This play, according to Boyle’s description, started off with a suburban couple crying because an alligator ate their child and all that was left of him was his foot, which was dressed in a tennis shoe and set in the middle of a coffee table. His class enjoyed his comedy so much, that Boyle began to consider writing as a career.

As Boyle worked on his first novel, editors gave him a page limit.

“Only 500 pages,” they told him.

“And so I listened,” Boyle said with a sly smile.

Boyle didn’t want to cut any of his work. So he decided to write to the very end of the pages, lacking margins.

“It was supposed to be five hundred pages but in reality it was probably like 550 pages,” said Boyle with a laugh.

The audience had a chance to interact with Boyle. One person was curious about his writing process.

“Every morning I get up, sit at my desk, and bleed a chicken into a pan. When it’s bled cold, I am done [writing] for the day,” Boyle jokes.

However, Boyle’s real writing process includes listening to music and just doing what comes natural. He prefers to do his work in a remote place so he can remain concentrated on his writing. He never works at two things at once, and just prefers to work on one thing straight through.

Boyle informed the audience that he is attuned to editing his work, especially since he has a lot of practice editing student papers as an english professor at the University of Southern California.

One person inquired about the difficulty of making a career out of writing. Boyle said that he just did what he loved, not for money, but for pleasure, therefore he never thought twice about making a career out of writing However his advice to young aspiring writers… “Come from a wealthy family.”

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