Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lise Funderburg

On October 17, I participated in Philadelphia Stories' Push-to-Publish Writers Conference at Rosemont College. I highly recommend this conference for anyone who is not just interested in writing, but also interested in finding an audience for his/her writing. Despite the cold wet weather, there was a strong turnout for the day's events, which included speed dating with editors and agents, and panels on placing short stories, creative non-fiction, children's fiction, utilizing Web 2.0 and more.

This year as the keynote speaker, Lise Funderburg delivered her Five Point Plan for Publishing (or her "Self Delusional Techniques.")
  1. The Lotto Motto - You've got to get in it to win it. Basically, do your research and submit your work.
  2. It's Only Postage - Send your work out. She endorses multiple simultaneous submissions.
  3. One Bad Apple Doesn't Spoil the Barrel (of Submissions). Just because one magazine or publisher passes on your work, doesn't mean you should give up.
  4. Embrace the Petty - Rejection is inevitable. You may experience the 5 steps of grief. For Funderburg, one step is Zappos.
  5. Man Up/Woman Up - After 30 rejections, you may want to rethink and revise your work. If you get helpful criticism from an editor, use it.
  6. Bonus Point - Fake it 'til you make it.
Funderburg gave solid advice with lots of humor, a necessity to withstand the rejection that goes along with being a writer. She's very down-to-earth and likable (plus she knits!)

At the end of her talk, she read from her memoir Pig Candy - Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home. It is the story of a her relationship with her father as he returns to his hometown in rural Georgia and faces his mortality. Her love for her father is tangible in the beauty and care she takes with her words; but, one gets the sense that this is a complicated relationship. Funderburg mentioned that she often finds herself writing about food and this excerpt is no exception:
Down South, spring has advanced. Pear trees are in full bloom, naturalized daffodils stripe the just-greening pastures with yellow, and deep red camellias dot walkways and yards, sentries at every door. Sweaters need to be kept nearby but not on, windows are cranked open to ensure a cross breeze. We make good time from the airport to the farm, just over an hour, and Dad and I don't bother to unpack before we turn our attention to the two items on our agenda: roasting a pig and getting him some chemo.

First, the pig. In January, my father read a newspaper article that chronicled the author's experiment with cooking a seventy-pound pig in a Cuban-American-designed roasting box called La Caja China: a simple plywood cart lined with metal and designed to suspend coals above rather than below the meat. The outcome, sweet and savory, succulent and crisp, earned the paradoxical moniker "pig candy."
Funderburg's language is so lush I can smell the southern spring blossoming, and I can definitely smell that delicious pig. Yum!

For more about Lise Funderburg, visit her website at