And then there was one: Mylene Dressler at Carson McCuller's house

This week's Boxing the Octopus was a crash course in the author/agent relationship, and I hope our readers in agent search mode found it helpful. (Bowing here to Colleen, who seriously knows her stuff and so generously shares what she's learned.) Having the right I'll have my people call your people people is an important aspect of a healthy career, but at the end of the day author stands alone. Writing is a solitary endeavor and the place and space to reside within oneself and create--that is precious.

Heard this week from my friend Mylene Dressler, who's been the darling of critics and book clubbers since her lovely first novel, The Medusa Tree. The Women's Press recently named Mylene's The Deadwood Beetle, to it's all-time Great Books By Women Writers list. The distinction is based on a survey of book clubs, asking members the only question that really matters: "What book do you most recommend to other readers?"

I've always loved Mylene's books, and I suddenly understood why one day a while back when I was watching my daughter breaking in new pointe shoes before ballet class. Mylene Dressler writes like a dancer. Technical expertise suffused with artistic sensibility. Craftwork born out of rigorous study, innate talent, the discipline to contain one's art entirely within oneself, and the courage to do something dangerous.

So why don't we hear from Mylene more often? She's one of those authors I keep expecting to bust up the bestseller lists, but it doesn't happen, and while I'm sure she wouldn't mind if it did, Mylene's focus remains singular and unhurried. She writes the words she wants to write when the words want to be written. And she deserves the time and space to do that.

So I was delighted to hear from Mylene this week:
"In a few weeks, I'll be taking up residence in the home of Carson McCullers. Yes, Carson McCullers, beloved author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and novelist-Southerner-dreamer extraordinaire. The Carson McCullers Center in Columbus, Georgia will bring me out this September to live and work in McCullers' childhood home for the remainder of 2007, where I'll complete my new novel, give a few talks at the university, and meet the literary community there. This is only the second time the Fellowship, open to writers from all over the world, has been awarded, and I'm enormously proud to be this year's recipient. You can join me, whenever you like, on this new journey, by checking in on my on-line diary, In Carson's House, where you'll also find more details about my new book (yes, I know this one's been a long time a-borning, but bear with me, it's shaping up to be worth the wait)."

I'm deeply envious, ridiculously proud, and looking forward to hearing more about her sojourn.

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