Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Talk! "Some Observations on Electric Eels"

A week or so ago on Twitter, I promised that once I crossed the five-thousand-followers mark, I'd put another of my writing talks up on my website. Here it is:

The title comes from one of my favorite quotations ever, from the delightfully eely Dame Edith Sitwell: “I am not eccentric. It is just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of goldfish.” To that end, it's about being an eel in a pond full of goldfish, about the ways we tell stories about eels and goldfish (because everyone thinks of themselves as an eel, no one as a goldfish), about the levels at which readers can connect to -- suture with -- characters in stories, and how to survive if you are an eel -- or a lonely kid, or a bullied one, or a writer or artist.

(What I really love about Dame Sitwell's quote is the "It is just that" -- that simple statement of fact, from her point of view, magnificently switching the locus of power over from anyone who would call her "eccentric" to herself and her own aliveness.)

Hope you enjoy!


  1. I absolutely love this quote! It helps that it succinctly describes how I feel most of the time - but especially today. Thanks so much for sharing. (Also enjoyed "Second Sight" as well!)

  2. Thanks for sharing your talk. A friend sent it to me yesterday just as I was sitting down to eat lunch (at my desk). It was the perfect reading material to mull over as I looked out my school-room window and saw all those little goldfish and eels playing on, or lingering near, the playground.

  3. Love the quote, wonderful talk. Thanks! --Eel