March 21st, 2013
The 2012-2013 Visiting Writers Series featured Christina Adams, author of A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention, and Recovery (Penguin, 2005), on Thursday, March 7th, 2013, at California State University, Long Beach’s Soroptomist House. Adams began her talk by discussing her career progression and recent career that involves working on a new book about the benefits of camel milk for people with autism. She then addressed writers’ goals and asked, “What makes a book or article worth reading?” In response, she offered four features of readable work: truth, story, pace, and writing skill. Adams claimed that writing is at once selfish and selfless: taking time from others and making one self-involved while giving readers enjoyment, emotion, and important information. Speaking to aspiring writers, Adams recommended writing two to four hours a day to develop strong skills and publishable work. She outlined tools for writing, ranging from notes to multimedia, and encouraged writers in the audience to persevere and follow new, unexpected paths. “Writing,” Adams explained, “helps you figure out your personal life, which leads to better living.”
Adams transitioned into a discussion of her latest venture by showing a photograph of her and Gil Reigler receiving frozen Israeli camel milk from San Diego International Airport at 2 a.m. “How weird is that? I’m not an animal person. Who knew?” she said. Adams came across camel milk after the publication of her book in 2005. Following a hunch about the benefits of camel milk for people with autism, she got some camel milk, gave it to her son, and immediately saw improvements in her son’s autism. Her son is now fifteen years old and continues to benefit from camel milk. Sharing her experiences, Adams truly demonstrated that material, from the mundane to the mysterious, is where you find it. “People are interested in the odd and the universal. Joining the two is a triumph,” she said. Concluding her talk, Adams offered the following advice on how to succeed as a writer: workshop your manuscript, go to conferences, contact agents, establish a credible platform, refine you message, research potential buyer numbers (factually define your audiences), and use social media in your proposal or pitch.
Adams wrote fiction in CSULB’s M.F.A. program, and her master’s thesis, titled Boozy Creek, won the award for “best first chapter of a novel.” Despite her focus on fiction throughout graduate school, however, Adams made a career for herself in nonfiction writing, working in government and the aerospace industry. She turned her attention to autism after her son was diagnosed at age two. Since then, she delivers lectures nationally on relationships, health, and autism, and has had her work featured in Autism File Global Magazine, The Washington Post, Child Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, and several other venues. Adams has also been interviewed by Web M.D., NPR, and many other television and radio shows.
The Visiting Writers Series has been a tradition at CSULB for decades, hosting many of the country’s most prominent writers. The 2012-2013 series is really something special because it welcomes back graduates of CSULB’s Creative Writing M.F.A. program who are now out in the world writing and publishing books.
All readings in the 2012-2013 Visiting Writers Series are co-sponsored by CSULB’s Department of English, English Students’ Association (ESA), HipPoetics Creative Writing Club, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.
[Photo: L-R Stephen Cooper and Christina Adams]
Written by Cortney Kimoto