This Wednesday, 10 local writers will be presenting their work at Chevalier’s Book Store. The group is part of a writing workshop, “Five Nights, Five Tarts,” created by Larchmont Village writer and Buzz contributor Devon O’Brien. The workshop consists of five sessions, each accompanied by a delicious homemade tart. We spoke O’Brien about her workshop and the reading this Wednesday.
Tell us a bit about the Chevalier’s event.
Chevalier’s, the best and oldest bookstore in Los Angeles, has invited me to bring the writers in my weekly workshop, Five Nights, Five Tarts, to share work they have conceived, crafted and created at my table. The reading begins promptly at 7. At 8 we will be eating a tart.
Five Nights, Five Tarts has been around for a while. How’d it start?
I was on Larchmont with Tom, my son. I bought Vogue at the newsstand and we stopped to get something to eat. A friend walked in and I told her that we were celebrating the publication of my essay in Vogue. My friend said, “Do you ever teach writing?” That was a lightbulb moment.
Where were you eating?
We were at Sam’s eating a bagel. The pages of Vogue got very messy. People had often asked me how I go about writing. Taking the question seriously, I arrived at the conclusion that you cannot teach someone to write.
The will to write is the great teacher. But sometimes people who want to write have trouble sitting down to write. Then, they have trouble staying in the chair. I have a lot of chairs at my house! How better the offer of space to write, and the silence to write? I forbid the writers at my house to do a dish or bring a plate in to my kitchen. I wait on them. I want not just through my words but my actions to convey that the continuity of their thoughts and the filling up of the page or the screen is all that matters here. Five Nights, Five Tarts is a weekly writer’s retreat.
What do tarts have to do with writing?
At my house, everything. Another impediment to writing is being alone. Yet it is impossible to feel alone if you know that someone is cooking for you. Plus, writing is hard. Writers deserve a reward for withstanding the rigors of writing. I like rewarding them.
So you are actually baking while the writers write?
Really? What do you do?
I shout out. “Hey? Anybody want some tart?” I love it when writers don’t stop writing! It makes me laugh. Writers often do not want to write. They don’t want to drive over, show up or write. But at the end of two hours — they don’t want to stop? The evening is already a success.
I have a sweet tooth. And I always wanted to be the type of person who could throw together a tart and share it with friends.
Now you’ve made a few.
The first night of my workshop I made my first tart. Some writers have been with me since that first tart. I am so proud of these writers — those who were already published and those who are new to the craft of writing. There’s a quote from Colette: Writing only leads to more writing. I always say to my writers, if you can write for two hours a week at my house, then you can do the same at your house.
How many tarts have your made?
I’ve lost count. But guessing, I’d say that this week at Chevalier’s we will be celebrating the 300-tart mark.
Join O’Brien and her writers (including this one: I started work on my Larchmont pictorial history, which is now on sale at Chevalier’s, at O’Brien’s workshop), on Wednesday evening for inspiration and tarts.