What do a public radio reporter, former press secretary to the Maine governor, Buddhist priest and Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize winner have in common?
All gather every Sunday, in Mark Kramer’s Massachusetts living room. For the next few hours they share stories, discuss their work and prepare to publish non-fiction books.
They’re living proof that you’re never too old to learn. All mid-career professionals, they know plenty about writing. But they want to know more. Under Kramer’s guidance, they do.
Kramer — who before retiring spent 3 decades as a writer-in residence at Smith College, Boston University and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation — was born to write. His father, Sidney, co-founded Bantam Books in 1945; he’s been in the business ever since, and at 94 still practices publishing law.
Kramer’s mother, Esther, started Westport’s beloved Remarkable Books (the shop’s name spells “Kramer” backwards — who knew?). Esther and Sid still live on Bluewater Hill, and remain active in town affairs.
Growing up here, Mark Kramer considered himself an outsider: “Jewish in a Christian town, ultra-liberal in my beliefs.” Not until high school did he find kindred spirits — other students who also read Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. With “fellow outsiders” Deb Fortson and Betty Boulware, Kramer edited Soundings, Staples’ literary magazine, in 1960-61.
Yet he flunked high school English. “My teacher did not allow more than 3 spelling errors,” Kramer recalls. “I was completely ADD, and not very interested in spelling.” Three years later, he had a part-time professional editing job.
After a long career as a book and magazine writer, editor, speaker, teacher and consultant, Kramer retired. Now, his Sunday seminars keep him involved in writing — and offer inspiration to experienced, yet non-non-narrative-book-savvy, writers.
“They’re very skilled people who have not structured book-length projects,” Kramer says. “This is like a piano teacher teaching professional musicians who have spent their lives playing non-solo instruments. I feel very privileged to spend time doing this.”
Kramer doesn’t say it, but the implication is clear: He works with very “remarkable” writers.
(For more information on Mark Kramer’s seminars, click here. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)