Leading Literary Light Leaves League: Michael Noll

Last night I attended another Writers League of Texas Third Thursday panel. I was late to the discussion, but luckily they all get uploaded as podcasts on their website, WritersLeague.org. Fortunately, I was able to get to the second half because it was the swan song of moderator and WLT former Program Director Michael Noll. Author, teacher, lover of snacks, dad, teller of dad jokes, and genuinely nice guy, he will be missed.

Buy Michael’s book to learn about how to write fiction. Source: Deep Vellum Press

Organizing classes for the League, traveling the state of Texas to talk about how to be a writer, hosting the panels / podcasts, and League office hours kept him very busy. Although we only talked a half a dozen times, I heard him speak on numerous occasions. When we did chat, at either One Page Salon or Third Thursdays, I felt that he was truly listening. He actually cared about a new writer who is trying to figure out what to do. While this was his job, it seems it was also a calling. The staff tributes were moving, heartfelt and genuine.

Hailing from Kansas and possessing a tall stature and farm boy good looks, Noll has authored a novel and also a non-fiction book. The Writer’s Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction (2018, Deep Vellum Press) has 40 one-page excerpts from published authors that illustrate a point of writing with comments by Michael. While I’m not a fiction writer, I hope to try it someday, and I’m sure it will be a useful book. (The Bike Rider and The Farmer was my one stab at fiction in this blog so far. Check it out if you haven’t and let me know what you think!)

The mission of the League is to teach the craft and business of writing and to foster a community of writers. Through Michael’s leadership, along with that of director Becka Oliver and other staff and board, it has expanded on all of the above. It hosts online and in-person classes, a retreat and a conference. I hope to attend the Agents and Editors Conference in April if I can raise the funds somehow. (Contact me if you’re interested in pitching in!)

When you’re struggling to become a writer, like a lost person in the desert finding an oasis, it’s helpful to have a few sips of water from the cool fount of knowledge. The chats I had with Michael were short but encouraging, and helpful hydration on the long journey to (hopefully) being published. The writer does the writing but there must be others like beta readers, editors, agents, supporters and readers (like you!) Like riding a bike, no one does it in a vacuum.

We who seek to create something of merit, be it writing, painting, dance, music, sport, film, science or something else — need mentors, role models, and teachers to guide and inspire us. This is no less untrue in the writing life; perhaps more so, because it’s an isolating, often solitary existence. I am grateful to Michael for being a stalwart encourager of so many people who want to and need to write around Austin and Texas, including little ol’ me.

Bon voyage Michael, and thanks! Check out his Read to Write Stories page.

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