Writer to Writer, with Amanda M. Fairbanks

The one thing that all writers share, no matter what subject they are inking pages for, is that the blank page whispers a challenge to said writers. The page dares this crispness of the eight parts of speech to make it something readable and commendable. The empty void wants and wants and wants. The page is insatiable. The page requires. The blank page craves ink that craves curiosity, form, meaning, logic, and other assimilated things from the ether that must cross the writer’s hand to hold the reader’s attention. The blank page is indifferent to the sheer audacity of the writer to think that someone would actually take the time to read his thoughts. The blank page is a monster in the Homeric tradition. The blank page is also the abyss where words and ideas can get lost. Yet, some people stare at the page and when the challenge is met, the process begins. Then they act, with ink. And with nothing less than wild audacity, off we go. In a nutshell, that’s what writers do. We make order out of chaos.
Amanda M. Fairbanks is a journalist who wrote a book called “The Lost Boys of Montauk”. After Susan Bush gave me a galley of this provocative and well-researched book at the Point Judith ferry dock, I started reading it at the Point Judith lighthouse and also at a memorial for lost fishermen in the port of Galilee . I read the book in three quick sessions and then immediately contacted Amanda regarding certain elements of her book. Afterwards, we became friends as writers on the spot. Plus, we know the blank page all too well. “Always intimidating at the start of something. Every time,” says Fairbanks.
This curious woman from Santa Monica, California was a child who wrote for her high school newspaper. Amanda considers herself a “professional eavesdropper” and, having interviewed people, loves “to dive into an insane amount of research where I can retreat from the world and try to make sense of what I’ve found.” This kind of search-and-type exercise is what I call mad monk mode when I’m writing something. Fairbanks has this stuff built into their DNA, just like me. After talking – writer to writer – for a good hour with this very sharp character, I knew I had found a new bud of a writer to correspond with; I have a few guys I do this with and I feel very lucky to have these writers as friends. Writers work in isolation and it’s refreshing to just know someone who understands being dared by the blank page. It’s just nice to know that there are like-minded people out there.
Amanda and I just bonded by inking the pages. From writer to writer, stuff.
I never thought I would meet Amanda in person, and I was really just happy to have someone to read some of my columns, and maybe hear what new project was coming up for them – you know, what are you doing. However, as fate would have it, I was offered the chance to meet Amanda during an author book talk deal on Block Island. Although I rarely visit the island these days (I think we were there 13 years ago), when Susan Bush contacted me to host a discussion with Amanda at the Block Island Maritime Institute on July 14, I agreed from the tear. As a result of this invitation, my wife Cindy and I ended up helping Amanda square up with
his accommodation at 1661 and retrieve field information about Block Island. Amanda, who lives with her husband and children in Sag Harbor, had never been to the island.
The day before her Block Island speech, Amanda spoke at the Ocean House in Watch Hill. The next day, when I met her in the Galilee, I threw Cindy’s gear in the back seat and jumped into her car.
“I have to show you something,” I said.
“Let’s go,” she said.
And we went to visit the Point Judith Fisherman’s Memorial and the Point Judith Lighthouse where I read her book. It was important that I show him and tell him about this place and the impact his book had on me reading it there, looking towards Block Island and Montauk. This made the book a very visceral read. This is an example of writer-to-writer stuff and Amanda was taken by the experience. After our quick visit, we then had to go meet Cindy
to the Standby Shack and head to Block Island. Amanda and Cindy had cool, similar outfits and got into each other’s heads about god knows what and they were having a great time. They just hit it off on the fast pace, and we all went to Block Island for a great writer-to-writer adventure.
The Block Island Maritime Institute hosted Amanda’s event, and we were greeted by John and Sharon Lehman at the institute (I worked in this building in 1970 when it was Smuggler’s Cove) where we walked the room for our conversation about Amanda’s book. After a quick sound check, we all headed to Dead Eye Dick’s where we were treated to an excellent dinner hosted by owner Jessica Wronowski. Also, John and Sharon were excellent hosts for this event. In
our preparation for this conference, Amanda and I decided that we would just have a conversation about her book; she was convinced that I would create a solid context for our discussion. From writer to writer, stuff. We also both decided to have fun and then open our conversation to questions from the audience. With the decline of Covid 19, we both felt we all needed to have fun. Plus, BIMI was the perfect place to host the event and, in conjunction with Island Bound Bookstore, it was a win-win, win-win night. BIMI was a perfect place because of its educational and hands-on approach to learning maritime subjects. It’s a great asset to the community, and personally it was great for me to see people I normally see when working across the water at the ferry docks in Point Judith.
It was a pleasure to be invited to be a part of this event, and I’d like to thank Susan Bush and everyone who showed up to hear Amanda and I talk writer-to-writer and support her work. Finally, Amanda M. Fairbanks fell in love with Block Island, and she will most certainly return to visit her family.