Deep breath. No classes or obligations until 3 PM tomorrow. What will I do with that time? Organize my notes….and write! I’m feeling so inspired and eager to do something with that.
In the spirit of getting to that, I’ll offer a summary of what’s gone down the past couple of days for your interest and for me to look back on, some reflections on this experience so far, and then get to the business of what this blog is all about.
Day 5 (Wednesday, August 6):
Lola Haskins gave a marvelous presentation in the AM. I was pleasantly surprised by her authenticity and wowed by some of the poetry she shared. The topic of her presentation was writing as a response to art. She shared work that was as a response to art as well as art that was a response to her work. I’d like to buy her new book, but I know if I did I’d have to gift it to my sister-in-law, so I’ll wait for now. I did buy her book Not Feathers Yet: A Beginner’s Guide to the Poetic Life for my niece, Gloria.
I was prompted by her presentation to think about how my sister (graphic artist), my sister-in-law (poet), and I might collaborate on something. But, for now, I’ll let that be a simmering inspiration. There are other, more pressing, compulsions.
I attended a class titled “What A Novel Needs” taught by Brent Spencer. This was a very practical laundry list/ discussion of both what a novelist needs to include in her work and other considerations that a writer of books should be aware of in regard to publishing. During this class I was able to get down on paper some of the inspiration regarding my own novel that was bubbling to the surface.
He recommended the book A Few Good Voices In My Head.
Then, I attended a class on considering space as a way into writing and revision taught by Lia Purpura and Kent Meyers. This first day was a little hard, perhaps a bit too elusive to grasp–and HOT– but I left thinking that day two (this was a two session class) might illuminate some things for me. We were given an assignment to take something of our own and revise it taking what was happening in the literal and figurative space of the piece in our revision.
The readers for the evening included Linda Bierds, Brenda Miller, and Kent Meyers. Again, they were all fine examples of what can come of dedication to the craft. Kent Meyers excerpt from his upcoming novel Twisted Tree was creepy in the best way—artfully.
Day 6 (Thursday, August 7):
Woke up tired. Drank three cups of coffee. Three is supposed to be the magic number. I was still tired.
Judith Kitchen and Adrienne Harun gave a presentation titled “Prompted By Art”. These talented, funny women captured my attention, despite my drooping eyelids.
Day two of “What A Novel Needs”involved a continuation of the “laundry list” of considerations for the novelist and ended with some tongue-in-cheek “novel extenders. They included such tips as “include a character who needs everything repeated”, which I of course wrote down with a jolt of glee thinking on NaNoWriMo this November.
The next class was a continuation of Lia Purpura and Kent Meyers class on using space as a way to enter the creation and revision of a piece of writing. I will simplify the discussion by saying that the idea is to step back and consider your own writing in terms of how you are using the literal and figurative space in the piece and experiment with how in considering space, you might create more room for you reader to enter the piece of writing. The revisions that people brought in to share were ALL dramatic improvements on the original.
The reading tonight were all by students graduating this year. I was struck not only by the quality of the readings, but also by something that has been apparent to me all along—an unprecedented atmosphere of support and camaraderie.
A couple of writing schemes and such-like that I’ve jotted down over these last several days:
• I’ve gotten away lately from keeping a little notebook for jotting down whatever little images or pieces of conversation strike me. I’ve done this for years, but somehow ended up switching to a fancy larger notebook that is a bit of a pain to pull out. Why not have both?
• One question posed in a class, “how do you pace your writing every day?” alerted me to the fact that another school year is about to begin. If I want writing to happen, I’ve got to plan for it to happen. I will write every day. I will choose a word count for these days and try my best to stick to it. Two days will be dedicated to submission and/or revision. I won’t share with you here the gory details, just that they exist. ☺
Okay, now to the writing….