ASU Writers Conference Lessons Learned; Part I of a Part Three III Series

What else is there to say?  I have had the wonderful opportunity to dive headfirst into the writing community and experience, for at least three days, a constant surge of living, breathing and writing about the craft.  I absolutely loved it.  I want to first give a big wonderful hug to the ladies who have supported, read, shared, friended, commented.  Check these out;  to read Meg Waite Clayton's article just published on the Huffington Post!!! Her next novel out very soon; The Four Ms. Bradwells. and my page followers

Check them all out!! If I forgot anyone please send!  I also met some wonderful people at the conference and along with my on-line friends, I look forward to connecting with others locally! 

Today was back to the grind, literally.  My creative flow came to a screeching halt as quickly as I turned on the computer at work and saw 167 emails waiting.  I digress.

The Conference Lessons Learned Part I:
I arrived home on Sunday after a wonderful brunch and some "Words to Write By" at the conference.  I actually had the house all to myself after my kids and husband had left Saturday morning for a hockey tournament in Prescott.  Imagine that, 9 years it has been since I have been in the house alone.  Believe, me I am not rushing that.  I missed the comotion but I had the TV to myself!  Yes, I should have been writing but my God, I had written all day and again, the Doritos and Three Stooges just sounded really good at about 6:30 Saturday night. 

After K.L Cook's class ( I blogged about that previously and again, what a class!  Entitled, "Let's Misbehave"), I elected to sit in with Renee Simms who would discuss "Flair in Fiction; What Poets and Stylists Teach Us".  We discussed prose (which is anything not poetry) and how writers of prose can extract lessons from poetry to increase the readability and flow of the work.  I completely agree with this.  As mentioned earlier I have discovered a new dimension to my writing and reading by examining poetry. 

We were given a black and white photo of a Brookly family from 1966 taken by Diane Arbus. 

We were then asked to describe the photo in the manner of C.K. Williams.  We were given two C.K. Williams poems, The Dance and Shame.  It would be beneficial to google these two works to get a sense of the exercise.  Very challenging task.  She wanted us to use more complicated language, that did not rely too much on direct information but rather a more intuitive method to interpret our perception of the photo. 

Although I read my interpretation I have included a variation of the first sentence here.  I did not care much for the ending and we had a whole 5 minutes to do this:

Joleen and Tony are the nucleus that link Anna and Leo to life.  A thin life hanging by a gossamer thread of bare cabinets, Lucky Strikes and brawling fights when mommy and daddy disagree about green money, yellow beer and fancy girls with red lips....

My voice on this began more as a 3rd person omniscient then trasitioned to the children.  At least that was my attempt.  Difficult!!!

Our next exercise in the same class was now to identify a "Group" that a person could belong to.  Using the "we", we were directed to give an opening to a story.  Our samples included, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Karen Russell,) Farewell to Arms (Hemingway) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston).  Here was my take, again I read aloud;

We sidled in tight formation through the alley.  The moon hung full and heavy above and with our heads cantered to the side, we filtered the night noise.  The third guy back stumbled and hit a trash can, temporarily halting our prosession against the wall.  Gunshots slapped the curtain of night hard and forceful.  I curled my finger around the trigger and all at once we ran forward and fast whooping our own variations of "gonna get those fuckers, show 'em they aint takin us down like that!"

We were Superman.   Our chests like iron but skin bare and not quite man-like, arms sinuey and gangly as we ran wildy, a blur of feet and gravel.  Every muscle engaged as the bullets found their mark, leaving each of us to stop short, life at fourteen. 

Again, sometimes in workshop-my experiences as a cop play out on paper.  This was a great exercise.  I recommend the readings prior to show why I wrote it this way.

Part II will be Wednesday and I will share my notes on "Got Plot" with Victor LaValle and "Meeting the Stranger" with Naeem Murr.  Great day!!

Thanks for Reading!!  Keep Writing!!


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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.