World News and Part III Final of Conference

First let me say that I, like most of the world, have been tied to the news as we read of the tragic events in Japan.  I feel one-minded and a bit "closed" writing about writing instead of really taking a moment to reflect on what is happening in the bigger world around us.  This will land at least 3 pages in my journal and be something my boys will most likely not remember but I will.  Protected in a clear bubble but just how fragile is that bubble? 

I will just briefly mention my Part III of the conference.  I took part on day three in a workshop designed to discuss emotions with Josh Rathcamp.  He discussed how you can intergrate emotion into a piece without "saying a character is angry, happy, mad, dispondent, depressed, lost, unfocused..." We looked at a few pieces of short work and then were given an exercise.  We unfortunately did not have time to share but what he had to offer was very valuable.   Think of your character acting out during a time of tension and instead of saying they were in dispair, show us.  Great lesson.  The day concluded with a wonderful brunch and with quick, fluid discussion, emails and business cards were exchanged. 

I have since gained another group of writers to work with and will find the time to fit it all in. 

I have to tell all of you one thing.  Maybe you can relate or maybe you're one of the few (and those I envy) who can push out 3 chapters in one sitting... but my hubby said after the conference, "well, lets go... get writing!"  One of the more insightful closing remarks by one author on the final day, was "we are all going back to our lives, and eventually the question will come up, what's taking you so long?  Why does this writing thing take so damn long??"  Good question and the answer I gave my husband tonight as we watched the sun turn the sky a crimson shade of pretty, was it takes so damn long because it is soooo hard."   I think more than that is: because it is so..... me..

Ahhhh the love of writing.............. and remember to hug your family and be grateful. 

Part II of the ASU Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference

Welcome to Part II: 

On Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to hear from Victor LaValle.  I will summarize this course, "Got Plot" with some great tips and notes.  (My black journal is covered with 35 more pages of ink because of this conference....)

You can sway a reader if you state it with confidence. 
We used the story excerpt from The Deadly Circle by Samuel Fuller and San Francisco by Amy Hempel.  Two very different plots and one was much easier to decipher than the other.  But once we were shown how the writer was guiding us, this reading opened up opportunities for us in our own writing. 

He finished with another statement:  The writer should be calm and assertive.  I will take those words with me, for sure!!

Later that afternoon and before closing, I along with others attended two more discussions.  The next was with Naeem Murr, Meeting the Stranger.  He used a great analogy of dreams and how there are no uncesssary 'inputs' in dreams... everything is there for a reason in our dreams!!  So do the same thing in your writing.  If it really is not necessary, if you cannot explain the significance, and if your reader cannot understand it.. well then kill your little darling.  Convince the reader.  We discussed Flannery O'Conner, A Good Man is Hard to Find and I have actually been reading her stories before the conference.  There was not much discussion but rather a lot of speaking by Naeem.  He has a lot of great information. 

I finished the day with Submitting to Literary Journals!!!  I was pleasantly surprised to hear them say, they typically skip cover letters and in most cases, most journals don't even ask for a cover letter.. They get right to the work.  I agree!!  The "Hook" was a topic and of course when you are reading thousands of submissions and will only publish a handful, you need a hook.  Make the writing stand up on its own and lesson learned; don't try to be cute, just write well!!  Finally, do not put any work in its full form on a blog or website if you plan on submitting it for publication consideration.  If you do so, well guess what?  By putting it out there, you have published it.  You would think this would be obvious but the editors explained they have had this happen. 

Some great places suggested for Literary Journal submissions-   New Pages   Luna Park   Lit List Review and cwrwopps plus the Million Writers Award.  I have yet to go to any of these, so I hope they are correct if you go looking.  If not, please comment if you have the correct site!!

Thank you for reading and check back on Friday for the Final Part III

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.