Thursday, May 27, 2010

Karen Joy Fowler on "Setting"

The author of "The Jane Austin Book Club has some good advice for writers.

1) Ask yourself: what’s the thing you wouldn’t know unless you’d actually been there? That’s the detail you want to include.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Is Anybody Out There?

One of the first writing projects started after my mom died was a collaborative story with writer (whom I met at the Famous Writers School MFA program) Felicity Shoulders that will appear in an anthology, "Is Anybody Out There?" edited by Marty Halpern and Nick Gevers.

We collaborated for a bunch of reasons, one of them – that I wasn't ready to think about writing on my own. Writing is always a process of letting go, but collaborating forces you to negotiate words and ideas. You are always collaborating as a writer, usually with your reader, who pretty much buys into what you've written, though they can interpret or analyze but unable to change the words. When you collaborate with another writer, you try to match ideas and words and styles as if you're thinking with one brain, not an easy task. Felicity and I revised our story so many times we lost track of who wrote which bit.

I'm excited about the story and grateful to Felicity for giving me the push I needed to get started again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Please support me & the Clarion Write-a-Thon

The past few years have not been the most productive writing-wise, but there are other things besides writing (name three). Since 2005 ish, I've cared for two ill parents before their deaths, trained the world's worst dog (so much worse than the dog Marley, who at least got a book deal out of it), taught writing classes, struggled with illness, earned a master's degree, did some laundry and scrubbed the soap scum from the shower doors. I planted snap peas (dog ate them) and updated my web page. My hair is mostly growing back. The sun has made an appearance after an incredibly long and wet and gloomy winter. A little over a year since my mom died and I'm returning to creative work.

I am going to participate in the Clarion Write-A-Thon to raise money for beginning writers enrolled in the Clarion Writers Workshop. I hope to find sponsors willing to donate $10.00 or more (or less). The donations are tax deductible. The money goes to The Clarion Foundation and is used to support the program, but when you sponsor me, you give me a moral boost and help me by creating a deadline that I'll meet by writing new stuff.

You can also encourage me to write by posting a kind word here (or there) and I'll try to do the same for you.

The Thon officially begins June 27 and ends August 7, 2010, but since I've known I was going to participate I've finished a couple of drafts of short things that have long been in process, and finished one preliminary draft of a new very short story. I have much revising to do, but finishing things, even drafts, is a big deal. And I've picked up the long-suffering novel ("Clutter") with the goal of finishing that one and moving on to the next. My goals (which could change) are to finish a few of the many starts that have been on my desktop since everything went to shit and then get cracking on a novel started in October that I haven't looked at since.

I used to tell myself that art and writing helped us transcend the difficulties of life. I'm not sure I still believe that but I still think art's important, even if only because we all need occasional breaks from the horrible and mundane.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Story at Serving House Journal

No Jack Russell Terriers were harmed in the making of this story.

What I love about Serving House is hearing different voices speak from the Table of Contents. Individual character and difference haven't been smoothed out to fit a house style like Glimmer Time Magazine.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writers Talking: Leslie What and Craig Lesley

In the hold that date department:

Writers Talking: Leslie What and Craig Lesley

Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Central Library, 801 S.W. 10th Ave. Portland, OR 97205
503.988.5123, US Bank Room

How often to you see a Leslie with an "i" together with a Lesley with a "y"?

Leslie What is a Nebula-Award winning writer and graduate of Pacific University's MFA in Writing. Rick Kleffel says about her story collection Crazy Love, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, "She can hook you with just a few words and after that, you're on your own in the emotionally vivid worlds she creates. And for all the pain she wrests from her characters and thrusts in your face, for all the vivid anger and wrenching anguish she puts the reader through, there's a sort of clarity here that's positively cathartic." Recent work appears in Utne Reader and Serving House.

Craig Lesley is the author of four novels, numerous short stories, and, most recently, a memoir. His work has received The Western Writers of America Best Novel of the Year, three Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Association Awards, an Oregon Book Award, and the Medicine Pipe Bearer's Award. Both Storm Riders and The Sky Fisherman were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Craig’s memoir Burning Fence is receiving outstanding praise, including these words from Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong: "Craig Lesley has been justly celebrated for his novels. Now this vivid, unflinching story of his own life, as a son and as a father, can only serve to increase his already considerable stature as a writer and, not incidentally, as a human being."

Presented in partnership with Pacific University's Master of Fine Arts in Writing program.