WOW! 2009 Workshops
Attendance at sessions is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Morning Workshops ~ 10:30 a.m. - Noon
FREEING YOUR LIFE WITH WORDS — Susan Wooldridge
We’ll dive into the heart of narrative non-fiction and create a wild (or gentle) beginning. We’ll do a “depth sounding” to discover our truest territory. Be prepared to laugh and cry.
WHEN LIFE HURTS: WRITING AS A WAY OF HEALING — Sharon Bray
Writing that is poignant and powerful emerges out of our thorny life experiences. In times of illness, trauma and suffering, novelists and poets alike have used writing to help them deal with the painful experiences of their lives. It’s not only memoir or personal essay that results. Much of our most noteworthy fiction and poetry have been inspired by human suffering. “Wherever I go,” Sigmund Freud once complained, “a poet has been there first.” Writing is not only a means of creative self-expression; it has the power to help us heal. In recent years, a growing body of psychological and medical research has demonstrated that the simple act of writing down thoughts and feelings can help improve health and emotional well-being. Whether your goal is simply to use writing as a healing tool or to create memoir, fiction or poetry from your experience, you’ll have the chance to explore its healing power through example, discussion and a variety of short writing exercises. Open to all levels.
THE WORLD SPLIT OPEN: FINDING YOUR POETRY’S TRUTHS — Elline Lipkin
“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open," writes Muriel Rukeyser. "Tell all the truth but tell it Slant," says Emily Dickinson. In this workshop we will consider how to arrive at moments of insight, personal truth, or sudden realization and how to shape those truths into poetry. We will consider how to praise the everyday through use of the ode, how loss is lamented through the elegy, and how moments of deep awareness can be transformed into art.
YOUR LIFE AS STORY (Part 2)* — Tristine Rainer
In this workshop, you will learn to apply the secrets of story structure to your life. This is at once a class on craft for writers and a spiritual journey from which anyone may benefit. If you wish to write from life for yourself, for family, or for publication, this class is for you. Each of our lives contains a story to be acknowledged and given. It is in understanding the individual story or stories that your life makes that you embrace your life’s unique meaning.
*In response to requests for “what comes next” from participants, Tristine will be building on past workshops with new material. This approach will work for those who have never taken “Your Life As Story” and for those who are repeating it.
A PRIMER ON PUBLISHING — Amy Rennert and Patrick Walsh
In this course, Amy Rennert and Pat Walsh will address the process of finding representation and offer a primer on the realities in today's publishing world. They will discuss common errors made by novice writers and the pitfalls authors need to avoid. Students will learn the best approach for query letters and submissions. Amy will also focus on what authors should expect from agents and how to ensure the best relationship possible with agents and editors.
FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN: WRITING THE MOVIE OF YOUR DREAMS — Laurel Minter
You love to write and you love movies. This workshop teaches you the nuts and bolts of writing a feature-length, narrative screenplay, and participants will get the opportunity to outline a favorite story idea in class! Participants learn how to write memorable characters and effective dialogue. Students learn how to take the kernel of a story idea, structure it into a film, and learn a few tricks of the trade along the way. This workshop is for anyone who has ever dreamed that their story might be told best on the big screen or who wants to explore turning a passionate idea into a gripping film.
WEAVING FACT AND IMAGINATION: USING HISTORICAL CHARACTERS —James Tipton
I will talk about my challenges in writing Annette Vallon, A Novel of The French Revolution which is about real people, one very well known, about using the facts of their historical period, and about how that period then became another character in itself. In the workshop, participants will be free-writing on their own chosen historical character and sharing that free-write in small groups.
THE LANGUAGE OF LANDSCAPE: POEM-MAKING FOR FUN AND FULFILLMENT — Pamela Michael
You are invited to join award-winning author and art and poetry maven Pamela Michael for a creativity-sparking class on poem-making. Learn how to enhance your observation skills, liven up your language and tune into the music of nature. Pamela Michael has taught poetry to thousands of children and adults around the country using innovative, time-tested techniques that make creating poetry fun, memorable and anxiety-free. She is the director and co-founder (with former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass) of River of Words, the acclaimed youth poetry and art organization affiliated with The Library of Congress. Also a member of the award-winning writing group, Wild Writing Women, Pamela has written numerous articles for magazines and newspapers, as well as several books, including River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things.
PASSIONATE ATTENTION: THE ART AND PRACTICE OF WRITING FROM OUR EVERY DAY — Katharine Harer
“...(a person) becomes his/her attentions. Her observations and
curiosity, they make and remake her.” William Least Heat Moon
Writing in any form – journal, memoir, poetry, fiction, nonfiction – can become a way of sketching our lives, moment by moment. We can learn to fashion a habit of writing from what we see right in front of our eyes, and with this discipline comes great pleasure as well as companionship. We are never alone when we have a notebook and pen in our pocket. In this workshop, I will share some of the basic tools of writing from life, help participants design or refine their own practice, share some inspiring models from published writers, and lead the group in a series of guided writing exercises. The workshop is useful for all levels, from beginning to experienced writers, from poets to memoirists to journalists, and everyone in between and beyond. The workshop is particularly useful for emerging writers, but it can be helpful for writers at all levels of experience.
Afternoon Workshops ~ 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.
LAUNCHING YOUR WRITING: SAVVY STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE YOUR WORK — Panelists: Sandy Boucher, Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Calvin Crosby, Susan Bono. Moderator: Kathleen McClung
Are you searching for satisfying ways to see your words in print? Are you wondering how to project yourself to readers so that they will see you as a writer of interest? Do you wonder where to start in the business of promoting your work? Panelists will talk about how they have developed their personas and careers as writers and how they reach out to audiences, writing communities and alternative venues for producing, publishing, and, yes, even marketing their work.
SLOW DOWN, FAST FORWARD: WORKING WITH
NARRATIVE TIME —
Kathleen de Azevedo
Writers will work on ways to control the passage of time in narrative through the use of summary, scene, flashback and slow motion. These techniques can make a flat story sparkle and writers can modulate the actions and emotions of their characters. Participants will see the result of these exercises in their class work and will be able to continue refining these techniques in subsequent writing projects.
HIGH-TECH STORYTELLING — Ellen Lee
Storytelling isn’t just limited to words on a page. Come explore other ways to tell your story or enhance the one you’ve already written. We will look at new media tools such as blogging, video blogging, podcasting, and twittering to see how they can be used as narrative devices.
INSPIRATION COMES FROM THE MOST UNEXPECTED PLACES/
THIS ISN’T THE STORY I PLANNED TO WRITE — Travel Stories from Wild Writing Women: Jacqueline Harmon Butler, Pamela Michael, Lisa Alpine, Carla King, Suzanne LaFetra
The Wild Writing Women reveal how to improve your storytelling abilities and turn your travel experiences into specialty angles that open up publishing avenues beyond the Sunday Travel Section. So come launch your career as a travel writer!
WHAT'S THE PLOT? Finding the Heart of Your Play — Joan Holden
A play can start 100 ways: a moment of love or outrage, a memory, a situation, an event, a line, a topic, a nagging question, an image...it very, very seldom starts with a plot. But the play won't work until it has one. This is true whatever your style: linear or non-linear, conventional or avant-garde. Not a "plot" in the sense of intrigue and incidents and complications, but in the classic sense: a central, very simple story that unfolds throughout and unites all your wonderful characters, ideas and scenes into a living, moving whole. Once you've found it, you know where to start and where to end, what you need to add and what has to be cut. The hard thing is to find it. In this workshop we will practice first on outside examples, then on any works you have in progress.
THE ART OF MEMOIR WRITING — Maureen Murdock
Prompted by the loss of identity and memory that accompanied her mother's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, Maureen Murdock wrote the book Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory, which suggests that the faithful recording of the past isn't where the strength of memoir lies. Instead, it is the emotional truth of our experience that begins to reveal the underlying patterns of our lives. In this class, you will explore the recurrent question asked by writers and readers of memoir alike: What actually happened? You'll also discuss what to leave in versus what to leave out, how to develop a universal theme, and how to become a believable narrator. We’ll read excerpts by published memoirists and do in-class writing exercises.
WOMEN IN TRANSITION: THE POWER OF WRITING — Marcy Alancraig
Are you at a transitional moment in your life, standing in the doorway between the familiar past and the unknown present? Women in transition have their feet rooted in a place of power, though it often doesn’t feel that way. Writing is a wonderful tool to help you find the joys that lay amid the fear, the successes inside what can look like failure, the strengths that come from exploring the unknown. This workshop will explore the territory of transition, using the power of words. It is designed for women of all writing abilities and experience.
WOW! OPEN POETRY SLAM — Meliza Bañales, Emcee
Slam is a competitive poetry event that started in Chicago in the early 90s. Its father, Marc Smith, wanted to “bring poetry back to the people,” so he started an event at a local bar, The Greenmill, where anyone could participate regardless of experience and style. What started as a small event in a working-class neighborhood hang-out has turned into one of the most relevant poetry movements of our time, spawning thousands of well-known spoken word artists, almost fifteen years of national competitions and events, the award-winning HBO series “Russell Simmons Presents: Def Poetry Jam,” films, anthologies, and a new kind of poetry style.
We challenge you to bring your own poems and style to the WOW! poetry slam. Meliza Bañales, Oakland slam champion, will choose judges from the audience who will score each round of performances and decide who gets to go on to the next round —– all in the spirit of competitive FUN. Georgia Gero, WOW! Coordinator, will be the “sacrificial lamb,” reading first and taking her chances that the audience will love her. Won’t you join in too? Prizes for the winners!
Questions? Contact Marijane Datson, WOW! Program Director, 650.726.1411, email@example.com