Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone—An Online Learning Experience – National Writing Project

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone—An Online Learning Experience – National Writing Project.

This summer, I decided to hop on board an online course and community of educators led by teachers and authors Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan called the Unfamiliar Genres Project. Their book “Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres” is the basis for the course.

Part II of the course/community is active during the month of July. Each participant chooses an unfamiliar genre to research and to write in. I’ve chosen vignettes since most of the students I work with are training to become clinical psychologists and therapists and they write papers in which they are learning to assess clients by reading and responding to vignettes. But I’ve learned through my research that vignettes are also used in Psychology and Sociology research in surveys. And I’m knee-deep in reading journal articles that describe the research and reveal the vignettes. And I’m loving it!

Of course, rereading “The House on Mango Street” is a great deal of fun as is reading “Deer Table Legs” by Katayoon Zandvakili and “Slide” by Monica Zarazua.

Katayoon’s poems are vignette-like which may be directly connected to her other creative pursuit, which is painting. And Monica’s short fiction has vignette qualities. Until I did a reading with these two writers on Wednesday, I was unfamiliar with their work. So, I’ve had pleasant synchronicities occur with this project. And I have two new books!

Lyrics & Dirges Tonight at Pegasus Books Downtown

I’ll be reading with a stellar lineup of writers this evening at Lyrics & Dirges hosted by the lovely and gracious Sharon Coleman.

I’m first up, so get there early or you’ll miss me.

Here we are, in reading order:

Joyce E. Young
Monica Zarazua
Joshua McKinney
Katayoun Zandvakili
Rusty Morrison

We’d love to have you in the audience!

Here’s the link:

http://www.pegasusbookstore.com/event/lyrics-dirges-2

Hope to see you there…

Beast Crawl 2014

 

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Had a great time reading at Beast Crawl 2014 last night. The Beast Crawl Collective rocks!

Writers Tony Press, Robert Pesich, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, and yours truly took the stage and held the audience rapt with our wordsmithing at Spice Monkey. We worked it, to say the least. I had an absolute blast.

Ah…what a night!

For the breakdown and locations of the entire festival, follow this link:

http://beastcrawl.weebly.com/

Broadsides, Anyone?

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I’m in the process of creating a broadside of one of my poems that I plan to gift audience members with at two upcoming readings (I will post about them separately).

The broadsides of my own work are a first for me and I’ve had the great fortune to learn more about the history and origins of broadsides from a wonderful poet and friend.

In the past, Black Oak Books, a Berkeley independent bookstore, consistently and generously created broadsides and gifted them to audience members at readings.

I’m curious about the experiences that other writers have had with broadsides. Please share your stories about broadsides. It’s always good to hear what others have done and are doing.

Since a broadside represents one form of independent publishing, I think this will be my Independence Day Post.

What do our words really mean?

I was brought to tears by an essay by the writer Natalie Diaz. She writes of the dilemma that most of us who write and speak face: What do we mean when we say or write _______? However, those of us who are monolingual don’t have much to compare our language limitation(s) to. Diaz is multilingual and she shares the limitations of English through the lens of Mojave. After reading the first paragraph of her essay I wanted all of us to speak, write, read and understand Mojave. Or any language that could express in an active and visual way what I really mean when I say anything heartfelt, true, or real. And no, I’m not entertaining a desire to leave or deny my roots. This post has nothing to do with that. I proudly, solidly and gratefully stand on my ancestors shoulders.

Diaz begins with: “In Mojave, the words we use to describe our emotions are literally dragged through our hearts before we speak them…” I only write and speak English, but I feel more than I can often write or say and I often feel keenly the limitations of the language I have access to.

Here’s a link to her brilliant essay:

http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/03/if-what-i-mean-is-hummingbird-if-what-i-mean-is-fall-into-my-mouth.html

I needed to hear what Natalie Diaz had to say, and I’m sure I’ll be returning to her words often as I chip away at the language I use to write poems, fiction and love notes.

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The Rush

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Week 8 of an 11 week quarter. Harried students, all over the place writing, missed deadlines, budget deadlines…

Me: “We have to end our session now, we’ve actually gone over time….”

Student: “I have one more question about my lit review…grammar…APA….”

Me: “We really have to stop now, I have another student waiting…..”

Student: “But…..”

Me: “Sorry…” (standing up to provide more obvious signal to student, since words obviously aren’t working)

Hooves on the Rooves?

I know that roof is misspelled, but I’m taking creative license with that one, just to kid around. No snow here and the music is great on my favorite jazz station. Clancy is tracking Santa’s route, which is way cute! Perhaps there’s a poem or two coming on….my Christmas present!

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Emily Dickinson at a Writing Workshop

This is priceless. The blog of Writers Write, a program offering writing courses in South Africa, has posted a draft of one of Emily Dickinson’s poems with feedback from her (fictional) instructor.

Here is the link:

http://writerswrite.co.za/what-if-emily-dickinson-attended-a-writing-workshopProgram

I wonder whether Emily would have returned to the workshop, kept on with her writing and continued to believe in herself? Hope that ink wasn’t red!

 

Confessions #2

Joe at 5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months has written another humorous and honest post about writing characters with emotional authenticity (my paraphrase). Thanks Joe, for your reflection and for motivating me in developing my own characters!

5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months

Joe’s Post # 51

After the post about writing sex scenes, I realized that I may have another problem. A bigger one. (Stop giggling!)

Maybe the challenge with writing sizzling sex scenes is connecting to the actual EMOTION of the scene. 

Oh, boy. Emotions… that’s ah, feelings, right? I think so. 

It’s not that I don’t feel things. If I cut my finger, it hurts and that’s a feeling, isn’t it? If it’s cold, I feel cold. See… feelings. I have them.

Manga_emotions-ENOk, I know there’s more. I certainly feel more. Guilt. Sorrow. Happiness. Anger. Hate. Love. Usually I have all those emotions on a drive into town. Or after a good taco. But I know if there’s one thing I need to work on when writing, it’s living inside the emotional being that is my character. 

Oddly enough, it seems that we don’t live our real lives by…

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