Tag Archives: workshops

Creative writing a la Monday

10 Aug

Okay,

Who stole the weekend when I wasn’t looking? I am in serious brain drain mode after a great great weekend. As promised, I attended Judy Reeves marathon creative writing workshop. 10 a.m  to 5 p.m. Which for me was more like 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (this includes the shlep to San Diego and the not-so-pleasant traffic on the way back). But TOTALLY worth it.

A great room, full of great women (and two guys). I think there were about 15 or so of us, all of whom seemed either impressed that I’d come from LA or considered I was quite barmy. Or perhaps a harmonious combination of both? Either way I had a blast.

Judy is great – inspiring, fun, focusing on the theme of Summer this summery day. We wrote for three minutes, five minutes, 12 minutes, 17 minutes – depending on the prompt. We worked on poems together, wrote alone, read our work out loud, drew inspiration from sights sounds and smells in the street, postacards handed out, little slips of coloured paper.. AND we received cute party favours – a plastic cup with a crazy straw, a cute fan. There were beautiful sunflowers on the table, along with much needed sugar fortification – red vines, M&M’s, trail mix, cherries, little cup cakes. Yum!

But best of all was the writing. Lots of fun, an amazing array of voices in the class – some funny, some sad. Truly incredible how you can come up with vastly different stories from the same prompt. ‘Twas fun, if not a little exhausting.

Here is just ONE piece I wrote in that class. Judy read out three separate prompts at three minute intervals, and we just had to keep writing and incorporate the next prompt into our writing.

The first prompt was: On the inside. We wrote for three minutes and then she threw out the second prompt: a recurring dream. Another three minutes of writing and the final prompt: someone is playing the piano

HERE’S MY STORY

This is  hallowed space. Here where we prep, wash and cleanse your body. Here is where we will wipe away the scars of your smashed remains and make you beautiful once more so we can send you pristine and perfect into the next world. Back, back, back you go. Sweat soaked, crying uncontrollably, you cannot breathe.  They’ve come to get you; blow you to smithereens, blow you out of this world and steal your birthright. You were born to play the piano but the walls are way too thin. The neighbours complain. You can hear them:

“What do I have to do to get some peace and quiet around here? Those bloody scales. Up and down, up and down. Why don’t they just let the kid take drawing classes?”

“Hey,” you hear him say in his deep baritone. “It could be worse. The brat could be learning to play the violin.”

“I don’t care,” she shoots back. “I just wish he were dead.”

And now you are.

Okay, so it’s not particularly sunny, but then again, I’m not the sunniest person in the world either. Blame my subconscious!

Alright, here’s a happier one. The prompt was: A summer storm

Hail! Hail!

The bullets rain down thick and fast heralding another smashing Sydney summer.

Spitting and cursing on the prefabricted roofs of the box-like classrooms,  inside the children suffer and squirm, waiting, waiting for the bell to toll. And they don’t even know who John Donne is.

But it doesn’t matter. The break, the fault line that runs between the slow, languid build up of dark musky humidity — sometimes days in the making — and the heavens’ release, pushed to breaking point, puffing out their cheeks and holding their breath until they can no longer contain themselves or sustain their glee.

imagesThe gumball-sized icicles devolve into the pavement, scattering rainbow puddles, bouncing along like marbles in a penny arcade. They peel down the hill as the bell peals for recess and 35 chairs scrape back in unision; tiny feet head for the door and tumble into the courtyard.

“Wait!” the teacher cries. “Take your raincoats.”

But they don’t hear. They don’t care. All they want is to fling off their lace-up shoes, twirl their socks in the air and skip between those delicious, icy, dancing, donuts.

We wrote much more on lots of different things, but that’s enough for now I think.

It’s Monday again, and I’m scrounging for work. Thrilled that I got two articles out (nope, three) last week. My latest can be viewed here: It’s the story on Max Said Yes about Woodstock (mentioned in an earlier post).

Now I must dredge up some more pitches for other papers, magazines etc. And now I’m excited to write some more fiction.

How’s the website you ask? Coming along, coming along…. All will be revealed soon,

Happy Monday everyone!

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Frazzled on Friday

31 Jul

39The work week may be drawing to a close, but my body seems to think it’s already the weekend. Off to a sluggish start today after a brilliant night last night with the child star and her b/f who came round for dinner. Lots of chatting and discussing and plotting and planning. All in all a good evening.

I submitted a completed article to my editor in NY yesterday but have some tweaks to make on the piece now after reading her feedback. Shouldn’t be too difficult, just need to rework some things but I’ll be doing that this weekend.

I’ve spent so much of this week looking for courses, competitions, figuring out which fiction mags to subscribe to etc. that I need to get back to focusing on actually doing some more fiction writing. I’m spending my weekend with Stephen King’s On Writing, which I’ve read several times but it’s a fantastic book and always inspires me when I’m feeling sluggish, and flexing my fictitious muscles with Roberta Allen’s five minute fiction prompts from her book Fast Fiction (which I’ve written about before on this blog). Can’t wait! I’ve discovered that many of my short stories come out of goodness knows where. I actually wrote about a dirt poor little African American girl in the deep South, something that has certainly not come from my personal memory banks. I’ve written about the Kalahari desert and multi-national corporations, divorced parents and talking castles in my fiction. No idea what is going on in my brain, but I’ve discovered I don’t like to think too hard about what to write, because when I do I seem to draw a blank when I say “What should I write about?” Then I go down that slippery slope of “I have nothing to say!” which of course isn’t true. So, more “leaving myself alone” this weekend to pull strange writing tricks out of my head.

In the meantime, with August 1 hovering on our doorstep, I’m hoping that the slow morass of July will soon be nothing more than a  31-day memory and the job boards will be filled with writing, editing, reporting, blogging positions just waiting for me to dive into and bolster my ever-depleting bank account. Bring on August, I say! Bring on the work!

More yoga stretching today – it’s taken almost a week for my body to recuperate from that masochistic gym class.

Exhausted

Wishing all writers a great weekend. Oh, I will also work this weekend on harnessing  yesterday’s BIG idea…

PS. I LOVE the TGIF picture at the top of my blog – but did you notice the typo????? Just wanted to let you know that as a writer, yes I did see it, but the picture was too cute to take down. Aesthetics over accuracy?