Posted by: Viola | May 31, 2015

Friday at the 2015 SummerWords Creative Writing Festival

Friday (yesterday) was the first full day of the conference/festival. The schedule was packed with wonderful workshops, and at times, it was hard choosing which one to go to.

9:15 – 9:45 am — Complimentary continental breakfast in the Student Center lobby. Delicious scones, muffins, pastries, organe juice, and tea/coffee.

10:00 am — The day started off at 10 am. Participants went to their assigned “homeroom” to meet with a faculty member who would give a basic introduction and orientation to the conference events and campus. My homeroom was with Professor Merson. I enjoyed his introduction very much. I loved the activity he had us start with.

Professor Merson asked each of us to take a sheet of paper and write down on that paper what we were worried about. We each made lists of the things weighing on our minds. My list was quite long. I am always worried about something or another. After making our lists, he asked us to crumple up the sheets of paper. He had placed a trash bin in the center of the circle we were sitting in. He told us to toss our crumpled pieces of papers into the bin. We aimed them and hurled them at the bin. Most of us missed. But some fell right in. He said not to bother. Just throw them at the bin, whether they landed in or not. He said we could now move on, ready to tackle the work ahead, without carrying along all our fears and anxieties.

It was great to let go of my fears in this way. This is something I would like to do each time I sit down to write. It’s not something I’ve ever done, physically, though I try to do so mentally. But now I know what I can do whenever I want to release my old fears and inhibitions and just write.

11:30 am — My first workshop of the day was with poet Traci Gourdine. Her workshop titled “A Poem is Not a Selfie” explored the ways in which we cannot simply make our poems about ourselves. We have to be able to turn them outward, to shift the narrator’s gaze to other subjects and not just the self that is speaking. We must do this to connect to readers, to bring them into the experience of the poem, to make what we write relevant and accessible to others.

12:45 pm — LUNCH 🙂

2:00 pm — My next workshop was with Cathy Arellano, also a poet. Her workshop titled “Bustin’ Out of the Funk” reconsidered the enriching possibilities of tangents, deviating from our focus in order to gain new insights and inspiration for our poems. She invited us to wander around and broaden our sources of creative subject matter. We looked at postcards and photos and wrote about them. We created our own “lotteria” boards and wrote about them. We wrote down song titles and arranged them into poems. We wrote poems with nothing but questions. We listened to various types of music and wrote poems capturing each type of music or each song (I enjoyed this very much, my favorite prompt she gave us).

3:30 pm — My final workshop to attend for the day was with fiction writer Jodi Angel. Her workshop titled ” The 500-Word Sentence” was all about pushing our writing forward whenever we feel stuck. By throwing out “periods/full-stops” and just writing one long, seemingly endless sentence, we can liberate ourselves and our character(s) to speak. We let go of the brakes and can write a descriptive and lengthy paragraph that gives us enough material for a section of a short story or chapter or maybe even a complete narrative. We practiced by generating our own 500-word sentence during the workshop and some participants got to read theirs out loud to the rest of us. A neat and great tool to have when next I write a short story (and I have written a few short stories since last summer, so I can see myself doing more fiction-writing these days, whenever a story idea or character strikes me).

5:15 pm — The final event of the day was a reading by two fiction writers, Edan Lepucki and Christian Kiefer. Both speakers/readers were introduced by fiction writer Jason Sinclair Long. Edan Lepucki read an excerpt from her new novel California. Christian Kiefer read from his new novel The Animals. I enjoyed both readings and also, the surprise treat for us from Christian Kiefer after his reading. He sand a song. He has a gorgeous voice. He is one of those artists who is so multi-talented. He is a writer and a musician. Very sweet note on which to end the first full day of the 2015 SummerWords Creative Writing festival.

There was wine, cheese, bread/crackers, grapes and strawberries available in the theater lobby after the reading. ❤


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