I’ve been slow to post again, mostly because I’ve been busy hustling to relaunch a workshop organization called the St. Louis Writers Workshop. After inheriting it from its founder and my friend, Denise Bogard, I’ve spent the fall updating the website, having a new logo designed, recruiting instructors, and learning about things like W9’s and 1099’s and business bank accounts and buying advertising and, well, you get the picture. My plate stays pretty full with taking care of my family (which includes two teenage boys) and writing, but I have to admit that teaching has become a valuable part of my life. The weird thing about teaching as a writer is that you find yourself looking at things from different angles, from different points of view you hadn’t considered before. Plus, it’s exciting to be in a room full of people who are as enamored with the written word as I am, who have taken those first steps in trying to figure the mystery of what it is we do, how we make meaning in fiction and poetry and essay. In truth, I’m learning right along with my students and directing St. Louis Writers Workshop gives me the opportunity to keep on doing just that, while also having more freedom to explore and offer the opportunities I think my local writing community needs most. Beyond that, since we’re offering one-on-one coaching, as well, this means I can work with writers who aren’t in the St. Louis metro area, too. How cool is that? If you’re so inclined, hop on over to the STLWW website and see the classes being offered this winter 2016 in short story writing (me), flash-fiction (Heather Luby), and poetry (Emily Grise). Maybe you’ll join us?
I’ve wanted to be in the college classroom for years–as a teacher, rather than a student–and tonight I’m getting my chance. This evening will begin my 4-week course, “Writing the Short Story” (Tuesdays at the Meramec campus from 7-9:30). On October 26, from 9am-2pm, I’ll be conducting a non-workshop course in which I will try to condense into a short, user-friendly format all those things I’ve learned about the writing world over the last 10 years or so. No prob, right? Uh, right. But, seriously, if you’re looking to sort your way through the maze of writing conferences, workshops, journals, online sources, MFA programs and more, then come join me. Sign up info is found through the link that’s right HERE:
I returned on Saturday from a week-long writing conference that was totally worth it. I’ve been disappointed by such conferences in the past, but this one was different. Having spent five years (you read that right–I took the long road) in an MFA program, I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to “workshop” again, but by mid-winter this past year, I realized that I missed this aspect to writing and the writers community. I knew I didn’t want to join a writing group again, but I needed feedback on a first chapter I had recently completely re-written. The Taos Summer Writers Conference hosts a number of writing workshops of all levels, taught by some literary heavy hitters: Robert Boswell (my literary superhero), his amazing wife, Antonya Nelson, Wally Lamb, Pam Houston, Joy Harjo, just to name a few. My own instructor for the novel-in-progress was Laura Brodie, a writer of both novels and non-fiction. Her workshop was smart, wise, compassionate, funny, and practical. My peers were archeologists, medical doctors, psychiatrists, English professors, event planners, military air pilots, grad students and…housewives (that would be me). I’ve rarely been in a more interesting workshop group, one that was both smart and critical of work presented, but also kind and open-minded. And how can you go wrong in Taos? The dry air and mountains and sunshine, which were all *really* great once I got over the altitude sickness, complete with a short episode of vomiting, made the experience all the more positive. My hope is to return to this conference again, but participate in one of the master’s classes for the novel (requiring a fully completed manuscript). Check out this year’s schedule of events: