|A loverly bunch of writer-nuts.|
I recently attended a writers’ workshop, the first I’d ever been to. I know, it’s hard to believe, but in all my years of working as a writer I’ve never attended a workshop. I’ve been to newspaper conferences and one writers’ conference (years ago in Albuquerque hosted by Southwest Writers), but never to a workshop. The Green River Writer’s Workshop was intimate, energizing and inspiring, and the only people who will understand the title of this post are the people who were there… at least I hope they will get it.
Interestingly the energy and inspiration didn’t come from writing, which one would expect from a writers’ workshop. It came from participants, all of whom were writing in different genres, some for publication, some for the pure pleasure of writing, and from event facilitators, Alice Winston Carney, Gerald Hausman and Lorry Hausman.
Initially I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to write more, but I found the discussions interesting and thought provoking, and I loved hearing people read their work. I would have liked a little more of that, but with 13 attendees and three days to work with, time was at a premium.
The comments following each reading were intended to be targeted on the writing—what works, what doesn’t, what you like, what could have been written more clearly—but we did go off on tangents that also gave us food for thought.
The variety of writing and the background of those attending added flavor to a stew of enlightening experiences. We even had a fellow from Japan, Kenji Okuhira, who is on the brink of having his photo book published, Floating Stone : 21 Thoughts of Kenji Miyazawa. The book is translated by Gerald Hausman and Kenji. These sayings are beautiful, a word that seems lacking when you see the book with its stunning photos and the Japanese characters that mirror the English translation. It is more than a book; it’s a work of art.
Others were working on memoirs, works of fiction and poetry. Another author, Fran Jenner, will have her book published by fall.
Her tale is of 12 year-old Savannah and her family, who are uprooted because of failed farm land in Missouri, and hopes for a better life 2000 miles away in California. It’s 1850 and the journey will take months in a covered wagon pulled by oxen. Prairie Journey tells of Savannah’s resistance to change and the story of her long journey, during which she discovers the trail’s hardships and perils hold a gift for her she never imagined. When Prairie Journey is published I hope to have Fran on the air to talk about the book, which she has devoted ten years of her life to writing.
A highlight of the workshop was a book signing at Tome on the Range featuring the Green River Anthology of stories. Among the featured writers are four Las Vegans: Petey Salman, Joseph Baca, Carole Gonynor and Maggie Romigh. The other authors are Lyn Searfoss, Ursula Nizalowski, Megan Carney, Mary Kate McTeigue, Elizabeth Sieren, Jo-Ellen Bosson, Jane Janson, Ana June, Frances Bonney Jenner, Laura Ice, Gayanne Leachman, Virginia Kidd and Jean Whitehead.
It was a delight to hear the authors read their work and receive high praise from the audience. The stories are as varied as the authors, each “turning memory into story,” in unique and entertaining ways.
My thanks to Alice, Gerry and Lorry for their skillful facilitation, and to my fellow workshop attendees: Patty Buckley, Lin Chibante, Carole Gonynor, Fran Jenner, Alice Kolb, George Kolb, Ron Maltais, Kenji Okuhira, Chris Reidel, Petey Salman, Lynn Searfoss, and Sevigne. I learned something from all of you, and the best part is creating new relationships with other people as crazy as I am, writing and loving it.
Thanks as well to Mina Yamashita, who discussed her memoir about growing up Japanese American following World War II. She is a writer, graphic designer and creative spirit. Her insight into tools for e-publishing puts into perspective what it takes to get one’s work into digital print. Among her recommendations was smashwords.com, a user-friendly model for uploading and managing text for e-book publication.
I hope to attend future workshops, this one and others. The benefit comes more from listening than from talking, which I have found in life is usually the case.
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