I have probably spent too much time crafting a class on Creative Nonfiction for a two-hour Saturday afternoon workshop. I can’t help it. This stuff gets me wound up. And the information – the books and notes and binders splayed out before me – is all so good, so relevant.
That’s a daunting task.
I have been diving headlong into writing workshops lately, developing a sort of smorgasbord of classes and exercises with the hopes of getting writers and non-writers alike fired up about telling real life stories. Creative Nonfiction 101 brought 14 people to The Writer’s Place in Kansas City, among them a veterinarian who wants to spice up her blog about animals and animal care, a Paraguay native who is interested in making academic writing more palateable and a retired woman who is fixated on true crime.
I kid you not, this sentence was part of the conversation around our workshop table: “I hired a serial killer once.”
The swelled hush in the room, I believe, represented one uniform thought. Does he mean he hired a serial killer to kill someone, or did he hire a serial killer without realizing who the killer was?
The pause did push him to explain himself, and the explanation was followed by the cacophony of relieved laughter.
I don’t have to think hard to nail down why I love developing and leading these workshops: 1) I get to talk about subjects that are deeply passionate to me with people who share the interest; and 2) The wild diversity of people I encounter, complete with their writerly ambitions, conundrums, and widely varied life experiences, satiates my need to meet people on more than just a surface level and probe the universal truths about humanity.
Today, I drive to St. Joseph, MO, to join 10 patrons of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library for a workshop called, “Effective Manuscript Critiquing.” I found myself talking out loud in excitement as I developed this workshop, recalling my own moments in graduate school around big rectangular tables peppered with drafts of other writers’ work. Our workshop instructor, Mark Sundeen (author of The Man Who Quit Money – Riverhead Books 2012), laid out the rules of the critiquing session. The No. 1 rule: When your piece is up for critique, you are not allowed to speak.
Talk about tough. But today, I get to explain why this act of silence is important. And once again, I have the fabulous opportunity to engage in a conversation about writing and expressing ourselves with people who deeply share those interests.
The summer calendar is quickly filling up with exciting writing-related endeavors, and I would love for you join me in one if you find something on my Events page that seems like a good fit. You can also request a workshop, an informal chat about writing, or a customized reading event for your book group, mom’s or dad’s club, or senior or community center here.
One final note: Welcome to the NEW SITE! Stay tuned for a special launch event in June, with some fun giveaways!