Monday, August 29, 2011

Deb: Let the fall fun begin


Our 49 Writers Goodbye Summer party for members and volunteers is only two days away (Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 8:30, after the Crosscurrents event), so it must be safe to talk about fall.  If we do say so ourselves, there’s a fantastic 49 Writers line-up of affordable courses to tempt both emerging and accomplished writers this fall.  We’ve tapped talented local instructors Andromeda Romano-Lax and Susanna Mishler, and we’ve scheduled four out-of-state authors to round out the show – plus we’ve teamed up with the Fairbanks Arts Association to bring a non-fiction workshop to Fairbanks.

Our course offerings fit (more or less; we like to stay flexible) into one of three categories:  Elements courses that are generally 6 to 8 hours long; genre-based workshops that typically run 12 to 15 hours; and special topics that are normally covered in a single session of 2 or 3 hours. 

Elements courses include cross-genre topics like character, voice, narrative structure, point of view, description, beginnings, revision, and narrative time.  In workshops, students draft and revise within their genres. While we hope all of our courses are feisty and fun, our special topics courses are intended to be especially so, with an exploratory bent.  

This term brings two engaging Elements courses, Time in Narration and Perspectives and Viewpoints, both taught by Andromeda Romano-Lax, a well-published writer of both fiction and non-fiction.  In three Tuesday evening sessions beginning Oct. 4, she’ll explore narrative time management, one of the most overlooked yet essential elements of creative writing: linear and non-linear storytelling, jumping and shifting, compression and expansion, flashbacks, parallel story lines, experimental approaches, and time and memory as subject. Students will write and share short writing exercises, and they’ll analyze successful examples from published works as they consider how to manipulate time more creatively and purposefully.

We’ve scheduled Perspectives and Viewpoints to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 25 so that students can move from one Elements course into the next if they like.  In this course Romano-Lax will review all the basics and terms, from first-person to third-person, objective, subjective, and omniscient, and she’ll discuss how classic and contemporary works differ in their POV strategies. The course will also look most closely at what introductory approaches and texts leave out: subtleties of psychic distance, transitioning between points of view, and how POV creates character. Students will investigate what their default strategies are and why, and explore when and how to stretch their own POV muscles in new directions.

Ned Rozell’s Nonfiction Workshop is another Tuesday night offering, but he’ll be teaching at the Bear Gallery in Fairbanks.  In this workshop, students will respond to each other's works-in-progress (10 pages or less distributed a week in advance) under the guidance of Rozell, one of Alaska’s best-known science writers. They'll also discuss anthologized non-fiction excerpts, focusing on the craft and intent of each piece, and they'll identify the non-fiction techniques and determine whether they are serving or inhibiting the selection's overall design.

Anchorage nonfiction enthusiasts have an intense weekend option with Leslie Hsu Oh’s Truth or Dare: Nonfiction Techniques beginning Friday evening, Oct. 7, and wrapping up on Sunday, Oct. 9.   Accomplished nonfiction writer Hsu Oh will guide writers of creative non-fiction through some of the tough and controversial calls about what to say and how to say it. In this workshop, they’ll find out how to handle techniques that can get you in trouble as you experiment with memoir, profile, literary journalism, and other hybrids such as the lyric or mosaic essay.  Formerly of Eagle River, Hsu Oh will be traveling back from Washington, DC for this weekend workshop.

In celebration of Alaska Book Week, we’re offering two “writing life” special topics courses on Saturday, Oct. 15.  In the morning, well-published writer Claire Rudolf Murphy of Spokane, WA, on faculty with Hamline University, presents Writing as a Contact Sport, a workshop to help writers reflect on their writing lives and develop ways to adjust their schedules, intention, commitment, support and focus. Through assessments, free writing exercises, and discussion, participants will process and discern their writing life in the areas of focus, discipline, adaptability, being present in the moment, and the push and pull of fear and desire.   

In the afternoon, Melinda Moustakis, on faculty at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, will lead Writing and the Creative Spark, a generative writing session in which students will look at three different ways to spark creativity in their writing by reading published pieces in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry and then using them as inspiration for writing prompts. Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction, Moustakis will help students look at ways to re-imagine point of view, memories, and everyday objects.

For poets, Susanna Mishler is teaching a workshop called Poetry Toolbox: Lines and Tropes on four Saturday afternoons beginning Oct. 22.   In this workshop students will look at some of their tools as poets - the line and the trope. The emphasis will be on trying new things and an appreciation as readers for the tactics at play in a poem. Over the course of the workshop students will build a small 'dictionary' of poetic strategies and examples for all to take home and use. This workshop is for poets looking to hone skills and try out new modes of writing, though ambitious beginners are also welcome.

Last but decidedly not least, acclaimed author David Vann returns to Anchorage for a special topics course that explores the divided protagonist, style, and the use of landscape.  Study with a modern master of craft in Fiction with David Vann on Friday afternoon, Oct. 28 – and trust us, this is worth taking a few hours off work.  Advance readings by William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx, Flannery O'Connor, Marilyn Robinson, and Vladimir Nabokov will be provided. 

So don't delay:  register today.  We keep our courses small, and some do fill quickly.

No comments: