Posted in Craft of writing, fiction, Travel Writing, Workshops, Writing exercises, Writing Workshops

Flash Fiction

The Story Behind the Story 

The story behind a story, I recently had published The City that Stole His Daughter, offers insight into the kind of an exercise that can stoke the imagination of a writer.

The Exercise 

In Rolf Potts‘ course, Travel Writing as Memoir, in October 2019 sponsored by Santa Fe Workshops, he set before us a “pyschogeography” exercise to prompt the imagination as a flaneur, wandering not so aimlessly through the streets of San Miguel de Allende.

We were to select a color — I picked blue. Wander the street to find the first instance of the color while walking the streets and follow it until it disappeared or ran out of sight. Then pick up the next element of blue and follow it until I walked past it or it fell out of sight. Again and again until a story or fragments came into being.

 The Outcome

This process led me to notice a man on a park bench with his hat tipped to shade the sun with a big fat yellow lab asleep underneath. I imagined he had come to the city to see an adult son or daughter who had left the countryside for a better way of life.

I sauntered to a yellow coffee shop with a lavender blue door and shutters, Lavanda, for lemonade and asked for the owner. The manager, Karla, came to visit me about where they purchased their lavender and leapt to the topic of “specialty” coffee.

I recall her excitement as she told me, “Our coffee is fair trade. It is good for the farmer, the roasters, the coffee shop, and our clients. It is a win-win for everyone. It makes a good economy for our community. When asked by customers if our coffee is organic, I must tell that that ‘Yes, it is farmed without pesticides and with the old ways of tilling the fields and harvesting, but sadly no, our government does not regulate for an organic label’.”

When I combined the image of the old man and my imagined story of him with the enthusiasm of Karla about speciality coffee, I had my story.

The Resulting Story

I have submitted the story to contests and for publication several times, revised it each time a bit, and then won honorable mention by WOW! Women on Writing in early 2020 but it was not published. I submitted it for review and feedback by Flash Fiction Magazine and then received substantial recommendations to make changes. They published my 1000-word flash fiction, The City that Stole His Daughter, this week, August 18, 2020. Thanks to Flash Fiction Magazine.

Posted in Craft of writing, Memoir writing, Travel Writing

Story Circle Network Online Writing Classes for, by, and about Women

I invite you to join me, as instructor, and eight other women writers in an online travel writing class, four one-hour classes on Tuesdays, 4-5 CDT, August 4 and 18, September 1 and 15.

Sponsored by Story Circle Network, which offers online writing classes for women throughout the year.

TRAVEL TOUCHSTONES WORKSHOP: MINING THE MAGIC OF YOUR TRAVEL MEMORIES

Description: A touchstone verifies the authenticity of gold or silver. You will write a narrative or essay of 1000-2500 words to carve out rich touchstones you have experienced from travel and then discover and reveal the truth of how travel has changed you in a significant and meaningful way. Then you’ll revise it during the class for a publishable piece. Progressive guidance for revision will be discussed in each class. The group will share their work, review each other’s writing, and each member will complete a revision to make your work ring and sing.

Students who successfully complete this class will be able to:

  1. draft a travel memory into a short story or essay of 1000-2500 words
  2. strengthen with strong nouns and verbs
  3. utilize all five senses in the writing piece
  4. delete unnecessary wording to refine the writing
  5. review and comment on other’s writing to help them improve

For details and to register for the class go to Story Circle Network’s list of classes.

 

 

Posted in Craft of writing, Memoir writing, Travel, Travel Writing, Writing Classes, Writing Groups, Writing Workshops

Online Workshop, “The Call of Far Away Places” sponsored by Story Circle Network

As facilitator, I invite you to the four-week, online workshop, “The Call of Far Away Places: Writing Your Preparation for the Hero’s Journey,” sponsored by Story Circle Network for women only, members and nonmembers alike, scheduled for June 8-July 6.

It will be fun and interactive. In the wake of a pandemic, this workshop may (will likely) take a different turn than I expected, when I developed the class. You may write about travel outwardly and concretely in the past, present, or future, or travel inwardly and metaphorically.

During the four weeks we will explore the Hero’s Journey. You will write an essay or story of 500-2500 words about preparing for a journey, then revise it, have it critiqued by the other writers, and finally polish the piece.

Though online and at a distance, the class will be interactive and flexible to meet your writing level and interests. We will learn with and from each other.

Explore the class and signup here.

Find the gem in your life’s travels, so you can bring it to light and brilliance!
Posted in Craft of writing, Memoir writing, Travel Writing, Writing Retreats, Writing Workshops

Travel Writing as Memoir with Rolf Potts

I wondered what Potts meant by the title, Travel Writing as Memoir? As a student in his Santa Fe Workshop, held in San Miguel de Allende October 13-18, I learn that he meant the writer could impose herself in the writing, rather than standing at a distance and reporting–the reader wants to hear the voice of the writer. He meant we were free to use literary devices, such as writing with imagery, metaphor, foreshadowing, symbolism, and/or humor, among others.

He introduced us to psychogeography and assigned us the task of following a color of our choice through the city to encounter it in a unique way, randomly yet meaningfully. The concept of drifting or wandering the streets of the city aimlessly with the intent to observe with all our senses what the paths of the village had to offer us was the assignment–paradoxical in nature, but highly productive and insightful.

The workshop took my writing to a new level. I better understand how to find an appealing first sentence. I can see more ways to place myself reflectively in an essay about what I experience. And I know how to mine my travel experiences more thoroughly and insightfully through color tracking as a means of psychogeography.

What classes, workshops, or retreats have helped take your writing to a new level? Please share below, so others will find venues to develop their writing.