Friday, August 31, 2018

Writing Tip Takeaways from the 2018 HippoCamp CNF Conference

By Joanne Lozar Glenn

I returned from the HippoCamp Creative Nonfiction Conference late Sunday night. It was inspiring, at times overwhelming, and most of all a nurturing conference that offered thoughtful---and practical---perspectives on craft and on the writing life.

Here are some takeaways, organized as uncommon solutions to common writing problems. I hope you find at least one you can put into practice right away!

When you fear telling your truth is a betrayal: "I can tell you the morality of a book lies in its motivation. Compassion is a writer's greatest asset, our greatest guard against betrayal. May your truth be forgiving...that is the only way it will not betray." --Beth Kephart, "No Truth Like the Real Truth"

 When you're having trouble understanding an object / place / character: Try doodling/drawing it from every angle, up close and far away, and make notes. See both light and shadow. --Rebecca Fish Ewan, "Drawing for Wordies"

When you worry that your life/story is too "quiet" or conflict-free to be interesting: Think of conflict as a trajectory rather than a problem to be solved...what is it that calls for change and creates movement through the story? --Kate Meadows, "The Quiet Memoir"

When you're stuck: Think in terms of three sections. They don't have to make chronological sense. Strive for emotional sense. --Abigail Thomas, Keynote

When you're having trouble staying focused on a book-length project: Write yourself a long elaborate subtitle that includes all the key points you intend to cover, and keep it close as you revise. As the story takes shape, write really detailed chapter summaries so you can keep track of what's happening. --Lisa Romeo, "Reconstruction: Transforming Essays into a Narrative Memoir Manuscript"

When you're finding it hard to be productive: Try the Pomodoro technique. Tell yourself you only have to work on X for 25 minutes. Set a timer. Go! Take a break, rinse, and repeat. --Jodi Sh. Doff, "The Virtual Writers Room"

When you realize there's a gap between the kind of writing you like and what you want your work to look like: Realize you'll grow into this process---as long as you do the volumes of work required to get there. --Amma Marfo, "Cultivating Creativity in Your Craft"


Writer-editor-educator Joanne Lozar Glenn leads writing groups and destination writing retreats. She is a fellow of the Ohio Writing Project, a certified AWA facilitator, and a co-author of Memoir Your Way: Tell Your Story Through Writing, Recipes, Quilts, Graphic Novels, and More (Skyhorse, 2016). Her work has been published in Beautiful Things (River Teeth), Peregrine, Hippocampus, Brevity, and other print and online journals.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On Writing: When the "Dark Place" Has You by the Throat

Here’s an essay I wrote about a dark writing time in my not-so-distant past, originally published in the Delmarva Review, and now online, thanks to their partnership with the Spy publications:

Enticing excerpt:
For several years, I had been in a different sort of dark place, the one where every other writer in America had a new book being rave-reviewed and winning A Major Award. I had written a beautiful novel that had been rejected by every publisher in America. This was actually the second novel in a row I had written to be rejected by every publisher in America. The notes from my agent were getting brief. Because I’d focused on writing novels, I didn’t have many short stories to send around for a possible hit of lit journal publication, and anyway, the short stories I did have had been rejected by every literary journal in America. My favorite things about my writing life then were leading workshops, making pronouncements about writing, and watching students improve under my sharp eye. I can still teach, I thought, at least there’s that.

Read the rest:

(And I'll add that the story in question is included in THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST: "Chapter Ten: An Index of Food (Draft).")

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fall Events

I don't know why I'm thinking ahead to fall when it's 1000 degrees outside with 1000% humidity, but...oh. That's exactly why. Anyway, here are some upcoming fall classes and readings on my to see you at one, more, all--and let's hope we'll be wearing sweaters by then!


Thursday, October 11, 2018
4:30pm - 5:45pm
“Wanting More: Coming of Age Novels”
Reading with Jon Pineda
Fall for the Book Festival
George Mason University
Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center North Plaza
More information about the Fall for the Book festival.


Saturday, October 13, 2018
Master Class: Find Your Creative Voice: Creating Memorable Fiction and Memoir
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA
Have you always wanted to write but couldn’t quite find the courage to pick up a pencil? Or perhaps you’re a secret writer, scribbling stories in private notebooks, compulsively filling the pages of your journal? This supportive, hands-on workshop with Leslie Pietrzyk will give you courage to write and direction about how to proceed. Through discussion and writing exercises, participants will learn some basic techniques of fiction/memoir writing. The goal is to leave with a couple of promising pieces to finish at home. (This event is in conjunction with the Fall for the Book festival.)

More information about the Fall for the Book festival.


Monday October 15, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Right Brain Writing: Material Goods
Politics & Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Explore your creative side in this session, one of a series of stand-alone classes with prompts designed to get your subconscious flowing. Through guided exercises, we’ll focus on writing about the variety of items we own or have owned along the path of our lives. Can we love a “thing”? What happiness (or sadness) might “things” bring? No writing experience necessary! This is a great class for beginners and also for those fiction writers and/or memoirists with more experience who might be stuck in their current projects and are looking for a jolt of inspiration. Our goal is to have fun in a supportive, nurturing environment and to go home with several promising pieces to work on further.  Please bring lots of paper and pen/pencil or a fully charged computer. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2018
7 pm
Mary Riley Styles Public Library
120 N. Virginia Ave.
Falls Church, VA


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.