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David R. Collins' 2014 Writers' Conference

June 26, 27 & 28


Novel as Discovery
June 26, 27, & 28    8:45-10:15 am
Presenter: Jac Jemc

Novel as Discovery—Think you need a solid outline before you take on the task of writing a novel? In this workshop, we'll explore alternative methods of generating material and sussing out narrative. Follow the tangents! Explore your characters! Find the intersection of multiple storylines! Let the language lead you! By freeing yourself from your own preconceptions of how to sustain a story for the length of a novel, you'll be able to more quickly and organically reach the goal of a solid first draft.
Flash Fiction: A Liminal Genre
June 26, 27, & 28    3:30-5:00 pm
Presenter: Chad Simpson
Flash Fiction: A Liminal Genre—While it might be argued that flash fiction is merely a story told briefly, in fewer than 750 or 1000 words, the more I read and write in this genre, the more I've come to believe it navigates its own terrain, located somewhere between poetry and fiction. In this workshop, we will read flash fictions and attempt to ascertain which elements of story the pieces contain, and which ones are absent. In doing so, we will begin to answer questions relevant to what makes a story a story, a flash a flash. Participants will also be given prompts to write their own flash fictions, which they will share with the group.
Time is on Your Side: Structuring Your Book-Length Memoir
June 26, 27, & 28    10:30 am-Noon
Presenter: Kelly Daniels
Time is on Your Side: Structuring Your Book-Length Memoir—You’ve got a great story, but where to start? Where to end? What to put in the middle? The art of memoir is the art of choosing, arranging, amplifying, summarizing, and cutting…in short, it’s the art of manipulating time. In this workshop, we will practice basic strategies for structuring your memoir. The courses will consist of discussion and writing exercises. In these exercises, we will:
• Evaluate your real-life material to decide whether any given moment should be presented as a vivid scene, a passage of narrative summary, or be cut entirely.
• Dissect time and reorder it. We may start in media-res, or start at the end. We may tell the story backwards, forward, chronologically, thematically, or in shattered fragments.
• Practice pacing: from hurtling at light speed to slowing to the speed of a slug. Some stories encompass generations; others take place in a single day. If you don’t learn to master time, time will master your book.
Come to the workshop with a story idea, an entire draft, or something in between. Leave with a detailed outline for how to write or rewrite your story, from beginning to end.
The Ecstatic Essay
June 26, 27, & 28    1:45-3:15 pm
Presenter: Rachel Yoder

The Ecstatic Essay—In 1999 Austrian documentarian and essayist Werner Herzog outlined his aesthetic philosophy in a document called The Minnesota Declaration. In the twelve points of this declaration, he renounced Cinema Verite—a style of documentary filmmaking characterized by its so-called “objective,” observational truth—by stating that “it reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.” He defines his own work and aesthetic by explaining “…there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.” In this three-day course, we’ll examine essays that invoke, dream, revel, pray, sing, and babble in service to this Herzogian notion of “ecstatic truth.” In these ecstatic essays by authors such as Annie Dillard, Walt Whitman, Mary Ruefle, Samuel Beckett, Marguerite Duras, and Antonin Artaud we’ll parse how each author uses fabrication, imagination, and stylization—among other techniques and approaches—to communicate real experience, telegraph emotional states of being, and begin to explore truths that are largely unspeakable. In this class we’ll read, and write, and try, and share, and fail, and try again. Writing exercises may involve anything and everything, including but not limited to visits from psychics, feats of strength, alchemic experimentation, and years of silent meditation. How can we possibly write this insane, gorgeous, transcendent experience we call life? The gauntlet is hereby thrown down.
The Art of the Confessional Poem: Come On, Baby, Make It Hurt So Good
June 26, 27, & 28    10:30 am-Noon
Presenter: Adam Fell
The Art of the Confessional Poem: Come On, Baby, Make It Hurt So Good—Works of art that shape us, that forever alter our bodies and minds, that force us into closely examining the depths of our own souls and existences on earth, are both extremely rare and one of the most transcendent forms of human communication. Our bodies know when a work of art speaks to us before our minds know why or our mouths can form the words to explain. In this poetry workshop, we will try to find the words to dissect and discuss several poems where the author is clearly attempting to exorcise the demons that have come to roost inside them. We will discuss form, content, biography, and the poetic and musical tools the poets use to translate these vast, amazing emotions into language (an impossible task we someone so often pull off). We will read work by Sylvia Plath, James Wright, Etheridge Knight, Guillaume Apollinaire, Mina Loy, Yusef Komunyakaa, and more. We’ll also dive head first into some confessional writing of our own, working our way through writing exercises meant to nudge us into writing about the feelings and experiences that mean the most to us.
Free Workshop for Everyone
An Evening with Jen Karsbaek of Foreword Literary Agency
June 27     7:00-8:00 pm Midwest Writing Center
Presenter: Jen Karsbaek
Attendance is strongly recommended if you are planning to pitch to Ms. Karsbaek


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