"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Friday, January 21, 2022

My February in Tahoe literary highlights

This evening I wanted to make sure I didn't miss these literary events happening in February right here in our own little world of winter! 

The SNU Writers in the Woods reading series offers an incredible lineup of 3 writers this winter and the next reading is Feb 4th at 5 pm Pacific time in the land of Zoom. Gina Frangello is the author of four books of fiction, most recently A Life With Men, which is now under development as a series on Netflix. Her debut memoir, Blow Your House Down, was released in April 2021 to a blaze of rave reviews. Every Kind of Wanting was included by both Chicago Magazine and The Chicago Review of Books as one of the “Best Books of 2016.”

Gina will also be offering a workshop Saturday morning from 10-noon the morning after her reading. What I love about this series is that after an evening of immersing in the mind, sensibility, and language of a writer, I can then find inspiration in their unique teaching styles during these generative writing workshops. They are open to the public, free during Covid, and productive for any level of experienced writer.

The Sierra Writers Conference 2022 is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Feb 10-12. The theme this year is Stories Matter: (Re) Imagining Past and Future and appropriately, 100% of the conference is online. Among many other workshops and discussions over these three days, here are the daily keynote presenters:

Thursday 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Keynote AddressKirsten Casey
A Constellation of Words: Poetry and Beyond 

For those of you that visited Kirsten Casey and myself at our workshop table upstairs at the Raley's local artists event this summer, you'll remember how positive and inspiring she is as a writer and a teacher!

Friday 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Keynote AddressNisi Shawl
Building Inclusive Fictional Histories 

Saturday 3:00-4:00 p.m. | Keynote AddressKim Stanley Robinson
Writing a Good Anthropocene

I've just picked up Robinson's latest novel, The Ministry of the Future, to start reading before this address. I loved an earlier novel of his, Aurora. This newest novel was actually recommended reading for participants of the climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. In Bloomberg this past October, 2021, in preparation for his speaking at the COP26, Robinson wrote:  

    The court jester often says things people need to hear, from angles no-one else would think of. Those     in power listen for amusement and crazy insight.This is one way of describing the role science fiction     performs in our culture. It hearkens back to the ancient prophets, famously disregarded in their own        country but listened to for a simple reason: they speak from the future. We’re always interested in the     future. It’s a distinctively human trait. 

So I hope to see you at some of these literary events, maybe in the chat, maybe in a tiny square on my screen, or even better, reach out to me or another writer and get together for a walk or ski to revive our collective creative energy : )


Thursday, January 6, 2022

2022, instant tests, big storms, and how to understand our intimate relationship with writing

All week I've been carrying around the three folded up pages I printed out New Year's Eve from the New York Times. The article, Making These Resolutions Can Improve a Relationship, seems to outline exactly the kinds of questions I want to write from as I assess this past year. 

But conversations with friends about how many instant Covid tests they have at home or when the next shipment arrives at CVS or who thinks they have an exposure have dominated my attention. And then we were blessed with those beautiful fierce storms so I could shovel instead of write. I love that feeling of satisfied exhaustion after a day spent playing in the snow, shoveling, meeting new neighbors, and helping them get their cars unstuck. Nothing better than curling up in a storm on the sofa with Netflix.

Here's some of those questions about this past year from the article:

  • What were the highlights or big moments of joy you experienced? 
  • What were the lowest points and what was that like for you? 
  • How can we make meaning from what we've gone through?  
  • How do you want to reconnect with family and friends you might not have seen because of the pandemic?
  • What are your financial objectives and purchases?

Although the article specifically focuses on romantic relationships, whose to say our relationship to writing as writers is not an intimacy or a romance? 

So join me if you want in journaling on these questions above and consider that your writing practice or your writing is your partner. The final part of the article suggests creating rituals that create positive emotions you can associate with your partner. Most of my writing rituals have been tossed out the window with the pandemic, so one of my resolutions is to find just one or two rituals I can create. A ritual can be simply a repeated activity. 

Here are some of my writing rituals: