"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

Thursday, March 31, 2022

6 Ways to Participate in Arts Events in April

April is Arts, Culture & Creativity Month, both in Nevada County and across California. This year’s theme is “The Arts Work”, meaning the Arts heal, build communities, advance justice, empower youth and create jobs. 

April is also National Poetry Month! To celebrate the literary arts, the Sierra Poetry Festival at the Miner’s Foundry in Nevada City on April 30th marks a culmination of a month of free pop up arts events throughout Nevada County.

Here are 6 ways you can participate:

1.     Go to the community pop up events calendar to find FREE opportunities throughout the county for hearing, writing, and sharing music and poetry for all ages.

2.     In Truckee we have several FREE poetry writing workshops, April 1nd, April 8th, and April 18th, and an open mic/poetry slam on April 23rd.

3.     Register for the Sierra Poetry Festival April 30th for a celebration in-person

4.     You can help Nevada County celebrate Arts, Culture & Creativity Month by posting your events on our Community Arts Calendar, choosing from among these these graphics for your websites and printed materials, and by becoming a member of Nevada County Arts Council during April.

5.     Join the following activities alongside Californians for the Arts:

·       ATTEND weekly thematic webinars (every Friday)

·       SIGN UP to be an Advocacy Week Delegate and wait to hear from us with instructions about how to join our calls with local legislators in support of Nevada County’s California Cultural Districts during this important budget season during advocacy week on April 25-29.

6.     SAVE THE DATE on May 9th to attend a Nevada County Board of Supervisors in-person meeting, where we will be thanking the County for its support during the COVID-19 public health crisis, whether through:

·       Its support of anchor creative sector institutions via Economic & Community Resiliency grants as a result of CARES Act funding;

·       Its support of the arts via its Community Resiliency Grants Program as a result of ARPA funds;

·       Its support of the arts through Nevada County Relief Fund

I look forward to seeing you out and about in our arts community! 

Monday, March 28, 2022

What makes a story a story?

Last week in the Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop series, we asked this question. Here are some prompts to help a writer discover the heart of the story. 

[Protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain or obstacle] in order to [protagonist's goal]. 

I can't remember where I originally found this mad libs format for developing a log line for a story. I didn't make it up myself, and I find it so insightful a tool for going deeper into a piece I've written. Sometimes I apply it to a journal entry or a free write that I want to fictionalize into a short story. Sometimes I brainstorm the many different ways to fill in the blanks to try seeing in new ways something I've been looking at for a while already, a story I've returned to in revision. 

We read loglines in every movie or episode we watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Masterpiece Theater. The little blurb describing what this is about, what happens, and why this matters helps a viewer or reader decide if they are curious enough to watch.

When you fill out the mad libs sentence to create your logline, focus on contrasts, paradox, or irony. The description of your protagonist can provide irony or contrast, or it can simply contribute a cliche. What is the possibility of tension and obstacle in the life of a guide losing their eyesight vs. an author with perfect handwriting? This example is overly simplified, but seek out the irony in a situation or a character when creating a logline, and when creating story. 

Consider how different settings for your story can offer different tensions or irony or even a ticking clock for your story. Notice that in the mad lib, you will identify separately a quest from an obstacle or goal. For your character, what matters about each of these elements uniquely? 

Understand what or who is a villain or obstacle in your story so far. Often once you begin to analyze the obstacle, you might realize how much assumption has been made in your own mind about this obstacle. Ask yourself how you can be more particular with how this villain or obstacle affects your character within their setting and time clock. 

And finally, sometimes the verb in the mad lib format is the most difficult to pin down. This verb can determine how or why your character takes action. What is the decision they make in order to take this action, to be in this manner? 

More prompts to free write on your story in development: 

1. What’s your character’s problem or situation? The conflict is at the heart of your story. 

2. Your characters have clear and strong motivations. What do they want? What is at risk or at stake? What choices do they have to make? What obstacles do they face? 

3.What is the internal or inherent time clock? Something that creates a sense of urgency, pressure, or drive. Can you discover a natural time limit that creates tension? 

4. What are the contrasts in your story? Is there a paradox? Irony?

Thursday, March 3, 2022

How do writers get together? An incomplete list of local writer resources


I was talking with some of you after the Submissions and Publication workshop last night (thank you to all who participated and presented!) and realized there are some local writer resources I did not emphasize in the notes. Here are some local writing groups, services, magazines to submit to, and publishers in California and Nevada. As I gather this incomplete list, I realize there are many gaps and opportunities for us all. Do you have any resources to add to this list? Please share it in the comments!

Tahoe Writers Works in South Lake meets monthly to workshop members' writing (online right now), as well as hosts and promotes other writing events:

Here's a great article by Ingrid Keriotis (Grass Valley) about critique groups and how to start one. http://sierrawritersnevadacounty.blogspot.com/p/writing-critique-group.html

She is also a member of the Sierra Writers:

It looks like unfortunately they are in a transition period. Not sure when their monthly meetings will resume.

High Sierra Writers meets monthly in Reno and has on the agenda "shameless self promotion" which I love. http://highsierrawriters.org/

WritebyNight and Atmosphere Press are a publication service and hybrid publisher collaboration in Nevada https://www.writebynight.net/publication-services/

The California Writers Club (CWC) is one of the oldest and largest writers’ clubs in America.  We have a proud heritage going back to our founding in 1909. Organized into local branches, the club has over 1,800 members in 22 branches spread across California It looks like we need to start a new chapter here in the Sierra/Tahoe/Nevada County area! https://calwriters.org/

Brushfire accepts submissions year-round. However, the cut-off date for submissions to be considered for the Fall edition is October 14, while the cut-off date for the Spring edition is March 14. For the sake of time, we only review art submitted through our website.Though Brushfire is a student-run publication at the University of Nevada, Reno, we do accept and publish submissions from anyone, anywhere on earth. https://brushfire.submittable.com/submit

Red Rock Review is a biannual literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by emerging and established writers. Founded in 1996, Red Rock Review is housed and supported by The College of Southern Nevada. Publication of Red Rock Review is made possible by the School of Arts and Letters, the arts organizations of Nevada, and the generosity of the community members of Las Vegas. https://www.csn.edu/redrockreview

The Meadow publishes work each spring from beginning and experienced writers and artists.Between September 1 and February 1 of each year, we accept poetry, fiction, nonfiction, cover artwork, and black and white comics. https://www.tmcc.edu/meadow

Writers in the Woods Reading Series Intimate readings and workshops in all genres open to all!  https://www.sierranevada.edu/academics/humanities-social-sciences/english/writer-woods/

Tangled Roots Writing is happy to be part of this list of community builders.