Tuesday afternoon fiction workshop

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Write what you know
Can you write about what you don’t know?
Write what you know about what you don’t know

Whatever works, works
Put the pen to the paper
Keep your schedule
Whether it is a cup of coffee that helps or a special song

How many hours do you want to write a day?
Three or four
How many do you actually write?
One or two

Do you write better in the morning
Or at night?
Morning
Do you write every morning?
No

Good writers borrow, great writers steal
Isn’t stealing bad?
Not when you make it your own

Steal from Hemmingway
How?
Use short to the point sentences
Anyone else?
Steal from Munroe’s plot development

“There’s nothing to writing, all you do is sit at the typewriter and bleed”
Hemmingway said that
“I didn’t know the kind of thing I was going to write, I just knew I was going to write-I just had to.”
Munroe said that. 

Take Ardizzone’s advice
Novakovitch, Gardner, Fitzgerald
Read them all
Write your own Gatsby. 

A conversation with a writer

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I’m happy to introduce my first interview of the series Collecting Conversations. First up to the plate is Andrea, a 25-year-old freelance technical writer who writes textbooks on Microsoft Office software. She has a writing degree from the University of Tampa and hopes to be successful at creative writing one day.

The best part of her job is she gets to work from home and doesn’t have to deal with office politics. Also, Andrea’s name can be found on Microsoft Office software textbooks. Cool, right?

After years of writing before, during and after college, Andrea has a lot of knowledge to share on the subject.

Andrea doesn’t remember the exact moment she began writing, but she remembers being young.

“I’ve always been a reader. As a kid I would carry books with me everywhere I went (and I still do),” she said. “I guess one day I decided I wanted to try writing.”

She enjoys both fiction and poetry. Ultimately she wants to write fiction but she loves poetry and doesn’t want to stop writing it.

Her proudest writing accomplishment has been having poems published in an online journal.

“To me having my own work published is a much bigger accomplishment than getting my name on a book I wrote for someone else,” she said. “I will always remember the first time my own words were published.”

She has learned she can survive writing boot camp.

Andrea finds it harder to start writing than keep writing. She recalls her first year of college as a writing major and refers to it as boot camp, saying it was hard to be vulnerable.

“You spend a lot of time writing your deepest most intimate thoughts and then listen to everyone bash it to pieces,” she said. “If you can take that criticism and weed out the crap and let the rest of it help you then I think you’ll have a much easier time to keep writing.”

She doesn’t keep a writing schedule but wishes she did saying, “I’m just not to the point where I can sit down and say ‘I will write now.’ It doesn’t work that way for me.”

She has learned it’s hard to make time for writing.

“Life gets in the way of most things, but I think if you really have a passion for it, you will make the time,” she said.

Her childhood has been her biggest inspiration. She said she remembers random, insignificant moments from being a child and turns those moments into a story or poem.

She learned not to give up.

There comes a point when most people who have dipped their feet in to writing want to give up. Andrea said she almost gives up everyday, but by sticking with it, her writing improves.

“I’m a perfectionist who could spend an entire day rewriting a sentence,” she said. “I stick with it because nothing makes me happier than that moment when I find the right words to express what I’m trying to say.”

We ended the conversation with advice she would tell other writers or aspiring writers.

“I think you can’t be afraid to write in a medium or genre that you don’t like. I never thought I would ever become a technical writer but I actually enjoy it and it helps my other writing,” she said. “I would also say to really get into poetry. So many writers seem to want to write fiction but never get in to poetry. Learning how to write poems help make your fiction stronger, they go hand-in-hand.”

A look at a few of the questions:
What is the best advice you’ve ever received on writing?
I had a professor tell me that words fail and that once you get over that it becomes a lot easier. I didn’t get it at first but now that I do I’ve had a much easier time writing.
and the worst piece of advice you’ve received?
I think most advice is bad when it comes to art. I’ve been told to not write offensive things, which to me is ridiculous. Life is offensive.
What is your favorite book, short story and poem?
My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I read it all of the time and each time I find something new to love. My favorite short story is a tie between White Angel by Michael Cunningham and Dance in America by Lorrie Moore. And my favorite poem is This Hour and What Is Dead by Li-Young Lee (honestly I love anything by him).
Best movie you’ve seen lately that was adapted from a book?
Stand by Me is my favorite movie of all time. It was adapted from a Stephen King story. I did just see The Perks of Being a Wallflower and thought it was an amazing adaptation. I love both the book and the movie.

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Cloisters

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I traveled to New York this weekend and it was a good trip. Fast, but good (I was only there for one night).
While I was there I visited the Cloister Museum – which is beautiful. If you’ve never been there, you really should go. The Cloisters, located on the northern part of Manhattan, is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was built in the 1930s resembling European medieval architecture.
I went to see the building based on advice from my cousin, who loves the Cloisters and has a degree in writing and art history. She told me medieval art is not art if it is simply hanging on a wall – it is meant to be studied in it’s original form. So, the buildings were recreated as a whole. To say it was breathtaking is an understatement. Although it was cold, I went outside to the gardens of the museum and could tell they were beautiful.
I don’t pretend to know a lot about art, but I love writing and poetry and can appreciate the creative form. I would suggest people take the time to visit it.

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