Tag Archives: memoir

All-Time Favorite Writing Prompts

18 Dec

My sixteenth set of writing prompts for Ploughshares, and the last post in this series, compiles 29 all-time favorite prompts from writers and writing teachers across the internet. Here’s how it begins:

To round out this year of blogging about writing prompts, I polled writers and writing teachers for their favorite writing prompts–generally, simple prompts that have been useful to them as writers, students, and teachers. One such prompt that I found extremely useful in my early days of writing was, “Write about an obsession.” From this straightforward suggestion, I learned a lot about what can drive a compelling story.

Some of these prompts are accessible and instructive; others offer wonderfully evocative images and ideas. For ease of reference, I’ve grouped the prompts into several categories, but certainly some would fit into multiple boxes. It is my hope that these twenty-nine prompts–some specific, some quite open-ended–will help you jump-start any stalled works-in-progress and generate lots and lots of new material.

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The prompt I mentioned as one of my favorites encountered as a writing student, “write about an obsession,” resulted in my story “Go East,” published in Pindeldyboz back in 2006. It’s about one of the most addictive computer games ever. Guess which one!

Readings Galore

31 Jul

I normally think of August as a sleepy month for zoning out and wandering into enormous spider webs, but this year, in Seattle, there are quite a few things happening, all of which are free. Here’s where I’ll be if you’d like to join:

*Thursday, August 7, 6 pm: ekFRANTICS, a reading of literature about imaginary art, with David Lasky and Arlo Smith at the Greg Kucera Gallery. This is being put on by the local press Babel/Salvage and coincides with the Pioneer Square Art Walk, one of my favorite art events in town. I’m reading selections from my novel-in-progress, Paralegal, about a 25-year-old visual artist who takes a job as a paralegal just before the economic crisis of 2008.

*Thursday, August 14, 7 pm: My Body is a Book of Rules launch at Richard Hugo House. My dear friend Elissa Washuta launches her debut memoir, which I happily pre-ordered yesterday. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and celebrate with her.

*Thursday, August 21, 7 pm: The Furnace Presents Chelsea Werner Jatzke at Hollow Earth Radio. Corinne Manning and I are launching the third (!) season of our quarterly reading series featuring one writer, reading one entire story, “with vigor.” Chelseas story is inspired by the Velvet Underground. Come see it live; it’s gonna be rad.

*Monday, August 25, 7 pm: Seattle Fiction Federation #1 at Richard Hugo House: Corinne is reading at this new series featuring fiction only. I’m excited for this new venue.

*Tuesday, August 26, 8 pm: Old Growth Northwest Reading & Opening Mic at the Jewel Box Theater: I’m a featured reader alongside Matthew Simmons and Melody Moberg. We’re all reading new work in response to the prompt “My first day on the job was much like my last,” plus something else of our choosing. Fun!

Then after a week in California for my best & oldest friend’s wedding, I’ve got one more very fun reading called Seattle Wage Slaves: Tales from the Grind, which features stories about work. I’m reading alongside Steve Barker, Sonora Jha, Michael Spence, and Wilson Diehl. That’s on Thursday, September 11 at 6:30 at Office Nomads. There will be spiked coffee and free donuts!

Classy Talk: Visual Inspiration

5 Jan

I did a little interview on the Hugo House blog about my upcoming class co-presented with the Henry Art Gallery and about what I’ve been reading and writing lately. You can register for the class here and see previous students’ work from the class here and here. Join me Thursday nights 6-8 pm starting January 30. Happy new year!

Visual Inspiration: Hugo at the Henry

25 Nov

I’m pleased to offer a third iteration of my writing with visual art class for Richard Hugo House at the Henry Art Gallery, now snappily-titled Visual Inspiration. Here’s the course description:

This class, which meets at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, will use visual art as a springboard for diving into prose writing. We’ll mine the inspiration of images to unearth new prose or add unexpected meaning and direction to works in progress. Students can search the Henry’s digital archive and request works from the permanent collection not currently on view. For even more creative percolation, we’ll read published works inspired by visual art. Exercises, readings, and discussions will cover the writing process, character, story, landscape (internal and external), and style. Students will have the option to workshop one short-short story or essay. Co-Presented with the Henry Art Gallery.

Class meets Thursday evenings 6-8 pm, January 30-March 13 (with no class on February 27 due to the AWP conference). General registration begins December 10, and the scholarship deadline is December 24. I’m excited to see what students do with “Sanctum,” the interactive installation now outside the Henry that draws on social media and surveillance technology, and I’m curious as always to see what gets pulled from the permanent collection and what new creative works spiral out from that.

Made at Hugo House Fellowship Readings

5 Sep

The 2012-13 Made at Hugo House Fellowship is coming to an end (sad day!), and the first of our three final readings is this very Tuesday.

Come see what we’ve been toiling away at all year:

  • Poetry! September 10Katie Ogle will read from THE SMALLEST GUN I COULD FIND  which follows a conversation between a speaker and her homonculus (Latin for “little man”).  Bill Carty will read from YOU TROUBLER (Ahab to Elijah: “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” Taylor Swift: “I knew you were trouble.”)
  • Fiction! September 25.Irene Keliher will read from her dystopian novel THE VISIONARIES, Eric McMillan will read from CLEAR, his novel about the Iraq war, and I will read from my story collection MORE LIKE HOME THAN HOME.
  • Nonfiction! November 21.  Elissa Washuta will read from her second memoir, STARVATION MODE, along with Claire Jackson and Catherine Slaton.

These readings will be amazing! Come, come, come!

It’s been a wonderful year meeting with these talented writers, hearing guest speakers on topics such as grants and first book publications, taking free Hugo House classes, and snatching up surprise opportunities along the way, like Hedgebrook’s Spring Salon. This year, I started to feel much more integrated in Seattle’s literary community. And the fellowship encouraged me to roll up my sleeves, get more writing done, and get my writing out into the world more aggressively than I have ever done before. “The Zoo,” the first story I wrote with the fellowship in mind (while nervously waiting to hear back about the fellowship, actually), was published in January, and two stories I’ve revised this year will be coming out later this fall (details to come).  I workshopped what I believe will be the last story in MORE LIKE HOME THAN HOME at the Tin House conference, and I’m excited to read it on the 25th. Many thanks to Brian McGuigan for coming up with this program and to Hugo House for making it happen!

And check out the 2013-14 fellows!

(Whew. I think I exhausted my monthly allotment of exclamation points.)

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