One-Word Sunday: WALL

The theme this week of Travel with Intent’s One-Word Sunday is WALL.

Here’s the wall of self’s room at River Mill, Northern Ireland, where she spent April writing.

On Writing: Michael Connelly’s Introduction to Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

One of my most enjoyable reads of 2021 were bookends: The Butcher’s Boy, published 1982 and, forty years later, Eddie’s Boy.

Michael Connolly wrote the Introduction to the 2003 trade paperback edition of The Butcher’s Boy:

It used to be that the quickest way for me to descend into a creative depression would be for someone to approach me and identify him — or herself — as a fan of my work, but to then add the dreadful line “But your first one is still my favorite.”

It didn’t matter if the approach was in person at a bookstore or on the street, or through the U.S. mail or the Internet. I always took it very badly, and the compliment would serve to make me question what I was doing . . . There was a time when I would actually respond, hoping to dissuade the reader of his or her own words, saying things like, “That’s impossible!” or “You don’t really mean that!” But I soon realized it wasn’t impossible and they did really mean it.

And that is the source of the depression; that’s the rub. Writing, whether you consider it a craft or an art or both, is something that should get better with practice. It stands to reason. Writing comes from experience, curiosity, and knowledge. In short, it comes from life. The writer must improve with age and experience and life.

And that, too, is the reason there are so many creative writing programs, all over the world. This belief that writing should get better, that it’s a process.

Self wishes she could reproduce the entire Introduction here, but alas! It might be online somewhere? It’s really worth reading.

Stay tuned.

Banff Centre for the Arts: Introducing the Program in Literary Journalism

This summer, from July 4 to July 16, Banff is offering a new program, Literary Journalism. Meetings are in-person on the Banff campus. Self knows one of the instructors, Charlotte Gill.

Self was at Banff Writers Studio, seven years ago, when she was just starting her novel, and the feedback she got from her mentors was invaluable. She wishes she could enroll for this program, as she’d do anything to get back to Banff again, but she’s not a journalist. (The only caveat was that she got fat. They give you a food allowance at the start, and there are five eateries to choose from. By the end of the five weeks, everyone in her program was complaining how much weight they’d gained. Then we had to pose for group pictures, which was really embarrassing.)

At the MacLab, she once sat one table over from k. d. lang — exciting, except she didn’t find out until after k.d. lang left. Part of the Writer’s Studio is giving a public reading, and self signed up for the very last day. She was so nervous, she had to drink a glass of wine beforehand. The story she read from was “Sand,” and had — profanity! There was some restless movement from the audience when she uttered the first word. After that, only laughter. So great.

btw, it took a while, but “Sand” finally found a home last year, in Pembroke Magazine:

Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism 2022 program encourages the exploration of new ideas in journalism and experimentation in writing. Designed to challenge and stimulate, the program aims to inspire creative pieces of nonfiction and to assist the writers in their completion. A preeminent space for long-form journalism, this residency emphasizes the strengths of thorough and articulate reporting, distinctive storytelling, and literary devices.

Application Deadline: March 9, 2022

Complete information can be found here.

Me, Myself, and Self

Self was interviewed by The Museum of Americana.

Read the interview here.

Past Squares 13: Philippine History

Self is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines. Her Dear Departed Dad’s province was an island in the central Philippines called Negros (yes, really, the Spanish named the island after its inhabitants, who were dark-skinned)

For today’s Past Squares post (many, many thanks to Becky at Life of B for hosting the Squares Challenge), here are two books on Philippine History that she’s found invaluable while doing research for her current project, a novel about a 16th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines to fight demons:

2nd Michael Connelly Quote of the Day

Economy creates momentum. The story gathers speed and moves with an unalterable urgency. All characters, all action, relentlessly moving toward the same vanishing point on the horizon.

Michael Connolly’s Introduction to the 2003 Edition of Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

Why has no one made this series into a movie? The chase is made for the big screen. Think The Terminator, only no robots and no time travel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Michael Connelly

A book is like a car. It pulls up to the curb and the passenger door swings open to the reader. The engine revs. Do you want a ride?

Once you get in, the car takes off, the door slamming shut and the rubber burning in its wake. Behind the wheel the driver’s got to be highly skilled, heavy on the pedal, and most of all, oh man, most of all, somebody you want to be with. He’s got to drive near the edge of the cliff but never over. He’s got to turn sharply just as you think you know where you are going. He’s got to gun it on the final lap.

Introduction by Michael Connelly to the 2003 Edition of Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

Self borrowed her copy from the library, and it is pretty beat up. Nevertheless.

She absolutely loved Eddie’s Boy. Which is what led her here, to the very first book of the series. What did she love so much about Eddie’s Boy? The main character was a professional hit man, married to a member of the British peerage. If that character description doesn’t grab you, self doesn’t know what will.

Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction, UCLA Extension Writers Program

I have been teaching this course a long time, almost 20 years. It was, and still is, my favorite course to teach. And, because of a lot of pandemic chaotic stuff and fixing my 1939 cottage, I am only teaching it ONCE in 2021. (Promise I’ll be back early 2022)

What happens during the course? YOU happen.

Don’t ask me to explain why I am a better teacher of nonfiction than I am a teacher of fiction. I know, I’m a fiction writer. Maybe I’m too close to the process, I’m not as good as explaining how it happens for me. Nonfiction, though, is a whole other story.

Trust me. I have kept this course as streamlined as possible to allow plenty of time for discussion and interaction with each student.

My hope is to get everyone to the happy place where they see writing as a verdant field of dreams.

There is one text, a classic.

There are my “lectures,” which are much less classic but okay, they’re useful.

There are THE WRITING EXERCISES EACH WEEK which will fill you with so much tension and joy, you can’t even explain it. Because that’s how writing, the act of sitting down and writing, actually feels (If standing on your head writing works for you, hey . . . )

Registration is open NOW. Class begins May 5 and ends June 15.

Since this class is ON-LINE, you can take it from anywhere in the world. I usually have, in one class, students from at least three continents: North America, South America, Asia, and the UK and Europe.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Western Humanities Review, Spring 2020

Self has a story in the latest issue of Western Humanities Review. She based it on a true story about a ferry disaster in the Philippine Sea. And it all began with the first sentence:

I didn’t like the blind woman.

Link of the Week: FIVE SOUTH

The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories.Ray Bradbury

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