Live Write Words

Workshops for Emerging Writers

Welcome to LiveWriteWords!

“I tried to stop writing but couldn’t.”  The result is LiveWriteWords, my effort to help emerging writers or anyone suffering a creativity drain to write better right now. I invite you to read about my background and mission, and hope you will check out memoir, novel, poetry , and golf workshops.

See the 2017-2018 Workshop Schedule and Fees for detailed descriptions of current offerings, plus other writing events.

For more information, please contact me at  Livewritewordsworkshops@gmail.com.

Local writers are invited to the free Thursday afternoon Writers’ Group gatherings at the Lowe House, second & fourth Thursdays every month.  We read and critique.  There’s also another discussion group for Local Historians.  See the post on 2017-2018 Workshop Schedules.

I forgot to add this possible workshop to the new Schedule:

MEMOIR ?  or  NOVEL?

Anyone interested in a one-on-one one day workshop should contact me at my e-mail address.

It could include such  important aspects of fiction, essay, and memoir writing as:
Finding your voice (in the continuum from objective/ discursive/essayist voice to poetic voice);
Plot versus character arc (moving characters through increasingly intense climaxes);
Finding and handling theme (invisible symbolic, metaphoric, mythic, imagistic, and moral levels);
Different organization strategies (orchestrating different voices & ‘chunks’; problems with time);
Revising, rewriting, editing, preparing for publication (versus earlier free-writing and first drafts);
Basics (cogency, correctness, clarity, best word choice, fluidity, sentence structure, tone);
Achieving reader appeal (avoiding condescending or over-writing or under-writing);
Answering hidden questions your prose presents (pulling together unexpected connections);
Keeping a forward flow with structured units  (stop-time; flash forward/backward; repetition).

“The road to artistic mastery is through systematic development of fictional techniques”
John Gardner

 

EDITING ASSISTANCE

Dr. Stephenson will gladly assist with editing for less than the customary $50/hour fee.

 

 

Biography

BIOGRAPHY
Dr. William C. Stephenson
P.O. Box 132 Tumacacori, AZ, 85640
livewritewordsworkshops@gmail.com
(828)557-2527

Education
B.A. Pomona College, Creative Writing, 1961
M.A. University of California, Berkeley, English Literature, 1963
Ph.D. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, English Literature, 1969

Bibliography
A. Books
The Inward Journey, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973, co-authored.
Five unpublished manuscripts:
“The Blessing and the Curse” (adolescent adventure);
“DevilBush” (genetic engineering mystery);
“Outwatch” (literary novel);
“Red in the Morning” (literary novel/romance);
“Can’t Stop Falling/A Caregiver’s Love Story” (memoir).

B. Articles in Refereed Scholarly Journals
“What Good Are Impulses from a Vernal Wood?” The Long-Term View, Massachusetts School of Law Journal, Vol.3, Fall, 1996;
“A New Type of Nature Writing?” The Midwest Quarterly, Vol.37, H2, Jan. 1995;
“Deep Within the Reader’s Eye with Wallace Stevens,” Wallace Stevens Journal, Winter, 1978;
“The Performing Narrator in Keats’s Poetry,” The Keats-Shelley Journal, Winter, 1977;
“The Mirror and the Lute: Wordsworth’s Fine Art of Poetic Auscultation,” Yearbook of English Studies, VI, Jan., 1976;
“Deliverance from What?” The Georgia Review, XXVII, Spring, 1974;
“The Fall from Innocence in Keats’s Lamia,” Papers on Language and Literature, Winter, 1974;
“Romanticism and Modern Science,” Studies in Relevance: Romantic and Victorian Writers, 1972, Universitat Salzburg, 1973.

C. Popular and Journalistic Writings
Miscellaneous uncollected articles in newspapers and magazines from 1955 to present. I have served as reporter for several neighborhood newspapers and the Progress Bulletin daily newspaper in Pomona, California.

D. Invitational Speeches
“God, Annie Dillard, and Environmental Writing,” Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing conference, Grand Rapids, MI, April, 1996;
“Willa Cather as Pre-Modern Environmentalist,” College English Association convention, New Orleans, LA, March, 1996;
“Hidden Religious Agenda in Nature Writing and Teaching,” Association for Study of Literature and Environment conference, Ft. Collins, CO, June, 1995;
“Wilderness Within and Without: Exploring Spiritual Meanings of Wilderness,” Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Ashland, WI, March, 1995;
Roundtable participation and panel head, The Wilderness Conference, Weber State University, Ogden, UT, November, 1993;
“Environmental Writing as a Parody of the Judeo-Christian Experience of Wild Nature,” College English Association convention, Pittsburg, PA, March, 1992;
“New Criticism, Newer Criticism, and Wallace Stevens,” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association convention, Denver, CO, October, 1975;
“Romanticism and Modern Science,” South Central Modern Language Association convention, Tulsa, OK, October, 1972.

Teaching Experience
*Teacher of memoir, novel, poetry workshops while Writer-in-Residence at The Lowe House Project, Tubac, AZ, 2016 to present;
*English Department Head, The Woodlands Christian Academy, Woodlands, TX, 1999-2004;
*Associate Professor of English, Northland College, Ashland, WI, 1990-1996;
*Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin, TX, 1969-1977;
*Teaching Assistant, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1963-1969.

Other Professional Experience and Achievements
*Created, taught English Advanced Placement course, The Woodlands Christian Academy, Woodlands, TX, 2002-2004.
*Dean of Humanities, Northland College, Ashland, WI, 1992-1994.
*Created three new programs in environmental writing, literature, and interdisciplinary studies at Northland College, Ashland, WI, 1992-95.
*Advisory Board member, The National Wilderness Conference, 1990-1993.
*Started up and managed two private companies, Radiant Mass Fireplaces, and Professional Writing Services, both serving the Colorado Front Range, 1980s.
*As Senior Public Information Officer at the new Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden, CO, I managed the country’s national and international exhibits program and created and managed the Renewable Energy Exhibits Program co-sponsored by SERI and the U.S. National Parks. It created and placed exhibits in ten National Parks to be seen by millions throughout the early 1980s. I also wrote all corporate- identity brochures for the Institute from 1979 to 1982.
*Program Director of “Free Indeed” national conference in 1978, sponsored by Lost and Found adolescent drug treatment center, Morrison, CO.
*Member, Editorial Board, Texas Studies in Language and Literature, 1971-1976.
*Listings:
Directory of American Scholars; Directory of International Biography, 1970s.

2017-2018 Workshop Schedule and Fees

WRITING WORKSHOP SCHEDULES and FEES   2017               [For free meetings, see below]

November  8, 15   Two day Poetry workshops; 2:00 to 5:00;  $45

November   13   Golf      $45 Tubac Resort fee + $ 10 workshop fee

January    3, 10, 17   Memoir  Wring workshop  9:00-12:00    $85  or  $35/day

February   17, 18   Memoir or Novel:  Which Are You Really Writing?   9:00-12:00, then break for lunch together and return,  2:00-4:00     $85

March  2 or 3   Golf  same as above

April  14, 15  Finish Your Writing Project  9:00-12:00   $60

May  4, 5   Golf   same as above

Discounts given to attendees bringing another participant.

Please pre-register at my e-mail site (livewritewordsworkshops@gmail.com) at least two days before. No need to pre-pay; bring payment to meetings at the Lowe House.  Fees include donation to keep afloat the non-profit meeting place.

 

FREE WRITING MEETINGS

Creative Writing Group meets twice a month on Thursdays, 4:00-6:00  (this is a continuing small group  for reading and critiquing works in progress).

Dates: 9/21 opening; 10/12; 10/26; 11/9; 12/7 and 2018 to be determined..

Poetry Alive meets monthly Sunday 4:30-6:00 (a new public forum for reading and listening without critiquing).

Dates: 10/15 opening; 11/12; 2018 to be determined

All free meetings held in the Lowe House, no registration needed but modest donations are welcomed.

ALSO check out many other relevant offerings at the Lowe House Project website, (lowehouseproject.com).

 

WORKSHOP  DESCRIPTION and ACTIVITIES

Finishing Your Writing Project, 9/21 and 22; plus 4/14 and 15:

Are you stuck?  I currently am, on two different novels.  Maybe you can help me, or we can all help each other.  I’ve got some good ideas about what we need to do, but can’t seem to put them into practice.  Physician, heal thyself.  Anyway, these two-day sessions could create synergistic flow to help take us through our work.  Some things can’t be done alone…so this workshop will include a lot of reading and critiquing. We’ll start by examining the difference between simple closure and denouement and discussing how to move from upswing to downswing on the character/plot/theme arc.  Please bring not only humility and patience to the workshop, but copies of your work.  If you’re too shy to admit you’re having difficulty, come instead to one of the poetry workshops.

 

Golf:  Why Do We Obsess Over the Game?  Nov. 13;  March 2 or 3; May 4 or 5

Yes, I obsess over it, and No, I still don’t know why.  But after studying M.Scott Peck’s Golf and the Spirit  and Thomas More’s The Guru of Golf and being encouraged by fellow golfers, I offer this “Playshop” geared to helping us find and give voice to whatever it is that keeps us coming back–braving rain, wind, and cold, not to mention anger, frustration, and disappointment.  Maybe finding answers won’t change our scores, but it might help us enjoy the game even more.  The two writers, at any rate, insist there can be a spiritual as well as physical and emotional component to it.  We’ll play in the morning, talk in the afternoon, then maybe go out for dinner.  Our afternoon talks will be jump-started by selections from the books’ selections that I’ll give you. Originally this workshop was to be a male thing, but I’ve been persuaded females should be allowed to join our insanity.  The $10 fee of this workshop  will go to help support the non-profit Lowe House, where we may hold our afternoon talks over beer or wine.  Needless to say, we will pay our own green fees  (usually $45 at the Tubac Resort, whose fees are often twice that) and organize into appropriate foursomes.

 

Poetry:  What Oft Was Thought but N’er So Well Expressed.  11/1, 8, 15  plus 3/7, 14, 21

I didn’t start enjoying poetry until after I’d finished my Ph.D. and had started teaching it.  A grad student taught me what it was really all about, and how to write it.  After it stopped being academic and became personal, I fell in love with it.  Now I don’t write poems all the time, like Rumi, but when the fit comes on, I can’t stop; I enjoy rewriting and revising poetry as much as prose.  I hope you like poetry and want to get better at it.  Bring some of yours, especially some you’re working on, to the workshop.  During these three days, we’ll study masters as different as Billy Collins, Richard Wilbur, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Mary Oliver, or Robert Frost, learning their techniques like enjambment, internal rhyme, and sprung rhythm.  We’ll practice reading as well as analyzing, and should cover four important things: what makes a good—or bad—poem; how to speak a poem; parsing and understanding poetry; revising a decent poem into a great poem.

 

Memoir:  Writing from Dark to Light.  1/3, 10, 17

There will be a few exercises here, but this is mainly a learning workshop.  Learning the different features of the six quite different types of memoirs will help you imitate or exploit.  Maybe more importantly, it will teach you what to avoid.  The subtitle, Writing from Dark to Light, applies to only two of the six types–the most common ones.  People engaged in overcoming grief or tragedy may profit most from this workshop, but even those trying to write a simple family memoir can learn here how to organize or find a theme.  The three weekly meetings should help all emerging writers transform their casual journal entries or random boxes of memories into something that traces a curve of self-discovery.   We’ll spend a lot of time finding your natural voice and rewriting—for that’s where the magic happens.  Writers who have already rewritten and revised multiple times might wish to take the workshop on Finishing the Writing Project instead, and those–like me—who fear they’ve overstepped the bounds of a memoir proper may wish to consider the February workshop on the hybrid memoir…but if you’ve collected too many memories to know where to start, or are having difficulty creating a coherent whole, this may be what you need now.

 

Memoir or Novel: Which Are You Really Writing and Why Does It Matter?    2/17 and 18

Many writers draw on their own experiences.  All memoir writers try to honestly recreate and understand what happened to them.  Some are writing to learn how life changed them; others, just sharing unusual experiences.  Both kinds of writers wear the t-shirt that says, “It Took Me by Surprise.”  Those who turn their lives into novels wear a different t-shirt that says, “I Make Stuff Up.”  Is it possible to wear two?  I am, and in the process, have learned a lot about the hybrid memoir/novel.  It’s demanding because you need to control different reader expectations.  Which shirt are you wearing—or  both?  If you don’t know, you should.   In this two-day workshop, we will learn how to create and control the different demands of the memoir, the novel, and the hybrid.  The workshop will open with spontaneous writing from prompts—so bring pen and paper (or I-Pad).

 

 

 

 

selections from My Can’t Stop Falling memoir to be published soon

 

Selections from near the beginning and ending of “Can’t Stop Falling/A Caregiver’s Love Story”  to be published this fall.  If you enjoy reading this, please revisit this website in late October of 2017, when I hope to have the memoir available and will be soliciting reviews in exchange for a free copy.

December 1982

Our cabin was situated in the Front Range’s so-called banana belt, but that didn’t mean it escaped serious storms like the famous blizzard of ’82 that blew in on Christmas eve.   It must have fallen all night while we were lost in bed on this our first winter up top. When we opened the front door, our huge Newfoundland jumped out and disappeared.  We followed, cavorting in the fluff that was already three feet deep and coming.  Everywhere we looked the world was covered in white.  We came back in to crank up the stove…not an airtight but just Emily the old-fashioned blue enamel cook stove.  Because the cabin was so small and the thick logs held so much heat, all we had to do was load her after dinner and go to bed.

Christmas morning, alone in the quietly shining wonderland, miles from anywhere.  I didn’t have to run off to work; didn’t have to start building on the big house.  But one of these days, it slowly dawned on me, we’d have to think about going to town for supplies.  I strapped on the snowshoes I’d never learned to use, and Marilyn said she’d have a pile of pancakes waiting when I got back.  Time to check on the damage.

Cuzi tried to follow but got tired of jumping and disappearing.  I got tired of trying to master the stupid snowshoes.  But eventually I made it to the point I was worried about, the place where I’d tried to erect a snow fence that now had blown away or maybe blown under.  For the length of a football field, snow had flown over the top of the treeless ridge to settle six to eight feet deep over the dirt path to our cabin.  No way shovels could help here.  I shook my head and trudged back for pancakes.  We’d worry about what to do later.

Now it was time to open the few gifts under the tree with handmade aluminum ornaments.  It didn’t have lights because our cabin didn’t have electricity…except for a handful of carefully placed tiny bulbs that were precursor to LEDs.  They, plus the dangling kitchen bulb, ran on direct current electricity powered by the photovoltaic panel and batteries.  The pv panel didn’t do much, but we ran the small Honda generator every third day to pump up water and charge the nicad batteries.  We also had candles and an Aladdin lamp powered by kerosene.  The sound of the generator running for forty minutes was about the only sound to break the quiet…except a very rare scream from our resident mountain lion or the chuck-a-chuck of the least weasel who lived under the porch.

Christmas pancakes were tasty, and we sat bundled up on the porch sipping coffee.  It was about 9:00 and all was still.  Suddenly we heard someone whistling.  Singing?  Off in the distance something or someone appeared to be busting through the snow toward our cabin.  Our eyes must be deceiving us; we’d had too much caffeine.  No, it was Santa Claus.  He wasn’t wearing his red suit, just a ski jacket, but he certainly was lugging his big bag of presents over his shoulder.  And his name turned out to be Paul, Marilyn’s son who’d left Denver in the wee hours to share Christmas cheer with us.  How he made it up two miles from his car down below, I never knew.  But here he was, whistling and laughing.

This was the best Christmas of our life.  Paul stayed most of the day and I stopped worrying about the road.  But two days later I had to do something.  I’d dragged my feet getting the snowplow everyone told me I would need since the county refused to plow our roads.  Now even if I had one, it wouldn’t be able to bust through all that snow.  And the snow wouldn’t melt; there was too much shade.  I skied rather than snowshoed down to the main York Gulch road, where friends helped me locate a man with a backhoe who eventually came to relieve me of a mountain of snow as well as $550 that I really didn’t have.  And since it was still December, I still needed to get that snowplow.   Which I did, and learned to use.

 

July, 1984

We’d been living up on the land for four years, even surviving the famous Colorado Blizzard of ‘82.  The small cabin was done, but we were still working on the big house.  All the time managing 2 horses, 80 lop-eared rabbits, 5 ducks and 12 chickens, a dog and cat, and one wild weasel.  We never tried to manage the mountain lion, deer, or elk.
Today we decided to take a break from homesteading to visit the bristlecone pines on Mt. Evans.  They grew half way up the 14,264 foot mountain that we looked toward each morning from our cabin twenty miles away.
The bristlecones turned out to be tall and majestic, not like the scrubby ones at timberline.  But we never got to finish driving the highest paved road in America.  Marilyn suddenly turned to me: “Turn around now!   Something’s wrong! ”
This woman who danced six hours non-stop every Saturday night at Mike’s bar couldn’t be experiencing altitude sickness; we lived at 8,600 feet.
I did turn around, and immediately raced toward the Queen City of the Plains.  I knew Denver better than anyone, having grown up there in the ‘60s.  (Marilyn didn’t, having grown up in Mississippi.)  Before we got to the hospital she turned sheepishly to me: “Maybe it’s a false alarm.”
False alarms I can handle.  We drove to Sim’s Landing, the place for our first date six years ago.  “Hell, we’re still only forty-something,” I told her.  “Doctors are for sissies.”  She smiled.  Then I added, “But thanks for the heads up.  You can never be too careful.”  By the time we got back to the cabin, the problem had disappeared.
Twenty years later I realized Marilyn’s attack had nothing to do with what finally brought her down.  It was probably caused by the gas-fired Servel refrigerator that I hadn’t vented.

October, 2103

Today another visit to Cochran’s Funeral Home.  Hard but necessary.  As usual, tons of paperwork.  For the past year and a half, paperwork and more paperwork. These past two months have been so hard.  Before, I could kid myself.  As you, Marilyn the realist, have always known, I’ve a long history of hiding my head in the sand.   Now I’m slowly facing the fact that you will soon be gone.  I know you love me as desperately as I love you, but you can’t show it and that hurts both of us.  You have to go, and I have to stay.  Why, no one knows.  No matter how hard I object or petition, nothing will change.  You will go.
What’s so hard is seeing you helpless to protest.  The day will come when you will start shutting down.  No, it’s already come.  The first sign I should have seen, when you stopped cooking.  Cottie dated it exactly: she’d come to visit and was watching you stir the soup or stew with difficulty.  The day after Cottie left you told me you couldn’t cook any more, offering no reasons or excuses.   It flabbergasted me so much that I guess I didn’t stop to put two and two together.
When you got into the nursing home you refused to watch television in the activity room.   You refused even in your own private room, with me lying right next to you, watching golf.  You didn’t want to listen to music, and only obliged me when I insisted on wheeling you outside on a sunny day.  You didn’t want to go out for a chocolate sundae–just obliged me. Were you already aware of your gradual shut-down?  Did you know what pleasure you still gave us all when you offered a fleeting smile?  When will the big shut-down come?
Already you don’t want visitors.  But you do want me, I know that for sure.  Inside you there’s room now for only two—or one, as we’ve always said we are.  But will you push me away at night?  Now are you unable to return my kisses, or have you let go of that also?
You sleep more, just as the books say a person does when leaving becomes real.  Words have already lost most of their significance.  Well, all words save the silly love song I sing to you six times every night: “You are my mouser, my wonderful mouser.  I love you madly, I love you so.  You love me too, I know you do.  You are my mouser, my wonderful mouser, I love you so.”
You eat less and less.  At first you tried to eat whatever I cooked, as long as it was cut into small pieces.  Then I made softer stuff, then pureed it—which I knew you didn’t like. Both Mildred and I knew you stuffed food in the back of your mouth.  I was mad at first.  I didn’t know if it was because you didn’t want food, didn’t like it, or couldn’t eat it.
I should have seen you were choosing a new diet.  I should have listened to Mildred telling me that whatever you wanted was ok, even if it was just cottage cheese, bits of peaches, or yogurt.  I kept thinking you needed more to sustain yourself.  I should have guessed you were starting to sustain yourself on some kind of spiritual energy.
You sometimes sleep with your eyes open.  Why?  Do you have one foot in each world?  Is it hard letting go of us, so you have to keep an eye out, or will they just not close properly?  Do you want to leave me too?
Strangely, your blood pressure and pulse remain strong.  This surprises the nurse and your son David, who’s starting to come around more often.  Your facial color remains basically the same, although your face is a lot thinner.  Your high cheekbones, that Indian heritage, are really high now.  You’re as beautiful as ever.
I see that you need more covers these days.  Do you remember back in the nursing home how you’d always throw off the blankets, and sometimes shirts or sweaters?  How you were always too hot, even when I shivered, lying right next to you in the narrow hospital bed?
Please, Mouser, help me survive this shut-down.

new poem

The Butterfly Poem

I

Stop beating your wings against my windowpane!
Wings are more fragile than glass, you know.
You don’t have long to live, you know.
Stay out here with me.  Help me write this poem.
You and I belong out here, not trapped inside.

Like all poets I write about dying,
not death.  Dying is harder.
We need to wake  to love and pain.
But you who have such little time,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              don’t try to go too soon below.

Painters look around to see what’s here,
find butterflies trying hard to die.
Sometimes paint what they cannot see                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        in colors bright or dim, or hardly there.
No, I won’t bore you with my woes today.

Your wings so shiny black!
How you power them no one knows.
Where you come from no one knows
or where you go–or even I–
oh, if you could only teach me to how to fly!

II

We poets usually find another time
to die, not by giving up like you.
The old refrain we hear inside
pushes us on or gives us pause.
Music and love is what it’s all about.

And you, do you hear sounds of love?
Hear my heart right now, beating low?
Hear quiet thoughts inside my head?
Maybe you know much more than I,
or do you flutter about unconsciously?

“Art for art’s sake!” a painter shouts,
knowing his life will sputter out.
But what he does will stay and stay,
keep him alive beyond his day.
Flutterby, take a lesson from him today.

III

Could you be more than beauty robed in black?
Can butterflies be souls of loved ones lost,
come back to lift a troubled lonely mate
at times like this when feeling all alone,
remembering our headlong rush to love?

If so, I bless thee, mute angelic friend,
wish Godspeed on your trip back home,
memorialize your visit in heartfelt words.
Dare I say your name, my lovely wife?
Dare I whisper, come to me tonight?

Stephenson         Fall, 2017

« Older posts

© 2017 Live Write Words

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑