Inspiration Under the North Face with Pam Houston
I have spent the last three Junes teaching in drop dead gorgeous Chamonix and I can attest to its inspirational and motivational and magical qualities. My class will be a workshop format. Each student will bring a manuscript of approximately 5000 words for critique, and we will use those manuscripts as a portal into all manner of discussions of craft. Metaphor, dialogue, point of view, beginnings and endings, structure and form. There will also be plenty of time to write, and I will be giving you writing exercises that you can use to begin something new or explode something older. We will also read two books prior to coming to France, titles to be determined later, so we can have a bit of a literature discussion as well. But it is also important to reiterate that we will be in France together, and we want to spend plenty of time doing that too. I will lead, on the first Friday, an optional hike that, (though it only takes about four hours and ends at one of the most beautiful and delicious restaurants you will ever experience) is truly one of the most magnificent hikes in the world. We will also gather for a few meals in our compound and, more informally, for meals in the many cafes that line the streets of Chamonix. The wildflowers will be blooming, the parapenters will be turning lazy circles over our heads, and the North Face of Mont Blanc, that giant wonderful she mountain will be glowing day and night, spilling its glacier right into town, daring us to try to write all the feelings she inspires in us.
Descending Into Story with Andre Dubus III
Master novelist and short story writer, Richard Bausch says: “Do not think, dream. If you think you’re thinking when you’re writing, then think again; you’re working with the dreaming side of your mind, so dream, dream, dream it through.” I could not agree more. I also believe this holds true whether you’re writing fiction or creative non-fiction/memoir, for when we explore our lives through the subjective lens of our own memories, we’re still dreaming our way back. But how – technically speaking – does one dream fully and honestly with mere words? Come to this workshop, and I’ll try to lay this out with a bit of lecture, in-class creative writing exercises, and a constructive critique of what comes out of you, one honest word at a time.