Got cold weather blues? Anxious about the holidays? Or are you just in a rut? If you’re like Baby Dog, you might just need to surround yourself with your own creature comforts. In her case, it’s a nest of cushy autumn leaves. Can you find her?
For you, have you considered taking advantage of the comforts offered by writing? According to writer Edna Ferber, who wrote in her 1963 autobiography: “Life can’t ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer’s lover until death – fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.”
So why not embrace life by signing up for a creative writing course at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro? We’re offering a wide range of opportunities in Spring 2018 that are sure to lift your spirits!
In fact, I’ll be leading a one-day workshop on Saturday, March 3 on flash fiction. Flash fiction is irresistible; a joy for both reader and writer. Opportunities are better than ever, with a virtual explosion of contests and publications specializing in the form. Read some of the best, experiment a little, and leave the class with a complete “kit” of your own for future inspiration.
CCCC offers many other valuable classes and workshops this spring–including a workshop to help writers achieve publication led by recent novelist Michele Berger. I also recommend you consider the weekly course offered by the celebrated poet Mary Barnard titled “Write to Heal.”
In between all the costumes, readings, nibbles, and door prizes, a theme quickly emerged at the CCCC Creative Writing Program event open mic on Friday: COMMUNITY! In addition to appearances by favorite local writers and fans, people came from as far away as Lee, Randolph, and Orange counties to read and savor the work of others.
We were delighted to see Kristy Baggett, Director of Personal Enrichment at CCCC, who joined us with her husband Robert. To name just a few, local writers such as Karen Pullen, Al Manning, Mary Barnard Ruth Moose, Ralph Earle, Judith Stanton, Linda Johnson, and Michele Berger also joined us.
Our emcee, founding CWP member, linguist and poet Chris Bouton (pictured above in a snazzy hat), opened the event by reading our newly minted mission statement, which was compiled by our wonderful and talented marketing intern, Sarah Beth Robbins:
“The Central Carolina Community College–Creative Writing Program teaches the craft of writing as an art form, fosters imagination and excellence in writing, and creates a community for writers, whether they are beginners or seasoned veterans. We believe in the beauty and power of good writing and its ability to transform both writers and the world.”
Chris was on the verge introducing the first reader when lo and behold in sashayed none other than Queen Elizabeth I, that legendary patron of Shakespeare and many other poets.
Fittingly, the Queen transported us back to Elizabethan England, the home of the English sonnet. She regaled us with a reading of “When I Was Fair and Young” (penned by the Queen herself) and other Elizabethan favorites!
Our readers then took their turn at the mike, where we were transported again into the hearts and minds of friends, both new and old. Given the occasion, I shared a piece of my own twisted writing, “The All-Inclusive Vacation for Pessimists.”
The work shared (whether poems, essays, or fiction) was truly global, featuring settings as familiar as Pittsboro and as exotic as Africa. The universal emotions conveyed united us all: joy, laughter, grief, and fear. And this is how community is created.
Chris then closed the event by thanking everyone and drawing three door prizes, which included published samples of several of the local writers.
Scroll down to see more pictures of the event. And if you hadn’t been there, no worries, we’ll be holding another event in the spring. In the meantime, however, you can join our community by enrolling in any of the CWP Spring 2016 Courses, which will be available online soon.
Photographs courtesy of CWP Board Member Mary Barnard, who pulled double duty as photographer AND poet extraordinare!
The short-short story has been around for decades but flash fiction (prose works between 500 and 1,000 words or less) is all the rage these days. And for good reason.
For the reader, the benefits are numerous. It’s immediate, accessible, and offers a variety of voices in one setting. For the writer, the benefits are also myriad. It offers the chance to experiment and the opportunity to do something with the fragments of other ideas that may not work for a poem, novel or traditional short story. This doesn’t make it any easier, however. The less words you use, the more carefully you must choose them for maximum impact. And while you don’t need to resolve all loose ends in a piece, you still need to produce a satisfying story for your reader.
For me, flash fiction is just plain fun! It’s been an effective and rewarding outlet for my quirky sense of humor. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with forms such as memos, emails, online chat dialogues, blogs, even shopping lists. The sky’s the limit!
Because the pieces take up less room, publishers are able to publish multiple authors. This means that there are so many more outlets for writers to get published. All major literary magazines are seeking flash fiction these days, and just as in poetry, you can submit multiple pieces for consideration.
I’ve had the joy of taking several workshops on flash fiction by celebrated author Ruth Moose through the Central Carolina Community College Creative Writing Program. She does a terrific job of choosing pieces for inspiration and then asking us to put pen to paper. So you end up with a solid start and an immediate audience—your fellow classmates!
These lessons have paid off for me and my friends, who have had several pieces accepted for publication. And just yesterday, I’m proud to say that my own piece, “All-Inclusive Vacation for Pessimists,” just appeared in Issue 7 of Brilliant Flash Fiction, a British online publication. (To read it, scroll down the page to about halfway through. Look for the picture of a beach at sunset!)
I hope to read this piece at the CCCC Open Mic at the library on the CCCC Pittsboro campus on October 23 at 6:30 p.m. This is yet another benefit. Flash fiction is perfect for open mics because more people have the chance to share their works. And this is why I think flash fiction is here to stay!
Sunday, May 3, was one of those days simply made for poetry. Blue skies, dazzling sunshine, and a walk through land virtually untouched by humans. A Carolina day free from humidity is truly a gift!
Our writing group was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit with Robin and her husband Wayne, a walking encyclopedia of history and natural science, especially forestry. They are the stewards of one of the dwindling parcels of land not yet affected by the growing development in Chatham County.
Their land includes a natural spring, Landrum’s Creek (home to river otters!), and New World trees rarely seen in subdivisions these days: beech, ash, red oak and hickory. Here we are posing in front of an estimated 250-year-old mockernut hickory tree (identified, of course, by Wayne).
Nature walks, a ritual prescribed by Susan Wooldridge in her book Poem Crazy, are like oxygen to poets. Susan recommends regularly immersing yourself in nature and learning the names of flora and fauna. While we didn’t get lucky enough to see an otter (be still my heart…can you imagine?), we did spot a skink, a hawk, butterflies, centipedes, woodpeckers, and the one thing that makes you dread warmer weather: ticks! But even these pesky little creatures have earned their place. Hummm….a poem about ticks, now there’s a subject rarely touched.
Robin was an especially thoughtful hostess, as she and Wayne had thought ahead and plunked down a brand new picnic table right in the middle of the clearing. This was a perfect spot for pita chips, hummus, ginger ale, and what else? Strawberry shortcake!
Here is Wayne, our intrepid field guide, who is enjoying his own well-deserved plate of cake. We are so grateful to him for his willingness to lead us through the woods and answer our endless list of questions? Is this a maple? Why is this bark so rough? Can we drink from that spring? I’ll give his answer to the last question, mine, out of due diligence. Sure, he said, if you’re used to all those microbes in your system. That was enough for me!
Shortcake was certainly in order given our group’s recent accomplishments. We found out that Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Love, Lust, and Longing, which includes a story (“Happy Pills”) by our writing group member Linda Johnson was nominated for a 2015 Anthony Award. This anthology was edited by local writer and editor Karen Pullen and includes tales from other acclaimed writers such as Ruth Moose, one of our group’s favorite writing teachers at CCCC.
And….just in time for Mother’s Day, we also learned that another member, Michele Berger, had a piece of her writing selected for a national anthology: A Letter to My Mom: A Tribute to Our Very First Loves. In this beautiful book, Michele shares her own heartfelt message to her mother in a collection of personally-crafted letters written by people from all walks of life, including celebrities (Dr. Phil, Suze Orman, and Mariel Hemingway, just to name a few!). Read more about Michele’s experience on her own blog. What I love about this book is that it represents just a fraction of a community of people who want to express their love and admiration for their mothers. In fact, you can even share your own letter on their website.
Whether it’s walking in the woods or celebrating your own mother, I hope that you will find your own inspiration in your own space and that the writing flows as freely as it does in Landrum Creek!
Yesterday, Sunday, April 26, I had the honor of reading a poem at the 4th Annual Vision & Voice Poetry Project at the Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro, a local art gallery specializing in original arts and crafts. Once every year, they open their doors to local poets who, in the style of poetry known as Ekphrasis, write a poem inspired by a piece of art. I chose as my inspiration the beautiful photograph of a snowy egret by Gerald Dukes (kindly held by local artist. D.G. Chandler). If you like, you may read my poem here.
Pictured above is the poet Candace Falloon reading a poem inspired by proprietor Mariah Wheeler’s (also pictured) lovely work of mixed media titled The Muse Calls.
A number of other local poets read, including Mary Barnard, Judith Fisher, Tim Keim, Judith Stanton, Patty Cole and Judy Hogan, who emceed the event. In addition to Mariah, we took our inspiration from a bevy of talented artists including D.G. Chandler, Jerry Fowler, Orlan Johnson, Jacquelyn Lowry, Kate Ladd, Marilyn Penrod, Stacy Lewis, Sharon Blessum, Gerald Dukes, just to name a few. Our subjects of inspiration ranged from the expected (paintings, photography and sculpture) to the more esoteric (dream catchers, jewelry, scarves, even a peppermill!) Poets Ruth Moose, Bonnie Korta, and Sheridan Bushnell couldn’t attend but other poets happily read their work so their voices could also be heard.
If you missed the event, no worries! There’s still time to order a limited edition copy of the poems and images of the art that inspired them for just $35. To do so, contact Mariah at firstname.lastname@example.org. Need a special gift for Mother’s Day? Stop by the Joyful Jewel today — there’s something for every woman in your life, I promise!
In fact, I just bought a pair of earrings for a friend for a birthday present who told me that she absolutely loves them and will treasure them every day!
Local contests are a great way to share your work….and win prizes! My writing group member Linda Johnson and I both earned Honorable Mentions in the 2015 Carolina Woman Writing Contest. Matching pajama-size T-shirts!
Linda won for her short story “Birthday Cake” (penned in a fiction class led by Ruth Moose) and I won for my poem “Ode to My Ironing Board” (written in a class led by Ralph Earle). Both classes were held through the Creative Writing Program at Central Carolina Community College’s Pittsboro campus. We also learned that a CCCC workshop leader, Tara Lynne Groth, won for her story “Money Changes Everything.” All pieces will published by CW in an upcoming issue. Pittsboro represented very well at Carolina Woman this year!
On a related note, and since April is National Poetry Month, I had to point out that today would have been the 115th birthday of another writer, novelist, short story writer, and poet Vladimir Nabokov. I didn’t know he also wrote poetry until my friend Mary located “The Poem” — a piece written by him for one of just two collections penned in his prolific career. As with his other work, “The Poem” is poignant, evocative and lush with language and imagery that would make any writer envious. I couldn’t find an online link so unfortunately (or fortunately!), you’ll have to do like me and order a copy of his collections.
Wondering what to give that “certain someone”? Perhaps they’ve seen it all or they’re notoriously persnickety and whatever you get them, you just know they’ll be returning it.
Consider giving the gift of creative writing and signing them up for a Spring 2015 class at Chatham Central Community College! And if you happen to be that “certain someone” yourself, sign yourself up.
1. The college’s unique Creative Writing program on the Chatham County Campus is the only Continuing Education program of its kind in the state. And we have something for everyone—from 10-week classes or one-day workshops in poetry, fiction and non-fiction led by celebrated authors Ruth Moose, Ralph Earle, and Judith Stanton, just to name a few. Considering what you’ll get in return, the price is nothing short of a bargain.
2. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. You’ll make new friends worth knowing! And the wisdom you pick up will be priceless. Warning: these classes are addictive.
3. You’ll have a new hobby worth bragging about. Instead of things like “I learned how to change the oil in my car” or “I learned how to julienne a carrot” (as important as those things are), you’ll get to say things such as “Just finished up a flash fiction piece about my day at work” or “Wrote a poem today about the cardinal in my yard.”
4. You’ll never look at life the same way again. If you already enjoy creative writing, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But if you’re a newbie, the opportunity to share your unique experiences with others will bring you boundless joy. You’ll feel more connected to the world and the people around you.
5. Need inspiration? Okay, here’s Warning #2. Here comes a shameless plug. Sign up for a workshop lead by yours truly! It’s called “Jumpstart Your Poetic Imagination: Stop, Look, and Listen.” You can find inspiration for poetry everywhere – from reading newspapers and periodicals to mining your daily life and memory. In my workshop, we’ll improvise on sample poems written by other poets and participate in fun and collaborative exercises meant to spark your own imagination.