The Physical Stuff of Your Life—and How to Use it to Gain Access to the Emotional Stuff

Sun, Feb 10, 10am-1pm

This will be a generative workshop in which we focus on all the ways the sensory details that surround us—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures—can give us access to that much more elusive interior landscape we are always trying to access when we write.  If we write those details all the way down to the bone.  If we sit in the dark with them and let them distill up from the swamps of memory.

We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of prose writing: the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of metaphor soup of our lived and witnessed experience and pull out what we need; the way we pick up hunks of the physical world and bring them back to the page, translated into language.

We will be aiming for work in which the language is always working in at least two ways at once, where metaphors dance between meanings like beads of water on a too hot grill. We will work toward demystifying some of the essential components of prose writing (image, metaphor, structure, dialogue, character, scene, among others) and turning them into comprehensible tools that are at our disposal.

We will all, no doubt, be humbled in the face of language’s unlimited possibility as well as its limitation.  At the same time we will honor (and hope for) the inexplicable flights of creativity (and madness?) that take a good story and make it great.

Please come armed with pen, paper, or laptop, your vast memory banks, your active and engaged senses, and all the things you don’t even know you know.

$125

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About the Author

Pam Houston is the author of Contents May Have Shifted, Cowboys Are My Weakness, Waltzing the Cat, the novel, Sight Hound, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me. Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, The Evil Companions Literary Award and multiple teaching awards. She co-founded the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, is professor of English at UC Davis, teaches in The Institute of American Indian Art’s Low-Rez MFA program, and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world.

Join us on Mon, Feb 11 at 6pm for a reading Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country with Pam Houston!