Inside Look

Jen Parks Writes a Novel, part 2: Lost in a Good Book

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

            I like to think that I have a good sense of direction. I can usually remember how to get to a place, even if I’ve only been there once, committing to memory tiny details like: turn right at the mailbox with the cardinal picture on it or turn left at the house with the tractor tire on its side in the front yard. Every once in a while, though, despite my memory, I get lost. Really lost.

Welcoming Rasmussen

By Derek Nikitas, Director, Bluegrass Writers Studio

As the weather turns crisp, it’s again that time of year to think ahead to the holidays. Quality time with family, soul-searching, gifts. And for those of us in the Bluegrass Writers Studio community, there’s that second holiday season to anticipate. A time to gather our creative writing family together from all across the country, to fully engage our craft and its meaning, and to share in the gift of time with our visiting writers.

Our seventh annual Bluegrass Writers Studio Winter Residency.

"Suffering With"

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Clips from a conversation with Derek Nikitas, Director, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     The most important thing it takes to be a good fiction writer rarely gets talked about. You have to suffer compassion for people, fellow humans. All of them. In imagination and in life. To a degree that is past responsible or reasonable. If you harden your heart at all, you will fail. You'll fake it or you'll forget it. And I need to hear this again, as much as anyone.

     Compassion differs from empathy in that it is "suffering with," not simply understanding why.

20 Questions: Creative Nonfiction Edition

By Kelley Davidson, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio

1. “Have you read Eat, Pray, Love?”

2.  “So, you’re a journalist?”

3. “You mean, like David Sedaris?”

4. “You mean, like Susan Orlean?”

5. “Did you have a bad childhood?”

6. “Where do you get your ideas?”

7. “Have you written anything about me?”

8. “Is it anything like Girl, Interrupted?”

9. “Is it anything like In Cold Blood?”

10. “Is it anything like Eat, Pray, Love?”

11. “Is it anything like A Child Called “It”?”

12. “Seriously, have you read Eat, Pray, Love?”

13. “So are you, like, a narcissist or something?”

14. “Do you have depression?”

Feeding the Wraith

By Kelley Davidson, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio

There are a million ways for a story to die.

You leave your tiny Moleskine notebook in your coat pocket and then have it laundered. Your computer crashes. Your jump drive goes AWOL and you lose months of precious work. You grieve, but there is no funeral.

Sometimes stories die in their infancy. When the creative muse strikes, you write poignant little notes napkins or store receipts: short phrases, an opening sentence or maybe an ending. But you’re so spacey, so forgetful. You forget about your little notes and weeks later when you clean out your purse all that’s left of them is a gray smear. Time and friction killed them off. You say a little prayer as you throw them in the trash.

The Autumn of My Discontent

By Kristen Roach Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     Recently, as I was getting my thesis manuscript together, I discovered something interesting. I had all of the poems for the manuscript chosen, and wanted to group them into thematic sections. I thought I might move from the most internal poems to the most far-reaching. I could start with personal poems, then personal environment and relationship poems, followed by persona poems, and finally poems that dealt with the broadest human environments.

Uneasy as ABC

By Kelley Davidson, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio

“I’m getting my MFA in Creative Writing.”

The old woman at table 61 looks up from her coffee and asks me, “Well, what are you going to do with that?”

She’s asked me what I’m studying, an ordinary question. Most of my customers ask me the same thing during our interactions. Sometimes I lie and tell them that I’m going to be a nurse, and they ooh and ahh about what a lucrative profession that is, and that I must be really smart.

But it’s too early in the morning for me to lie today, and I’ve decided that I don’t care what she thinks of me. I don’t want to be waiting tables right now and I don’t have the mental strength to dig up the basal nursing school knowledge I remember from my sister’s time in that degree program. So I tell her the truth.

Jen Parks Writes a Novel

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     Misery loves company. I probably shouldn’t imply, with the first sentence of my blog post, that writing is misery, because, of course, that isn’t always how I feel about it. Writing can be joyous, terrifying, exhilarating, maddening, and yes, sometimes, it can be miserable.

     You may not think this, at first, though. Especially not when you sit down to the computer that first time, armed with a steaming cup of morning coffee and the story that’s lived inside your head for days or months or even years. Misery is the furthest thing from your mind. That story, you say? It has been begging you to write it. Inspired and caffeinated, you set down the coffee cup, crack your knuckles, and begin to type.

All In, All Out

By Kristen Roach Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     Writers aren't usually famous for their fitness routines. At least, I don't know of any (besides our very own Jen Parks). But, before I committed myself to my thesis and  this corner of the couch with pen, paper, and laptop, I used to run. My longest distance was a half marathon, and after that I swore I would never do a whole one. It was probably an empty promise from my ego; my body would not have cooperated anyway.

Tricks and Treats of the Trade

Louboutins and corndogs

By Kristen Roach Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     I am in the throes of first-draft-thesis-deadlinedom. I've adopted an I-can't-possibly-because-I-have-a-deadline persona. You know, like Carrie Bradshaw after a lunch at a cafe, a stroll around a museum, and shoe shopping. "I can't possibly." Then she goes up to her apartment, cranks out a fable-turned-newspaper-column on her Mac and is back in action having a Cosmopolitan and late-night window-shopping for Jimmy Choos lickety-split. No sweat.

     Guys - let me translate. You're enjoying your afternoon, having a few beers with the guys, watching golf and chucking mini corndogs in a boiling pot of oil in the yard. Suddenly, you have to go, because of y'know, responsibility. Shoot. You run home, mow the grass, and are back before Tiger Woods drops out of the tournament. And there's still plenty of chips and dip.

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