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February 2016

Writing without a Road Map

Writing without a Road Map

by Jen Parks           

Start with this: Four strangers get into a car...

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? Or, maybe a B movie. What about the beginning of a novel?

Next, consider these words by E. L. Doctorow: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Confused yet? Let me back up and explain.

It’s Friday, January 8th and it’s the next to last day of the Bluegrass Writers Studio Winter Residency. All week, I’d attended workshops, craft talks, and readings. As I settle into my seat and open to a blank page in my notebook, readying myself for Lee Martin’s craft talk, I realize I am still hungry, though not for food like you might think. I am hungry for something else. Hungry for inspiration.

All Bars Are Wally’s Bar

All Bars Are Wally’s Bar

By Doug Brewer

I’ve read that some editors are against stories set in bars, so naturally, I write stories set in bars. I can think several stories and essays I’ve written during my time in the BGWS where I’ve either placed the action or mentioned a bar, and it’s always Wally’s Bar.

Wally’s Bar was a place where I spent a good amount of time and money when I was younger, when I was seriously considering Professional Drinking as a career choice. Wally had good beer, or as good as I could afford, and cheap pool tables in decent condition, and my friends and I made regular pilgrimages over the twenty or so miles to Morrilton, Arkansas for the pleasure. It turned out that Professional Drinking was not a valid career choice, but it was good to know I had the chops to do it.

Journaling to Memoiring

Journaling to Memoiring

 By Kelsey Weber

            For the 2016 Winter Residency, every participant was required to read a book of linked essays called Small Fires by Julie Marie Wade. It’s a wonderful book and if you like to read memoirs then I highly recommend it to you. Even if you don’t like to read memoirs I would recommend this book, since it might just change your mind.

I Know You're in There

by Rebecca Daff, BGWS Student

Attendees of this year’s Bluegrass Writers Studio winter residency were treated to a craft lecture by author Allen Wier. His thoughts on writing, and why writers work even when fame and fortune are far from guaranteed, were compelling. I wrote down as much as I could, but my skills in short-hand are nonexistent, so I eventually put my notebook aside and just enjoyed listening. But before I did, I wrote down something that I continued to think about long after the lecture ended:

“Beginning writers may mistrust the autobiographical impulse, thinking they don’t deserve credit for stories or poems they didn’t make up out of whole cloth.”

Writing What Hurts

Writing that Hurts

By Carissa Stevens, BGWS Student

     As a fiction writer, I have no qualms about putting my characters through the ringer. Death, heartbreak, illness, loss—these have all befallen my characters in different degrees of severity. Perhaps it is sadistic, but I relish the impact traumatic experiences can have on a story.

But, admittedly, when it comes to penning my own misfortunes, I clam up.

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