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Inside Look

Faculty Facts: Nancy Jensen

Bluegrass Writers Studio student Chris Dixon interviews faculty member Nancy Jensen, beginning in the style popularized by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton.

What is your favorite word?

Hmm…I’ve always loved the sound of the word ecclesiastical.

What is your least favorite word?

I don’t think I have one, not really: every word is exactly the right word sometime.

What turns you off?

What turns me off as related to writing?  Any work that signals the writer has never really listened—to real people, to the heart, to the sound of great literature.

What turns you on? (Chris's note: For these two, I really, really want to rephrase them as, "What writing-related things turn you on/off?")

Learning the Scope of the Ropes

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     I realized the other day that the title of the magazine "Poets & Writers" draws a distinction between people who compose their thoughts into stanzas and people who don't. It occurred to me that maybe, at the risk of losing hundreds of readers, I should come out and say it: I cross genres. In fact, not only do I write poetry and creative nonfiction, I dabble in fiction from time to time. 

     While I'm a creative person, and I sometimes use colorful language, I'm usually a black-and-white thinker. Life/death, good/evil, right/wrong. By that measure, I should agree with the above magazine, incorporated: you're either writing poetry or you're not.

Tune That Name

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Practicing Practice

Lisbon street art  Credit: KRT

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     Many writers have yet to develop a reverence for unseen work. A blank page and a field of white with a blinking cursor are held in mind as precious marble that cannot be marred with misstrokes. But there are many ways to hammer and chisel, and plenty of stone to work with before you get close to the figure within. The angles of the chisel and the strength of the hammer blows must be learned in order to carve the figure once you come to the right place.

Miradouro, the Overlook

Sunset at Costa da Caparica, Portugal. Credit: Kristen R. Thompson

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Writing with Accuracy, Concision, and Precision

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Splinter Days

By Nancy Jensen, Associate Professor, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Some days writing is like having a splinter. You know it's there--a scene, say. You can feel it throbbing, just under the surface. And you can almost see it, maybe just one end poking up, but still it's but enough to make you think, "No problem. I'll have this out in a snap." 

And so you get the tweezers and start prodding, pinching. Soon you're scraping. Then you're digging. But nothing. 

You try to ignore it, persuading yourself that it will simply work its way out naturally, but that's no good because you can't do anything else until you get the thing out. It takes up your whole mind.

Heeding the Muse, Part VI - The Mobius Strip of Writing

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

We’ve arrived at the final blog in my series, “Heeding the Muse”.  What follows is both a statement and a warning, from me to you, and, before that, from one of the great authors of our time.  If you have not ever done so, I urge you to do an internet search for Stephen King’s short story, “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”.  This, then, is my interpretation of said tale.

Heeding the Muse, Part V - Dictation and Revision

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

            In this series on the possible sources of inspiration for our writing, we have previously discussed the idea of Push Inspiration, or making ourselves available to some external source for our inspirational needs.  Today, I would like for us to assume that we have gained some measure of success in that process.  We've sat down at our writing desk, meditation spot, or other reliable venue, and have made ourselves available to receive a message from some external source of inspiration.  We have typed it across a computer screen or scrawled our chicken scratches against a tremulous pad of paper.

            But what do we do next? 

Heeding the Muse, Part IV - Resistance

photo: Nicolas Nova

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

      “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

            In this series I have spoken only of our attempt to find inspiration, and the places that inspiration can be found. I have noted that we can find that inspiration from without (push inspiration) and within (pull inspiration). I have encouraged you to heed the muse by showing up, by tuning in, and by keeping your eyes open for the subtle cues, the messages, whispered to you by the rolling waves of the Universe within your life.

            I have not yet spoken of the enemy—let us not be unaware that there is one.

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