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Inside Look

Fahrenheit 715

By Cynthia Behunin, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Last spring, Derek Nikitas challenged his Novel Workshop students to write 715 words every day. At this rate of creation, each of us could write a novel without losing years of our lives. Several of my peers thrived and were able to embrace consistently writing their novels and the structure this practice provided.

The first half of the semester, I did as directed, but simply put words on the page, not long thoughts or full-fledged ideas. I felt disconnected to my novel and struggled with motivation to write it at all. By mid-semester my writing stopped completely due to my pregnancy and family issues.

At the end of the semester, my 15,000 word deadline was approaching and I had to complete it. I spent twelve to fifteen hours straight writing (it was dubbed ultra-marathon writing). Finally, I felt connected to my manuscript. When I wasn’t writing I completed research, interviews, and planning.

The No-Longer-Lonely Writer

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Summer in Lisbon

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

It's Spring Break, and that means no deadlines! There's always reading to get lost in and writing to dream up, but this week we get a breather from class assignments. Most of our participants, if they take a break at all, will spend the week focusing on jobs, family, and melting the remaining snow with a blowtorch.

If you need a virtual vacation, escape in our new gallery of photos from last year's Bluegrass Writers Studio Summer Residency in Lisbon, Portugal. Do you have your ticket for 2014?

Before Character and Plot Comes THE AWESOME

By Dr. Derek Nikitas, Director, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Even the program director is sometimes blindsided by how awesome the Bluegrass Writers Studio low-residency MFA program can be. It’s a living, breathing, evolving thing with, surprising twists.

Case in point: this semester, we’ve got a genre-writing workshop with science fiction writer Maureen McHugh (China Mountain Zhang, After the Apocalypse). That’s awesome enough. But last week, Maureen rather casually brought along fellow science fiction writer(s) “James S.A. Corey” to have an online audio chat with the students about novel writing.

Clichés: A Dime a Dozen

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Two years ago, a friend encouraged me to start writing. Think Forrest Gump here. I had no idea what I was doing; I just started writing. Fifteen months and 250 pages later, I had reached the proverbial “end” of what became my first book. And it was bad. Really bad. And I didn’t know just how bad, until Tom Franklin gave a craft lecture at Bluegrass Writers Studio. 

This is Why You Write

By Bob Johnson, Associate Professor, Bluegrass Writers Studio

This is why you write:

Anatomy of a Novel-Writing Workshop

By Dr. Derek Nikitas, Director, Bluegrass Writers Studio

A Bluegrass Writers Studio perk is our love of long-form prose, along with the short stuff. We’ve blogged before about our teaching in this area, here and here.

But what’s the shape of an actual novel-writing course? Depends. There’s the type where finished manuscripts get polished. There are auditorium seminars in plotting. Even some short-story workshops “allow” novel chapters. There’ve been whole AWP panels devoted to this question.

Here’s how I do it at the Bluegrass Writers Studio. I’ll be teaching another of these starting this fall.

Editor Envy

By Lindsey Stockton Frantz, Bluegrass Writers Studio Alumnus

            When Dr. Young Smith approached me a few years ago and asked if I’d like to be Editor-in-Chief of Jelly Bucket--the Bluegrass Writers Studio’s literary journal--I was thrilled. I’d worked on the journal as production manager and I thought I was fully prepared for the duties being Editor-in-Chief entailed. In retrospect, my naïveté is almost endearing. Almost.

            As the production manager of the second issue, I had my hands on every piece of fiction, nonfiction, prose, and visual art that went into the journal. I placed each piece in the journal and formatted each page. It was very time-consuming and very rewarding. I thought moving from that position for issue three would be a break.

Writing Laterally

By Cynthia Behunin, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     We all live lives filled with the stuff after-school specials are made of, don’t we? But when sharing my struggles, I sugar-coat them so my extended family thinks my life is filled with sugar plums, dancing, and laughter. Friends and new acquaintances only picture me based on what I choose to tell them and may never know the darker sides of my life (of which there’s plenty).

Speed Dating for Writers

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     If you are a fiction writer like me, getting to know your characters can be like going on a bad first date: having to field a long list of banal questions you’re not even sure you want the answers to, interspersed with random awkward pauses. And all the while, you wonder, what am I doing here?

     At Winter Residency, I attended a craft lecture by Alissa Nutting, author of the novel Tampa. I wasn't sure if her topic of writing villains would apply to me. After all, I don’t write about evil people; I write about evil things that happen to good people. Totally different, right?

     Not exactly.

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