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Inside Look

The Value of a Thing

By Joseph Nichols, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Steam For Your Workshop Self-Esteem

By Heather Noland, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Keeping an Open Mind

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

“I’m not a poet.”

Add that to the long list of things that I swore I’d never do: work in an operating room, run a marathon, become a vegetarian, go back to school. The list goes on. You would think that at thirty-four years old, I would’ve figured it out by now: that karma has a way of reminding me to keep an open mind, and that the path I have directions for isn’t always the one I end up following. I'm a vegetarian marathoner who works in an operating room, and am currently working on my second Master's degree.

This Ain't Zig Ziglar

By Joseph Allen Nichols, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio

            How do you write about combating the fear of putting yourself out there, as a writer, without sounding like some Zig Ziglar-Mary Kay-esque inspirational euphemism? For me, it is a particularly threatening endeavor – after all, I spent my childhood reading such affirmations pasted all over the mirrors and walls of our home (my mother did, yes, sell Mary Kay).

            The truth of the matter is this: We fail, if by failing we are describing the loss of a contest, the pass-over from a possible employer, or a declined submission to a literary journal. It is the business that we have chosen, or has chosen us.

Accelerated Freefall

By Kristen Roach Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     Three months have passed since eager BGWS participants gathered in Lexington, KY for our annual Winter Residency. We know what we’ve been up to – reading, writing, workshopping, discussing, revising, and freezing – but what about our esteemed guests from January?

     Rigoberto González is one of 20 finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards, which celebrates the best LGBT books of 2013. The competition is in its 26th year and read more work than ever for this year’s awards. The Advocate has selections from all of the finalists here. Go Rigoberto!

Faces of Revision

By Julie Hensley, Associate Professor, Bluegrass Writers Studio

I go back and forth on “required” revision. My students know this. One semester, I include a formal revision assignment, usually as a closing project, in my ENW 820 workshop; the next semester, I take it out in favor of a book review. How do you do real revision in a sixteen week course? Don’t you need to leave the file unopened on your desktop for at least that long? Don’t you need to shut all the hard copies of your manuscript in a drawer for three months or so? One of my own mentors was fond of saying that, optimally, when you come back to that poem or story, the words should no longer feel like your own. I think she was right, that the best global revision happens only with some serious distance; however, I think there are many ways to revise, not all of them global.

The Contract

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

           A few nights ago, I decided it was time.

            I dimmed the lights, quieted my two sons, and cued up one of my childhood favorites:  E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.

            A little over an hour later, my seven year old, Isaac, ran and hid under the table. The room was painted in the blues and whites of E.T.’s death scene. Elliot was pleading with his alien friend, begging the little guy not to die, promising his friend that he wouldn’t leave his side. “I’ll be right here!” he screamed.

Finding My Way Back to a First Love

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

My husband didn’t marry a writer. He didn’t even marry a reader. He married an almost-graduate nurse anesthetist and a wannabe mother. So when I asked my always-been-a-reader husband, nearly six years after our wedding date, “When you finish reading a book, do you ever want to, um, write one?” I got a “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?” look.

I know why I got the look, though. During the two years my husband dated me, I was in graduate school and had read exactly two books for enjoyment. In my defense, the seventy to eighty hours a week I spent in clinical rotations or studying didn’t afford me much time to “read for fun.”

My Own Private Impresario

By Ashley Parker Owens, Bluegrass Writers Studio

We’ve all seen it, from negative reviews on Amazon by consumers who haven’t read the book to blogs suggesting that JK Rowling should stop writing so others will have a chance to publish. Why do some writers think they can get ahead by tearing other authors down? It doesn’t work that way, at least not in my experience.

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.

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