Sunday, December 9, 2018

Hope to see you on Dec. 17th: Readings on the Pike

I'm looking forward to reading with Caroline Bock, Lottie Joiner, Zach Powers, Norie Quintos, Melissa Scholes Young, Amy Freeman, Caron Martinez, Courtney LeBlanc, Hannah Grieco, and Venus Thrash on Monday, December 17th at Readings on the Pike. Thank you to Hannah Grieco for organizing this new series!

Details about the reading:

Monday, December 17, 2018 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Twisted Vines
2803 Columbia Pike, Arlington, Virginia 22204

I hope to see you there for the reading and book sale!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Narrative Memoir Writing Workshop at Politics and Prose Bookstore

I'm excited to be teaching my Narrative Memoir Writing Workshop at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., starting on March 12, 2019. If you're interested, register today through the bookstore (spaces usually fill up quickly!)

Here are the details from the listing:

Narrative Memoir Workshop (1941)

Five Tuesday: March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 10 a.m. to noon.

$175 (10% off for Members)
Memoir, like all creative non-fiction, relies on literary craft tools such as scene and plot to mold a clear storyline and develop characters. 

This five-meeting workshop will help you to write your memories into scenes for essays or chapters of a full manuscript. Participants will respond to writing prompts and workshop one essay or manuscript excerpt (up to 750 words.) We will consider issues of editing, revising, organizing research and chapters, and publishing. Students will receive feedback from peers and the instructor during group workshop sessions throughout the last four classes.  

This class is open to all levels, from first-time memoirists to experienced writers.

In-class writing prompts will change every session; you are welcome to take this class more than once.

No homework is due for the first day of class. Please bring paper and a pen (or charged laptop) to every class. You will be writing in-class and at home starting with the first session.

We will rely on email for communication and distribution of student writing after the first week.

To participate fully in the class, it is necessary to have an email account that you check regularly.
Five Tuesday: March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 10 a.m. to noon.

Recommended Reading:

The Art of the Personal Essay, ed. by Phillip Lopate

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoirby Beth Kephart

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Happy Holidays!

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and regenerative holiday season!

If you are looking for writing-related gifts for loved ones (or yourself!), you might consider a gift certificate for writing coaching. I have openings for new clients beginning in January.

Don't hesitate to email me (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com with any questions or to make your first appointment today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Holidays For Writing Research

Setting sun between bare trees on a winter afternoon
with snow on the ground

If you are writing about your memories, the holidays can be a fertile time for (even passive) research. You can try to hunt down answers to questions, interview loved ones or work on being present in the moment.

Before you start wrapping presents or planning what you'll cook, take a few minutes to write down questions about your past. Maybe you want to remember how to prepare Aunt Sally's famous pie or what your favorite holiday decoration looks like. List these questions somewhere and keep them close over the holidays when you see folks or your memories are stirred by certain smells or sounds.

If you are hoping to interview, formally or informally, loved ones over the holiday, come prepared. You might start by watching StoryCorps' video, "Best Practices for Conducting an Interview" and reading their list of Great Questions. Overall, I think your goal should be to ask both open-ended questions and specific ones, if you have them. You should also double-up on your record keeping in case you encounter technical difficulties (for example, take notes by hand and use your phone to video the discussion.) 

Finally, keep a notebook close (or phone, my preferred method of jotting down quick notes these days). Be present and use your five senses to experience each moment. You never know when you might have a 'madeleine moment'. 

Good luck and I hope you'll let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Just Friends" at Hip Mama

Thanks to Hip Mama for publishing my essay Just Friends. I especially appreciated editor Kerry Joyce's suggestions.

And thank you to all of my friends from before mama-hood. I'm glad to have found good people I can be myself around.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Composer Writer Connection

Composer Lauren Spavelko and I started Composer Writer Connection, a Facebook group to help connect composers and writers. You might remember that Lauren set some of my poems to music (click through to listen and watch here.) 

The group is meant to be a friendly place for both composers and writers to introduce themselves, ask questions and hopefully prompt a collaboration. We hope that interested writers and composers will join our international discussion.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Write & Read Human Stories and VOTE

Today I opened my memoir writing workshop at Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., by saying something like, “I don’t want to discuss politics in this class, but I do want to acknowledge this weekend’s events. I will assume that we humans are concerned with the pain of our fellow humans. I am devastated and thought about cancelling class. But I remembered the importance of stories and each of us telling our stories the best we can.” 

Was this a political statement in a very political town? I really hope not. I would like to believe that people on both sides of the so-called aisle are grieving for the loss of life and freedoms.

I do not have the skills to promote world peace or even build houses, but I can help others to find the courage, words and resources to write their stories. I am honored that student writers, from high schoolers through retirees, have shared deeply personal stories that resonate with me and other readers. The writers have been affected by gun violence, war, rape, physical and mental abuse, illness and discrimination based on their religious, racial, sexual, gender, linguistic, or economic identity. As I read their stories, I understand them, our many worlds and myself better. 

How do we understand the depth of the loss of life this weekend? By reading stories about the victims as told by their loved ones. We can learn something about the Tree of Life Synagogue victims and the Louisville Kroger victims. And of course we can learn more about all humans suffering in so many similar and different circumstances.

In this increasingly troubling time, dedicate time to write and read. Buy a notebook from the grocery store like poet Sharon Olds and write. Go to the library: care for others and yourself by reading stories by humans similar and seemingly dissimilar from yourselves. 

Remember our losses. Celebrate our lives.