Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Take Writing Classes?

Armed with a library card and internet connection, you can learn just about anything for free. So why pay for a writing course? The interaction with the instructor, your peers and the carefully chosen materials, as well as the deadlines, will help to speed the learning process along. Plus, you’ll have fun and start to cultivate a writing community.

When you approach a subject from different angles (activating the various learning styles:
visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary,) you’re more likely to understand and remember it. Participating in class discussions, listening to the instructor and spending time alone with the material are activities that work in tandem to help you to learn.

For writing memoir, it is particularly helpful to have new readers who are, at least initially, strangers. Friends who know your story will fill in the missing sections in your text; new readers can ask the right questions to ensure that your narrative is clear.

In my creative writing workshops, I encourage my students to form small workshop groups to continue setting deadlines and reading each other’s material after we’ve finished. Writing can be solitary business, but it doesn’t have to be. The encouragement to continue writing and the opportunity to read someone else’s work will keep you on track with your project and sharpen your editing skills. 

If you’re looking for writing classes in the Washington, D.C., area, there are still spaces in my upcoming Politics and Prose memoir writing workshops and a two day political blogging continuing education course my husband Hans Noel and I are co-teaching at Georgetown University this June.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

AWP Annual Conference in Minneapolis (April 8 - 11, 2015)


The annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference is less than a month away. This year, it will be held from April 8 - 11 in Minneapolis, MN.

I'm excited to be reading with Storyscape and presenting on one panel. Details below.

If you'll be there, I'd love to meet up and catch up!


Storyscape Journal & Sakura Review AWP Offsite Reading
Thursday, April 9, 2015; 7:00pm  (CDT)
The Local
931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
Poets reading: Aaron Anstett, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Ken Cormier, Claire Eder, Zachary Scott Hamilton, Rachel Hanson, Michael Lauchlan, Chloe Yelena Miller, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Raegen Pietrucha, Michael Robins and Ed Skoog

Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN
Saturday, April 11; 1:30 - 2:45
Room L100 D&E, Lower Level
Poets Paying the Bills: Balancing Your Writing and Moneymaking.
Rachel Simon,  Chloe Yelena Miller,  Hila Ratzabi,  Shradha Shah,  Mary Austin Speaker
“Poetry” is often synonymous with “poverty.” How do we afford groceries and other necessities? Panelists from diverse professional backgrounds will discuss how they balance their paying jobs (emergency room doctor, freelance editor, adjunct professor, poetry press editor, online instructor, and book designer) with their writing practice and families. Two panelists have small children at home.

Click through for previous years' posts on AWP conferences. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Me, Myself & I

It can be confusing to know whether to use "I" or "me" in a sentence. Hopefully the following will help to clear up the situation:

Deciding whether to use "I" or "me" is based on whether you are using a subject pronoun ("I") or indirect object pronoun ("me.") The subject pronoun is the pronoun standing in for the person performing the action and the indirect object pronoun is the object or person receiving the action. For example, I could write, "George kicks the ball to Clara." "George" is the subject of the sentence and could be replaced by the subject pronoun, "he." Who receives the action? Clara. In this case, the receiver, Clara, can be replaced by the indirect object pronoun, "her." Therefore, the sentence can be rewritten, "He kicks the ball to her." ("Ball" is the direct object pronoun.)

You will need a subject pronoun ("I") if the "I" is the subject performing the action. (Click through for a complete list of subject pronouns.)

For example, you might want to write, "Diane and I are buying tickets for the show." In this case, "I" is the subject pronoun performing the action (buying the tickets with Diane.) The sentence works if you change the subject to "we," another subject pronoun. Ask yourself who is doing the action and the answer is "Diane and I!" ("Me" cannot be the subject pronoun and therefore not correct. If you were to write this sentence using only the first person singular, "I" instead of the plural, "Diane and I," you'd write, "I am buying the tickets for the show," not, "Me...")

If the sentence changes to, "Diane is buying tickets for me," then "me" becomes the indirect object pronoun. (Click through for more on indirect object pronouns.) You can ask yourself, "for whom"? and the answer is, "For me!" Or, "Who is doing it?" "Diane!" In this case, the direct object pronoun is "tickets" (that is to say, what is being bought.) Whenever the issue is a direct or indirect object pronoun, then the answer is "me" (if it is first person.)

For more, here is Grammar Girl's explanation of when to use "I" or "me."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Scrivener for poetry (link to Red Sofa Salon)



Hila Ratzabi of Philly's Red Sofa Salon recently posted a great piece: 10 Ways to Use Scrivener for Poetry Manuscripts. I've been curious about Scrivener Writing Software for some time and Hila's post really explains how it works. I hope you enjoy it!

Have you used Scrivener for poems, prose, plays or screenplays? What did you think about the program?

Click through for more pieces here by and about Hila Ratzabi