Wednesday, January 27, 2016

FACES of NCCOnline

I have been teaching writing classes online through Northampton Community College since 2009. I was excited to recently be featured as one of their "faces" of the college. Click through to see the page here

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Upcoming Classes at Politics and Prose Bookstore

*There are still a few seats available. Register today! 

Please note: The Memoir Writing Workshop is sold out. I look forward to announcing spring dates soon.

I'm excited to be teaching memoir workshops again this winter at the independent bookstore Politics and Prose, in Washington, D.C. Classes fill up quickly, so register through the bookstore today!

Downstairs at Connecticut Avenue: Tuesday, February 16, 1 – 3 p.m.

Writing about oneself inevitably includes others. How do we legally, morally, and ethically portray living or deceased people in our memoirs? If you are thinking about writing memoir or have one in progress, this class will provide guidance on these issue.

Memoirist, attorney, and Professor Martha Ertman and memoir writing workshop instructor Chloe Yelena Miller will discuss these issues, followed by a Q&A session in the second half.

Register through the bookstore here

Monday, January 18, 2016

Stay Involved: Readings, Lectures, Workshops


Writing and reading can be solitary, but it doesn't have to be. I encourage you to attend local readings, workshops, lectures, workshops and festivals in your area. Pay careful attention to each author. Listen to how the reader presents her work. Can you hear the music?

In Washington, D.C., check out the regular Poetry News (put out by the Beltway Poetry Quarterly.) My favorite series are the readings at the Folger Shakespeare Theater, Politics and Prose, and Georgetown University.

For more local connections, check out the links on the right side of this blog. Is something missing? Let me know (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Build On Previous Work

Do your best to build your writing project through your personal, professional or academic pursuits. If you are engaged by your writing project, then you will probably find that it relates directly to many other things that you are doing.

Here are some examples: Are you teaching a course on something related to your writing project? Write lectures that can be molded into chapters or shorter articles. Are you writing emails to friends about various aspects of your project? Save the key parts to edit and fit into your query letter as you start to submit to agents and publishers. Are you reading widely on the subject? Write reviews of those books as you work towards becoming an expert on the subject.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sharing Your Work with Friends and Family: Shout or Whisper?

Reading published and unpublished poems at the Tenley-Friendship Library 
in Washington, D.C. The audience's reactions, preparing 
and then reading the poems all help the editing process.

You've been working on a piece and need feedback. When should you share your work with loved ones? Consider the content and your needs.

What did you write about? Is the reader mentioned or involved in the material on any level?  If so, you might wait until you feel comfortable and confident with the draft. Or, you might decide that you need this reader's input early in the drafting process to further your writing and memory. Either way, decide how much you are willing to change based on the reader's reaction.

For more on this potentially complicated subject, Washington, D.C., area writers might consider the  class I co-teach at Politics and Prose bookstore with Martha Ertman: Memoir Writing: Legal, Ethical, and Moral Concerns (next offered Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1-3 pm). We recommend reading Family Troubles: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family

Editing is about both confidence and craft; readers can help you with both. Try to foster and maintain readers who offer you different kinds of feedback and support. For example, when I'm feeling less confident and need a boost, I will show my work to my mom. She's always ready to encourage me. (If you're reading, "Hi, Mom!") When I'm not sure if I've strayed from the world I've created or the grammar isn't right, I ask my (former journalist) husband to look closely at the sentences and ideas. I have a fiction and memoir writing friend with a good eye for filling in gaps when something feels incomplete. 

Aside from family and friends, I strongly recommend that you take classes with writers experienced in your genre. This can be helpful at any stage. Instructor's feedback and the feedback of peers in a workshop class can offer you the necessary craft, plot, idea and creative input to push your work to the next level. Even if you don't agree with their feedback (they are unlikely to all agree with each other), you can see what seems to work and what areas trouble readers. 

And of course, if you are asking folks to read and respond to your work, offer to do the same for them. If you are considering forming a workshop group, you might find these tips helpful. 

When do you show your work to readers?