Friday, June 17, 2016

Announcement: Workshop!

I would say "Come one, come all," but the room I'm using can only accommodate 10 people. So...come one, come nine more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Useful Tangents

Here are some things that are true.

1. I've been reading Kathy Acker over the past week. I was strongly encouraged to try her about three years ago, but when I read about her work, I was put off a little and worried it wouldn't be for me. I've chosen to read My Mother: Demonology, a novel from 1993, and although I'm not really sure whether I like it or not, it has given me two big gifts.

I wrote the secret project (aka the Ceremonials project) largely inspired by Florence Welch and my own ideas, but in the back of my mind was this movie I saw some years ago about two French girls at a boarding school who had a sexual affair. The movie was made from a book that had, I remember reading on the internet, some of the most purple prose ever written or taken seriously as literature. That was absolutely all I remembered about the movie/book, so as much as I wanted to look it up and compare it to what I'd written in the secret project, I didn't know where to start. Well, Acker's book mentions the Radley Metzger film Thérèse and Isabelle and then uses it to go on useful tangents of her own, and I went THAT'S IT. That was the movie/book that I had slightly in my mind as I was writing the secret project.

As I look at YouTube videos of the film, I'm a little embarrassed that I took so much, mood-wise and setting-wise, from this film without actually remembering it by name. I was thinking of the school in the film when I created the Cartwright School, and I was thinking of the seriousness with which the affair between Thérèse and Isabelle is portrayed when I assembled Amelia's relationship with Corisande. I did a bunch of stuff that the movie doesn't do - supernatural stuff, obsession stuff, mythology stuff, closure stuff - but I'm still kind of pulling at my collar about the similarities. Perhaps, in acknowledging them, I can get off the hook a little.

Here's a link to the last twelve minutes of the film. There's nudity in it, and it's fairly ponderous, but if you've read the secret project, it might look slightly familiar. (I couldn't find a trailer of decent quality.)

The other gift is a series of photographic images that have been surfacing in my mind as I read, none of which have anything direct to do with the book, but which continued to appear as I continued reading. I am going to do everything in my power to make this a real, in-the-world photography sequence with myself as subject.

Lately (past six months or so) I've been feeling this odd instinct that I need to involve my body in my creative life. I didn't know what to do with that until Acker's book started giving me these pictures. I don't know when or in what final form the images will exist, but I don't want to forget their urgency. I took notes. I approached a collaborator. I'm hoping for the best.

2. I've 90% decided to teach a writing workshop in July. If you're local to Los Angeles and you want to come, please email me, kcoldiron at gmail, so I can gauge the interest of people I don't actually know. Just a li'l email, maybe that only says "me", after which you can continue to lurk and be shy.

3. I had a strange dream over the weekend that I think, ultimately, was about privacy. I wrote down a bunch of notes on it. I woke up with the sensation that, as a writing idea/project, it could be something big, but I realized in reading my notes that I Love Dick impacted me more than I thought and I don't want to just copy others' ideas. (See above.) I'm feeling the need for a big writing project, after setting down a plethora of little ones over the past year or so, but my waking thoughts about it might have been wrong. It would be absurd and philosophical and have to do with family and home as well as art and the body and privacy. I have a main character, which is the most important thing.

There's a small idea I want to work out on the page first. It has to do with a dog and a bicycle, movement in space and time, and - this only crashed into what I had put together over the past week - The Sound of Music. I wrote some pages on it over the weekend, but I don't know if they're any good and I'm worried that I don't have enough for a story-length story rather than a flash.

And I'm waiting for something to come to me so that I can write about male regret. That might happen in ten years, though, so I'm not waiting very avidly.

4. In fact, I counted: in the past year, I've written three short stories, three personal essays, and three weirdnesses that blur the lines between essay, fiction, memoir, and criticism. (More threes.) That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's enough wordage for a collection, and the ideas that came out in there were pretty intense.

5. I have no pictures to go with this post, so here's a photograph by Garry Winogrand that I like a lot. Click to embiggen. Catch you on the flip side.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Testing the Waters, or: Help Me Figure This Out

Sooooo, I have something I want to do this summer. But I need the help of others to do it.

I want to teach a writing workshop.

The workshop would be called "Getting Unstuck", it would be in Encino, it would last for three or four hours, it would happen on a Saturday or Sunday in mid-July, and I would charge $20 per person. The point of it would be to help attendees learn strategies for getting unstuck as writers, whether the stuckness is because of a block, because of a fork in the road, because of some kind of lack in the toolbox, whatever. The format would go like this: We introduce ourselves and maybe do an icebreaker, I give a prompt, the attendees write for some limited amount of time, and then we share and talk about what worked and what didn't. This process would repeat itself with several prompts. There would be a break in the middle and I'd bring snacks. I would cap it at ten attendees, and those ten people could be any kind of writer - prose, poetry, whatever. Attendees would not be reading each others' work, like a table/group workshop, but reading their own (if they like) + listening to me, like a how-to workshop.

I don't need help with the content, because I know a lot of strategies for getting unstuck. What I need help with is discovering whether I should and could do this - whether I could get ten people in the room who are not just friends desiring to be kind, and whether me teaching this workshop seems like a good idea at all (the me part OR the content part).

Would you go to it? Would you spread the word about it to people who might want to go? Would you listen to me for short periods across a few hours of writing and sharing and thinking?

Tell me. And in the meantime, I'll just be thinking of this cat as my mascot for the whole endeavor.

(If $20 seems too low to you, remember that I have no advanced degrees, that I've never taught a writing workshop before [although I have taught yoga workshops, which were priced a good bit higher], and that writers are poor. So I'm not really accepting feedback on that. If this one's successful I'll hike the price.)