Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Character Development, News; things to look for, Poetry

Good stuff coming very soon! Online class; local mentorship groups.

Dear Friends,

Get in on it! 

February 25, 2008 I will begin teaching an online class for called Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction. There are not many places left, so if you have been fencesitting, jump in and sign up as soon as possible! I am very excited about it, and aim for it to really move each participant ahead in their projects, and their development of voices and forms that fully use the richness of autobiographical material, whether in fiction or nonfiction. Details are at 

Important, too! Just a few more days to apply to Intermedia Arts’ Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Program in Minneapolis. Here’s all the news about that; please carefully check the descriptions for my group in strengthening characterization, and for Sherry Quan Lee’s group in the power of poetry as memoir. Thanks!


EXTENDED Deadline to Apply: February 20, 2008

Calling all writers! Applications are now available for our spring session of Writer-to-Writer, the artistic mentorship program designed to give advanced writers the opportunity to reach their next level of artistic development. Writer-to-Writer creates intimate relationships between artists; mentors act as artistic catalysts and partners, providing each mentee with artistic feedback and professional guidance.


Anya Achtenberg (fiction/memoir)

The work of character development is central to discovering the real story, rather than imposing a story onto our characters. Full development of character in story work is not separate from the real work we do in the world, that of continually crossing borders—internal as well as external—with openness and knowledge, compassion and respect. For our characters to unfold their truths in their full dignity or brokenness, their astonishing beauty or cruelty, we must work to understand their deepest yearnings in a way that often goes beyond their own ability to articulate them.

In this mentorship, each participant will agree to “live with” one or two characters for the duration of the mentorship, although new characters may emerge, and new dimensions open of other, perhaps less central, characters. We will work to deepen our ability to bring the power of authentic beings into our writing, and extend our range to include characters we may dislike or fear, characters that puzzle or fascinate us, as well as those with whom we identify. We will challenge ourselves to go beyond our preconceived notions, our projections of our own points of view, our societal and cultural biases, our fear and lack of knowledge, into understanding the lives of others in our global community, in our own neighborhood or family.

We will go beyond the back story, beyond what a character has lived up to the moment that we meet them. An unlived life is hidden within the life each character must live to get by. You will explore your character’s internal terrain, a land of yearning bordered by frustration, overwork, social pressures, forgetting, distractions, and violences, large and small, yet charged by the deep human desire for expression and connection, for fulfillment of the individual and social self in creativity and community. We will look at these evocative and emotional issues in our discussions and in the illuminating work of diverse writers. We’ll work in far-reaching but focused writing explorations to cross boundaries that not only free our writing, but deepen our understanding of, and respect for, the worlds and characters we write about.

Sherry Quan Lee (poetry)
Bookmaking: Writing to Save Your Life

What does the map of your life look like? Are there stop signs, detours, back roads, freeways, and tunnels? Do you travel one particular road over and over again? Are you writing that one story over and over again? Does your collection of stories need closure? Is closure possible?

Memoir can be the stories remembered and made sense of as you chart the map of your life. Memoir can be the connection, the collection of those stories. Memoir can be your stories written in poetic form. Memoir can be poetry enhanced with pictures, and other visual materials.

In this mentorship, we will explore the healing power of poetry as memoir. Initially, we will examine the stories that navigate your life in order to discover the theme of your memoir. Your theme will be your writing prompt to gather more material. We will discuss poems belonging in your book, but emphasis will be on overall theme, organization, format, and production. This mentorship is for poets (who may sometimes write prose) interested in completing a chapbook or manuscript draft.
* * * * * * * * *

Read more about our Spring mentorships with Anya Achtenberg (fiction/memoir) and Sherry Quan Lee (poetry) online here: Applications attached, and available online!

This program is supported by the Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial and in recognition of the valuable cultural contributions of artists to society.

Ok, dear friends. The dancing continues, as does the writing. So, I can’t help but repeat this:

Please check out Rene Thompson and his Latin dance classes at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis!

Rene is one of the striking resources of the Twin Cities. With his international reputation, his long experience as Latin dancer and teacher of Latin dance, his deep knowledge of the roots and history of Afro-Cuban dance, and his building of diverse and interconnected community, he transforms ice to heat in the body and heart of Minnesotans regardless of the season. Blessings on Rene, and Nate, and all who help make this community what community should be.  Alabanza!



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