Workshops

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Workshops are split into two 2-hour sessions, with each workshop offered in both sessions, so that all participants may register for any two of their choice. The workshops are positive and generative—our goal is to inspire you to write and share your stories, whether as poetry, fiction, or memoir. Because this is a small retreat, the breakout groups will be even smaller, with only a handful of participants in each, allowing for a great deal of one-on-one interaction.

Character-Driven Nonfiction

CardinaleBecause nonfiction writers are working with factual stories, sometimes we are focused too keenly on the series of events about which we are writing rather than what motivates and us and others in our lives. Led by Angela Cardinale, this workshop will help writers apply the fiction technique of characterization and character-driven writing to real-life experiences. This will help writers discover new points of narrative interest and conflict, or deepen existing ones.

Haiku Hike

McCandlessKolodjiFormer Yosemite park ranger and Wrightwood resident Joan McCandless will lead a beginner-level hike through the trails of the 200-acre Camp Mariastella property. Learn about the the flora and fauna of the San Gabriel Mountains and breathe-in the pine-scented air. Deborah P Kolodji, a renowned haiku poet and a member of the Haiku Society of America & the California State Poetry Society, will co-lead this hike and haiku workshop. During the walk in the woods, participants will use all the senses to write haiku. Bring a set of sturdy shoes, a notebook, and something to write with.

Mining the Mind – SOLD OUT!

GreenThere’s nothing more paralyzing for a writer than the empty page. Join poet and editor Timothy Green for a workshop on carving meaning out of all that white space. Green has spent more than a decade as editor of one of the largest literary magazines in the country, and published over a hundred poems and short stories. He’ll share his technique for writing virtually all of them, a form of associative writing that turns random prompts into self-discovery by listening to your own deep voice. Participants will write, revise, and share a poem during the workshop. Bring a notebook and a pen, and never suffer writer’s block again.

Nature as Metaphor – SOLD OUT!

ChucNature is a source of inspiration for many writers. How is nature used as a metaphor to express human desires and experience? In this workshop with Teresa Mei Chuc, participants will look at examples of poetry that use nature as a metaphor to express our humanity in microcosm or macrocosm, on a cellular level or on a universal level or somewhere in between. What do we see in ourselves when we look at nature, a dandelion, a mushroom, an oak tree…the mycelium network? Even nature’s colors invoke in us deep emotions. How is the natural consciousness of the Earth connected to our human consciousness? Attendees will write their own poems inspired by the surrounding nature as a metaphor for some aspect of human life and experience, personal or universal.

Performing the Written Word

FrankPublishing your story is only half the battle. Authorship in the 21st century is part performance—and the performance aspect is something authors tend to ignore. From bookstore readings, to radio appearances, to literary festivals, one of your jobs as a writer is to engage a live audience. Wrightwoodian Ronald Frank, a professionally trained Shakespearean method actor, will teach you how to make the most of your own voice as a physical instrument—how to project, engage, enunciate, and, most importantly, how to bring an authentic emotional presentation to the stage. Bring a few of your own writing samples that you would like to perform.

Songwriting for Writers

JonesThis is a hands-on workshop in which participants produce one to four songs (depending on group size) by writing ideas and experiencing a suggested corresponding musical arrangement (chords, melody, rhythm and tempo). The workshop, led by Gregory Jones, approaches the subject of songwriting via the categories of Clarity and Sophistication, suggesting that successful songwriting requires communicating a clear idea while being equally entertaining. In large group, using a simplified SYMLOG type graphic, Jones will assign four types of lyric to four types of chords, tempo, styles of music, etc. In small groups, participants will collaborate one verse which is then matched to its musical counterpart. This back and forth process continues and concludes with a performance of each song.

What If: Conflict Is Plot

TulacroWhether a short-story or a novel, a reader will continue to turn the pages if there is conflict. Conflict, when executed correctly, drives a story forward; conflict is plot. A reader cannot help but to invest in the story because s/he is drawn to the what-if. Readers will put down their phones, forget their responsibilities, and ignore their lives, if and only if, they absolutely have to find out what will happen. Led by Victoria Barras Tulacro, a life-long resident of Wrightwood and professor of English at Chaffey College, this fiction workshop will look at how to create conflict, so that our stories can move forward with purpose and urgency. Workshop participants will be asked to create, write, and share during the workshop with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how to create plot—or rather, put more simply, conflict.