Episode 80: Lydia Kiesling On First Novels

The Millions editor Lydia Kiesling joins Larry and co-producer Laurie Ann Doyle in the studio this week to chat about Kiesling’s new book, The Golden State — a tale of motherhood, immigration and California, out September 4.

“You have things you want to say. Do you have the correct container to put them in? When I wrote book reviews, I could fit them into essay-shaped things. When I became a parent, I had stuff, but I didn’t have the shape to put it in. A novel was the only shape I could fit it.”

9:50: Discussion of of pre-publication essays and Lydia’s work as editor of The Millions
19:55: “Writing while mothering,” and balancing story with thematic issues
30:42: Structural choices and narrative distance
39:40: Drawing dramatic themes from your own life
45:02: Lydia’s development as a writer

Work In Progress Workshop (with Lindsey Crittenden)


Lindsey Crittenden

Lindsey Crittenden

 

 

 

SATURDAYS, APRIL 30–MAY 21  |  Craving a creative community? Looking for support and accountability?  If you want to write more but find it hard to make the time and find the place – let alone some like-minded colleagues with whom to share feedback and an instructor to keep you going – set aside four Saturday afternoons at the Grotto this spring. Whether starting from scratch, getting beyond the first 10 pages, or wrestling with revision, this workshop will help you reach the next level.

We’ll work to set goals, frame a workable practice that makes sense for you, and hold each other accountable – without blame.

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Pushing the Boundaries: Experiments in Fiction or Poetry (with Jenny Bitner)


Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

 

 

 

TUESDAYS, APRIL 26–MAY 31  |  What happens when we approach writing like an experiment? Our minds are open, our writing is deep, and there is no room for writers’ block or cliché ideas. Burroughs used cut-up writing, Anais Nin made her diary her art, and now novels are being written in tweets and texts. Each week we will explore different experimental styles from surrealism to postmodernism and do exercises to loosen our minds and push us in new directions with our writing. With daily writing prompts and in-class exercises, this class is great for beginning writers or experienced writers wanting to push their writing in new directions.

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The Pang in Your Heart: Short Story Workshop (with Elizabeth Bernstein)


Elizabeth Bernstein

Elizabeth Bernstein

 

 

 

MONDAYS, APRIL 18–JUNE 13  |  A short story can knock you flat, it can break your heart, it can make you believe in the world. But how? How can you achieve all that in just a few thousand words? This comprehensive workshop will cover the key elements that make a short story great: plot, character, structure, dialogue, pacing, tension, and more. In class, we’ll explore the short story form using fun in-class exercises, close analysis of weekly readings, handouts, lecture, and discussion. We’ll also talk about how to integrate writing into your life, survive the slush pile, and publish your work.

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Kinda True Stories: Turning Your Life Into Fiction (with Jenny Bitner)


Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

 

 

 

THURSDAYS, APRIL 14–MAY 19  |  Is it true or is it fiction – and does it matter? Often the lines between memoir and fiction can be blurry. And most of great literature has at least some elements of truth in it, from books like Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar to modern examples like Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, and Chris Kraus’ and Eileen Myles’ work.

In this class we will explore memories, experiences, and characters from our own lives and turn them into fictional stories, blending the richness of our emotional and felt experiences with elements from our imagination to create compelling writing.

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How to (Profoundly) Move Your Readers: The Craft of Developing Dramatic Emotions (with Junse Kim)


Junse Kim

Junse Kim

 

 

 

SUNDAYS, APRIL 3—MAY 1  |  One of the most difficult narrative issues in fiction writing is how to emotionally move your readers. Often, what we writers render on the page are concepts of drama meant to profoundly affect the reader, but it does not. In this five-week process class we will dissect the intricate concepts of how emotions are developed in fiction, and master how to recognize and apply narrative craft that develop dramatic emotions in ways that can move our readers.  These skills will be developed through in-class writing exercises and assignments, focusing on interior monologue, characters’ perceptions, creating motivations, and more.

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Truth in Fiction: How to Use History and Current Events to Deepen Setting in Your Fiction (with Meron Hadero)


Meron Hadero

Meron Hadero

Contact: mhadero@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 2

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Date: Saturday, January 30 & Saturday, February 20

Course fee: $150

 In this class, we’ll look at fiction narratives that successfully build setting through history, politics, current events, and that generally capture the zeitgeist of a period. We’ll explore what works, what doesn’t, and what challenges a writer faces in this kind of world-building. Approaches to research and analysis will also be discussed as useful tools for the fiction writer.

Meron Hadero is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan (M.F.A.) and an assistant editor at The Offing focusing on micro prose.

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Writing the Short Story (with Glen David Gold)


Glen David Gold

Contact:glenxgold@gmail.com 

Number of sessions: 8

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Tuesdays, January 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 1

Course fee: $525

Jealous of the glittering jewel of a small, precisely-timed short story? Or amazed at the entire world fit into 5,000 words and bursting at the narrative seams? The way short stories work—when they work—is mysterious but not impossible to crack. There are ways to enhance the almost alchemic way a writer can engage a reader’s imagination. This workshop will bring out the best in your prose, considering factors like structure, elision, and the “racetrack” theory—and above all managing the interplay of empathy and intellect that all great short stories traverse.

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Intensive Novel Writing (with Glen David Gold)


Glen David Gold

Contact:glenxgold@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 8

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Wednesdays, January 13, 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24; March 2

Course fee: $525

When you’re working, there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. One of them is telling you the work is great; the other is telling you it’s terrible — but which is which? There is no place better for a novel to go from good to great than in a room of concerned, interested, contrary, helpful people who all agree that for the evening per week we meet that fiction writing is the most important thing you can do.

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Screenwriting Workshop (with Xandra Castleton)


Xandra Castleton

Xandra Castleton

Contact: xcastleton@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 8

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Mondays, February 8, 22, 29; March 7, 14, 21 (no class Presidents’ Day), 28; April 4.

Course fee: $540

This course provides clear guidance on the fundamentals of successful screenwriting within an open and encouraging workshop format, and is designed to accommodate all levels. Weekly writing exercises, readings, and script analysis will demystify the mechanics while guiding each writer toward the most compelling aspects of their screenplay idea or work in progress. Writers will learn how to use the rules of screenwriting structure, character development, scene writing, etc, in order to apply them to their particular original vision for a screenplay without losing the sense of originality and emotional truth that rules sometimes inhibit.

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