Author Talk: Margaret Atwood

Sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, an opportunity arises that you just can’t pass up. The opportunity in this instance was a visit from Margaret Atwood, award-winning author of bestsellers such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, and many others to date.

I personally have not read any of Ms. Atwood’s work, nor have I watched the Hulu production of The Handmaid’s Tale. The reason is because my blood pressure can’t handle it under the current political climate — I’ll just leave it at that. I have, however, admired her work for a long time.

So, imagine my shock when I heard that she would be coming to Tuscaloosa as part of the University of Alabama’s Distinguished Writer’s Series! Little did I know, Margaret Atwood was the writer in residence at the University of Alabama in the mid-80’s. She actually finished her manuscript for The Handmaid’s Tale while she was living in Tuscaloosa. With all honesty, I would not have believed that if I had not heard it straight from her mouth last night.

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We were all treated to readings from The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, and Hagseed. She gave us the background of each, how each came to be, the inspiration behind the works, and insight into the process of writing each. She kept us all laughing with a dry wit and optimistic view of the future. Many a cheer from many a Doug Jones supporter were heard from the audience last night — myself included.

She also shared precious few details about a secret manuscript she completed for Norway’s Future Library Project, which will remain unread for a century. As a participant of the project (which you can read more about right here), she was sworn to secrecy about the details of the manuscript.

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Margaret Atwood, handing over her boxed manuscript for the Future Library Project in Oslo, Norway.

However, she did give us the name: Scribbler Moon. When she explained the premise of the project, she commented that she felt compelled to do it because, basically, there are two types of kids in the world: 1) the kinds who bury bottles in their back yards and hope that someone, one day, will read the message inside and 2) the kinds who don’t.

I like to believe that I’d fall into the first category. What about you?

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(The best I could get from my back row seat!)

Thank you all for reading!

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Short Story Challenge: Week 3

Week three has already come and gone. The prompt for this week’s challenge was: “A retelling of a fairy tale.”

I thought about going the conventional route and doing Cinderella or Snow White. But, since those have already been done several times, I decided to look into a lesser-known fairy tale.

First, I considered re-working “The Golden Goose.” I thought this might provide some interesting opportunities to look at selfishness and kindness. However, once I started to read further into the story, I realized it would be a little difficult to fit the plot and characters into a modern context.

I kept looking. I went through a few others in my mind before I stumbled on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” I remembered hearing it before and reading it at my grandmother’s house when my sister and I were little. I liked this idea of young girls looking for a good time and thought it would be easier to fit into a more modern context.

original“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” by Ruth Sanderson

I changed the setting to a modern day women’s dormitory. In doing so, I decided to re-work all of the characters in new ways in order to best incorporate them into the story.  Continue reading “Short Story Challenge: Week 3”

Writing Prompts – Short Story Challenge 2016

 

Have you all set a New Year’s Resolution or Intention about your writing this year? My 2016 Intention is to judge my success by how much fun I’m having. I realized that in a lot of areas in my life, writing included, I was just trying entirely too hard and often found that I wasn’t having much fun at all. So I’m making joy a priority this year.

Having said that, I was excited to stumble upon this writing challenge from Our Writing Therapy. 52 Short stories in 52 Weeks – one short story a week for an entire year.

I love these prompts because they are so simple, and leave a lot of wiggle room for imagination and experimentation. I bet that if fifteen people in a Creative Writing class had these prompts, they would all come up with stories that were vastly different each week.

So I started last Monday with Week 1: A Story Entitled “A New Beginning”.

Here are the notes that I took while brainstorming. For all of you nerds out there (like me), I used a Moleskin Cahier Journal (pocket size, lined) and Bic Round Stic pen. My absolute favorite pen of all time, though, is the Pilot V5 Precise. The highlighter I used was a Post-It 2-in-1 Flag HighlighterContinue reading “Writing Prompts – Short Story Challenge 2016”

Dose of Inspiration: “The Gap”

Have you all seen this video before? I’ve read a couple of pieces about this “Gap” theory, but this is the first time I have actually seen it presented like this. I feel like it’s made an entirely new impact on me!

I remember talking with my writing group about this same frustration about a year ago. I was feeling rather loathsome about a short story I had written, and in my typical form, I was being entirely too hard on myself. I was dealing with that heavy disappointment when you write something that you know isn’t good enough. Do you all know that feeling? When you crank something out, maybe to just see how it turns out, and it ends up sounding like something you thought was cool in the 8th grade? Then that mean, self-defeating inner dialog starts, “Oh, God. Is that me? Is that what really came out of my brain when I have all of these incredible ideas swimming around in there? Is this all I can do?” Continue reading “Dose of Inspiration: “The Gap””

Welcome, friends!

Welcome to the beginning stages of my new pet project! I spend a lot of time reading and scouring the internet for inspiration, so starting a blog is something that’s been incubating in my imagination for the past year or so. I’ve struggled a little with the direction, but I think I finally have it.

Here’s what I’ve got:

My goal in this new venture is to create a space where writers, readers, and creators can come together to share resources, ideas, and encouragement.

So essentially, when your creative juices evaporate into a thin, odorless mist (as they often do), you can come here to camp out for a spell and reboot.

Below is a general list of what you can expect to find here:

  • Writing Resources: helpful guides, prompts of all kinds, advice from authors, etc.
  • What I Love About… (insert author name here) Explorations in style and the love of reading
  • I Need Help With…. (insert problem here: inspiration, discipline, organization, character development, plot planning) Advice and Pep Talks to get you going in the right direction
  • Doses of Inspiration… Writing can be lonely. Hell, existing can be lonely. These little posts will (hopefully) send you back out better than you came in.
  • Check-ins… Where I am with my writing and challenges I’m facing

To start off with, I have filled this space with a list of books, videos, and websites that have helped me tremendously with my own writing practice and life. Check out the resource page. Continue reading “Welcome, friends!”