Poetry Lessons…and Healing

The program for last Saturday’s Writers Forum meeting was how to Jump Start Your Writing With Poetry. WF member and published author Linda Boyden shared with the group some techniques she has learned for writing poetry that also give us great tools for other types of writing as well.

One of those techniques was called writing a Sensory Poem.

The first step in writing a sensory poem is to pick a topic. Then you brainstorm words and phrases for that topic from each of the five senses. For instance, suppose you pick the topic A Winter Day. You would brainstorm words and phrases that describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that you would associate with a winter day. When you have collected a good number of words, grab a few from that list and shape them into a poem.

The beautiful thing about these techniques is that the rules are few. “How many words do you need to write write down from your brainstorm?” Enough to give yourself a good selection of words to choose for your poem. Some people might write ten words and then see a poem in them. Some people might write thirty or forty words and still have to play around with them like letter tiles on a Scrabble rack to find a poem. “Do you have to use all of the words that you brainstorm?” Only if you want to. That might be a fun challenge, but don’t feel like you have to. “Can I only use words from my list?” No, the words on the list are the bricks you will use to build your poem. You still need mortar to connect them and make them solid, right?

Don’t feel like you should be obligated to spending a lot of time on this, either. Think quickly and write, and then move on. This is, after all, intended to jump start your other writing projects. Once you have your creativity flowing with a poem, hopefully it will be easier for you to move onto your other writing projects with a fresh dose of creativity. It works for me!

Here is a poem that was written at the program by WF member Carolyn Faubel. Carolyn drew upon intense images from the devastating Carr Fire. Writing poetry about the disaster might be one way to help ourselves heal.

 

The Carr Fire

By Carolyn Faubel

9/8/18

 

Perfect black leaves are floating down into my back yard,

A strange snow of destruction.

Gentle and persistent, ashfall is silent,

Unless you count the dogs howling as fire trucks and police cars go screaming by.

 

Stinking yellow smoke moves from piney campfire to burning plastic,

And other smells that must not be named.

Everywhere, sharp unforgiving branches spray out, their protection

Blasted off by the monster’s breath.

 

From the dun dry fallen leaves, a soft

Sooty fragment of upholstery fabric

The size of a moth

Balances delicately.

When I pick it up, the light shows through the thin weave of

Carbonized black thread.

And when I stroke the tufts of

Black velvet,

It crumbles and disappears in the breeze.

Was it your couch?

I am sorry.

 

If you attended the program and would like to share your poetry from the poetry program, or even if you would like to try the exercise now and write a new poem, please send them to Writers Forum at writersforumeditor@gmail.com for posting in the future.

Thanks!

 

 

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Reminder about Happy Spot…

What puts you in your writing ‘happy spot’?

The Newsletter Editor challenged members to relate or take a pic of their Happy Spot for writing or reflecting.

We are about to open the topic to our Facebook followers. Send us a description or a photo of your happy spot (reading/writing nook, under a favorite tree in the garden), and we can share it here with everyone.

Send it to writersforumeditor@gmail.com, and see it in the next newsletter. If you prefer good ol’ snail mail send it to Editor, c/o PO Box 492282, Redding, CA 96049-2282.

Special Writers Forum Workshop…

Writing for Children: Anyone Can Do It, Right?

Special Writers Forum Workshop: Saturday, March 12 from 10:30-2:30 (1/2-hour lunch break at noon) $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers

If you have ever read a book to a child and thought, Hey, I can do that…how hard could it be? then this four-hour special program presented by Writers Forum is for you. A skilled and accomplished panel of speakers representing the genres in children’s literature will share insights, experiences, and advice from their journeys as authors and illustrators.

Discussion will include what differentiates children’s literature from other types of literature; tips on pursuing a career in this rewarding industry; and an introduction to the premiere organization of the children’s book world, SCBWI, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The program will include audience participation as attendees are divided into groups to practice writing a query letter to an editor or agent, how to deliver an elevator pitch for your work-in-progress, or how to write a clear synopsis for your manuscript. Each group will be moderated by one of the panelists.

Presenters are Jessica Taylor, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, Ellen Jellison, Cynthia Saye Kremsner, and Linda Boyden. To cover expenses for our speakers, there will be a minimal charge of $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Our customary refreshment table will be available; however, attendees are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch if they desire.

Pre-registration is not required. Attendees may pay at the door. The event takes place at All Saints Episcopal Church, 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA 96003. For further details, contact Writers Forum Program Chair.

Is Your Story Short???

Rcvd this as email this morn…

 

Fellow writers,

One of the best ways to gain credibility as a writer and build your writing resume (especially if your publishing credentials are currently thin) is to win a credible writing competition. And right now, through Writer’s Digest you can do that with just 1,500 words of fiction.

That’s right—Just 1,500 words! Here’s how:

It’s time to enter our 16th Annual Short Short Writing Competition. Whether it’s a story you’ve been working on for years or one you write tonight, all you need is a short work of fiction that is 1,500 words or fewer to submit it right away. It’s that easy. Prizes for the winner of this competition include:

  • $3,000 in cash
  • Your short story title published in Writer’s Digest magazine’s July/August 2016 issue
  • A paid trip to the ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference (where I’d love to meet you)!
  • A copy of the 16th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection
  • A copy of the 2016 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market
  • And more!

Plus, all entrants will receive access to our February 23, 2016, webinar “Short Story to Story Collection: How to Craft a Collection of Short Fiction That Gets Published and Sells,” a $49 value at no extra cost.

I’ve helped judge this competition for years and, I admit, it’s one of my favorites to read through. Being able to write a good short (short) story can be a challenge, but if you have a fun idea and run with it, who knows what can happen. But you can’t win unless you enter. The deadline for this competition is January 15, 2016, so enter now before it’s too late!

Take care of yourself and your writing,
Brian
Brian A. Klems
Senior Online Editor, Writer’s Digest
Author of OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS

To enter visit: http://www.writersdigest.com/writers-digest-competitions/short-short-story-competition

 

Note: There is a $25 entry fee.

A Message from the President: December, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho…

Hoping that everybody has a reading to share at this month’s Members Read Holiday Meeting of the Writers Forum. Twice a year we offer the chance to read five minutes from past, present, or future works. If you have something new, this is an opportunity to use the membership as a sounding board. And remember, FIVE minutes! That includes introduction, scene setting, whatever. As I am wont to say, “Five minutes from when you first open your mouth!”

And have something planned for the potluck. Hint: Nothing messy like BBQ Ribs. Or that requires sharp knives! Remember; we are writers and shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects for many reasons including acting out new variations of murder plots.

Meanwhile, hope all are being good and impressing Santa with your kindness to others, especially critics. Just because you like it is no reason to presume all would like it. Notice I typed “presume” since I don’t mind making a pres out of you and me.

Also in the “Meanwhile Category” is thinking of gifts for your fellow writers. No, not us (unless you really, really, want to).  Writers need/desire/thrive on stimulation. Some past favorites include the perennial-winner Writer Emergency Pack and the ever popular Writer’s Toolbox, both geared to help the writer become unstuck. Some can also serve as party games; I can personally attest to the toolbox being the focal point of many social gatherings.

Meanwhile (the last one), have a great holiday.

Writers Forum Members Wanted for NaNoWriMo

Hi, guys, it’s Alicia, your friendly Writers Forum webmaster and I’m thrilled to tell you that November is almost here.  You already knew that, but what you may not know is that we’re standing tiptoe on the verge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)!

National Novel Writing MonthWhat is NaNoWriMo?  It’s a national (free) event to give you the kick in the pants you need to write that novel you’ve always dreamed of.  Maybe you’re a poet/memoir writer like me and you’ve never dreamed of writing a novel, trust me, this is still a month of fast and furious writing fun that you don’t want to miss out on.

When you sign up to be a part of NaNoWriMo, you’ll

  • write a 50,000 word novel in a month (that’s 1,666 words a day for those of you keeping track)
  • track your progress online and be able to see the progress of your NaNoWriMo friends as well (so you can rub it in their faces when your word count towers above their word count encourage them when their word counts dwindle)
  • get pep talks and support from a slew of amazing authors
  • meet fellow writers online and in person

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past few years and will be stomping away at my keyboard trying to best my fellow Writers Forum members who are just crazy enough to write with me every year.  You should join us.  It’s a terrible amount of fun.  Well, what are you waiting for?  Sign up here.  Then shoot me an email at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com or leave a comment so that we can be NaNoWriMo writing buddies.

Happy noveling!