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Beyond the Classroom: AWP

This coming Friday I will have the pleasure of participating in the Association of Writing Professionals (AWP) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C..

The panel is Beyond the Classroom: Teaching Outside Academia: presenting MFA students and graduates with creative ways to expand their careers and supplement their incomes by exploring other teaching channels.

Everyone on the panel is an entrepreneur who’s developed his or her own approach to teaching (see below for more information on the players). And everyone contributed free digital content to help you jumpstart your own freelance career.

Going to miss AWP? Don’t worry. Click HERE for the packet, containing:

  • how to become a freelance editor
  • how to create an online course
  • how to convert your material into digital content, like a course or e-book
  • example of a virtual course: Time to Write workshop
  • epic list of technology gizmos and apps to make your life easier

My esteemed panel colleagues:

Jane Friedman is our panel’s resident genius on all things digital. She’s taught at UVA and the University of Cincinnati, and formerly held positions at VQR and Writer’s Digest. She’s a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and her essays have appeared in collections by University of Chicago Press, Seal Press, Milkweed Editions, and McPherson & Co.

Gabriela Pereira is the founder of DIY MFA, an online education company. She earned an MFA from The New School and now develops online writing courses. She’s the author of the book DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community, and the host of DIY MFA Radio, where she interviews authors and publishing experts about the business and art of writing.

Andi Cumbo-Flyod is a writing coach, skilled at helping writers get to the heart and soul of their work. She spends her days editing manuscripts, running a robust community for some wonderful writers, and doing research about people who were enslaved in the American South. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out: Living a Practice of Words.

Julie Duffy is the founder of the annual StoryADay May short story challenge and runs the online community associated with that challenge. Previously, she worked in author services in Xlibris so she can speak to how self-publishing can be part of an effective revenue model for writers and writing teachers.

The Writer’s Dictionary

Writer [rahy-ter] noun:

Someone who writes.


Getting Published [get-ting pub-lished] verb (used with object):

The act of making a piece of writing public.

Getting published indicates that someone else is doing (some of) the public-making.

Self Publishing [self pub-lish-ing] verb:

The act of making a piece of writing public.

Undertaken for a host of reasons including financial, creative, and personal.


Good Writing [good ry-ting] adjective and noun:

They finished it.


Criticism [krit-e-sizem] noun:

They didn’t like it.


Getting Paid [get-ting payd] verb (used with object):

Deriving some benefit from your writing whether cash, barter, product placement.

Or beer.


Success [suhk-ses] noun:

Now, you didn’t think we were going to define success for you, did you?


Fans [fanz] noun:

They told you they liked it (see, good writing).


Haters [hay-terz] noun:

Think they could have done it better (see, criticism).


Sales [sayles] noun:

Determined by the following formula: Desire of the purchaser divided by the price of the product, multiplied by the product availability to the power of the author’s karma….

Okay, we don’t know what the formula for sales is.

But if you figure it out, let us know, who’s your buddy, huh?


Editor [ed-i-ter] noun:

Someone who has seen the next draft of your work, in their mind.


Proof Reader [proof-reed-er] noun:

Hopefully a discreet fellow. Someone who knows that we all make mistakes.


Memoir [mem-wahr] noun: What happened to you.

Novel [nov-uhl] noun: What happened to you on some level.

Poetry [poh-i-tree] noun: What happened to you with different punctuation.

Non-Fiction [non-fik-shuhn] noun: What happened to you and a bunch of other people.


Networking [net-wur-king] verb:

Always a good idea.


Belief in Oneself [bih-leef in wuhn-self] noun:

Also, always a good idea.

Especially when you are trying to figure out if

you belong among the things you love.

Which clearly you do.


Book Architecture:

A Method for organizing and revising a manuscript.

 

Why I Unsubscribed from your Newsletter

At the new year, I think we all enjoy a fresh slate, which sometimes means unsubscribing from a few of the newsletters, advertisements, and company news bundles we get all too often.

Hey, I’m okay if you unsubscribe from this newsletter if it will help you get your writing done, or if you’re not a writer and you receive this as a personal legacy, or if you’re sick of me and everything I represent. Go on; I won’t be offended.

Besides, the real problem with unsubscribing from newsletters is not initiating the action — it’s those circles they give you to fill in. What kind of milquetoast choices are these?

  • “No longer interested.”
  • “Did not sign up for this newsletter.”
  • Or worst of all, “Unspecified.”

We need some real options. Like:

  • Our conversation at the cocktail party ended awkwardly.
  • Someone I know doesn’t like you.
  • I must have been drunk.
  • The way you automatically generated my name in the “To” field made me doubt the possibility of human connection in the digital age.
  • Your success vaguely threatens me.
  • This is my burner email.
  • You unsubscribed from my list, SOooo…

Seriously, though, we all need to preserve our minds, and I don’t begrudge anyone the right to filter what they take in.

Of course, I hope you stick around. But if you go, go in peace — and make 2017 the best year ever.

The Method & The Mystery

mysterious

a guest blog by Kimberly Savage

I make it a point in life: never argue with Albert Einstein. Who knows what he had in mind when he wrote the words above but, to me, he describes the mysterious process of writing perfectly. And how we surprise ourselves along the way.

Starting the first draft of my work-in-progress, I had a sketch of what my book was about: the characters, the setting, the ideas. Enter the Book Architecture Method which both helps you organize the material you already know, and helps you discover things you didn’t know about your book.

I wrote my first draft and then, following the Method, I analyzed it. I figured out my theme. I recalled my scenes from memory. And I wrote down my series.

If you don’t know series, it is the quintessential Book Architecture concept. I think of it as an archetype, which can be a character, a setting, an object, a phrase, an idea, a theme. For more information on series, check out this PDF from Stuart’s third book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts.

Many of my series that I had in my mind stayed mostly the same, maybe with some cutting and stitching. But I also found I’d started something new in the draft that stood out: Biology.

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Being able to take a step back is what any writing method should help you do…or else it’s not doing its job. In my case, I saw:

  • Biology is my main character’s favorite school subject.
  • There’s some subtext about genetics – since the character is half Native American.
  • Add to that, the character is a cutter, so there’s blood.
  • And, oh yeah, there’s rumination on life and death – what we know, what we don’t know.

I made Biology a series. If I was wrong, and it turned out to be a dead end, I could always erase it from my series grid.

Then I wrote my second draft, and a funny thing happened. Biology became a big deal in the story. I used it as a metaphor, a scene-builder, a character-enhancer. It became one of the main series of the story. It made my story much stronger, much deeper.

Biology as a series surprised me, because it wasn’t in my head when I’d started. And if I hadn’t been looking for new series and surprises, I would’ve missed it.

Using the Method is an amazing way to harness the mystery of your own writing.

  • You go beyond what you already know about your story,
  • You identify the mysteries that you’ve created, and
  • You figure out how to make your story stronger with them.

And you still have lots of room for all the things you have yet to discover.

So go ahead, give the Method a try. Your story will be stronger for it. And you’ll make Einstein so proud.

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