38Write: The July Workshop (Structure) Is About to Launch

38Write—my [new-ish] global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. It’s new. It’s different. It’s crazy, mad fun!


Tomorrow—July 14—38Write | Structure will launch with 15 writers from 8 countries. Whoop! Whoop!

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Turkey
  • U.K.
  • U.S.
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Australia

And for this round, I’ve incorporated Pinterest into the mix. I’ve created a group board for #38Write writers, and they’re pinning all kinds of incredible images related to structure and place. It’s serving a couple of key purposes: inspiration, as well offering an opportunity for #38Write writers all over the world to get to know one another. Check it out here:

Hope to see you in a #38Write adventure writing workshop soon!

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Nichole Bernier

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Today I’m delighted to welcome Nichole Bernier to Writerhead. She’s the author of the new novel The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D (you know, the one that’s getting all that wonderful buzz right now).

Having Nichole here is pretty special. I’ve “known” her virtually for years; we met on Twitter while I was still living in China. And I’ve been looking forward to sharing her book and her talent ever since learning that her novel was going to be published.

So please rise and give a big round of applause for Nichole. Then lean in close, listen up, and hear what she’s got to say about her writerhead. (And then, yep, go buy her book!)

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

For me the writerly mindset is the need to take a brace of thoughts and translate them into words, give them the structure of words. It happens anywhere, usually when I’m watching other people, and am tremendously moved to be witnessing a moment—some isolated episode of human connection or more often, human passing-in-the-night. But it doesn’t become a thing until I put it into words. That’s the way thoughts and ideas become real to me. It’s trying to force steam back into water.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

When I began writing my novel I had three children, and had never written fiction before. So I expect to be interrupted. It’s fantastic when I’m in an environment where I can open things up for hours, but that’s not the norm. What’s critical then is the way I lay breadcrumbs to find my way back, whenever that will be. If I’m in the middle of writing, I’ll scribble a fragmented sentence with bits of emotion or action or adjectives or dialogue. If I’m at an appointment it might be a scribble on the backside of paper, or if it’s in the middle of the night, there’s a pad in the nightstand drawer. On the soccer sidelines I’m known for taking a lot of pictures with my cellphone; it’s because I’ve become really good at holding it up for mock-shots and texting myself notes.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

There was once a tv show or movie—something slapstick—where the main character would find himself temporarily in the middle of frozen time, though he was still free to move about the cabin. Everyone and everything was stock-still while he tiptoed around doing whatever he liked, taking sodas out of people’s hands, knocking the baseball caps off their heads, etc. For me it feels like that.

BIO: Nichole Bernier is author of the novel The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D, and has written for magazines including Elle, Self, Health, and Men’s Journal. A Contributing Editor for Conde Nast Traveler for 14 years, she was previously on staff as the magazine’s golf and ski editor, columnist, and television spokesperson. She received her master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and is one of the founders of the literary blog Beyond the Margins. Nichole lives west of Boston with her husband and five children. She can be found through her website and on Twitter (@nicholebernier).

 

38Write: Worldwide Writing Workshop Launches Tomorrow

38Write—my new global writing initiative—is a series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, you’ll be connecting with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. It’s new. It’s different. It’s mad fun! (For more info, click here. To sign up, click here.)


38Write | Description launches tomorrow! Sign up today!

So far, 10 writers in 6 countries!

China

India

the United States

England

France

Australia

Click here to join in the fun and make your writing sing! La la la la!

 

Mojo Monday: Speaking at the Pennwriters Conference

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


On Thursday, I’m flying out to speak at the Pennwriters Conference in Lancaster, PA.  I’m very excited to be working with writers live and in person in another Writerhead workshop, and speaking, once again, about writers and social media.

I’m also psyched to reconnect with many of my writer friends that I haven’t seen in a good while. Conferences are such a great place to get your mojo on.

Whoop! Whoop!

Hope to connect with some of you there!

___

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Introducing…The 38Write Writing Adventure Workshop Series for Place-Passionate Writers

Writers, last week I introduced 38Write, my new global writing initiative. And today…

(drum roll, please…)

…I’m wildly excited to unveil the 38Write writing adventure series for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world.

So yes, yes, welcome to 38Write…a series of 38-hour writing adventures, each of which will focus on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life.

The first in the series—38Write | Description—will take place on Saturday, June 2, 2012. You’ll have 38 hours to complete the assignments and send me your strongest piece of writing for feedback. (To sign up and read all the juicy details, visit the CLASSES page of this site.)

38Write is not your run-of-the-mill writing workshop. It’s a writing adventure designed specifically for place-passionate, culturally curious writers that will get you out of your house—no matter where you live—and into your environs.

 

The Unique Aspects of 38Write

  • Each writing adventure is 38 hours long. It’s a manageable amount of time that fits into anyone’s busy schedule. (Good gracious, no, you will not be writing or adventuring for 38 hours straight. I’m ambitious for you, but not crazy. You will need approximately 2-4 hours to work during the 38-hour period…give or take an hour.)
  • Each writing adventure will focus on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life. You will not be writing an entire essay or short story. Some adventures will focus on a skill, like writing kick-butt descriptions; others might get you to look at what inspires you or how you move from idea to writing.
  • During each 38-hour period, you’ll be able to connect with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. (How cool is that?!)
  • You will get feedback from me. (For more info about me, click here.)
  • Terrific for folks writing fiction, essays, or memoir.
  • Beginners and experienced writers are welcome.
  • It’s affordable. A single 38Write writing adventure costs only $38 (U.S.).

 

Why Am I Creating 38Write?

While living, writing, and teaching writing in Shanghai, I learned (and/or relearned) a number of things:

    1. Each of us has a heck of a lot to learn from folks in other countries (and not usually the things we think we need to learn).
    2. Story is an international conversation that can help us better understand one another.
    3. By helping writers from all over the world to improve their craft, I can play a wee role in facilitating this global conversation.
    4. Writing is recursive. You must practice. (And if I do say so myself, I’m pretty darn good at getting writers to practice.)

 

Is 38Write For You?

38Write adventures are designed for all place-passionate writers, including expats and repats, globetrotters, armchair travelers, nomads, cultural spelunkers, deeply rooted souls, mapmakers and mapbreakers, wanderers and wayfarers, voyagers, and all writers interested in exploring and writing about their environs.

So, yup, if you’re asking, 38Write is probably for you.

 

To learn more and sign up for 38Write | Description, visit CLASSES.

_____

Camels: Photokanok / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Beach: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jodhpur: Image: think4photop / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Introducing 38Write: A Global Writing Initiative

[Almost] every Saturday for the past year, I’ve written a blog post under the Expat Sat umbrella, in which I’ve shared info/stories/writing contests/etc. specifically for expat writers around the world. It’s been a great gig, but in recent months, I’ve acknowledged that my interest in sharing/teaching/mentoring/learning from/connecting with writers has expanded to include writers outside the specific expat experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore, and will always adore, working with expat writers. Because they’ve hunkered down in countries other than their own for extended periods of time, they’ve got insight into culture and self that no others will ever have, and they (you!) will continue to be a big part of my writing/teaching intention.

But I’m wildly interested in engaging with ALL intrepid, place-passionate, culturally curious, “globally unbound”* writers, whether they’re living as expats in Indonesia or exploring culture right in their own back yards, and I want to invite them (you!) into this writing experience.

And so, with a hearty smooch, I’m closing the door to Expat Sat, and from here on out, I’ll be sharing a weekly blog post each Friday centered on my new global writing initiative: 38Write.

In significant ways, 38Write reflects my own life. I’m from the United States; my husband is from Ireland; my daughter is from Vietnam; and as a family, we lived in China for nearly five years. Despite the fact that I’m once again living in the U.S., I no longer feel purely “American.” Parts of me have been scattered around the world; and in return, I’ve gathered up and now carry parts of the world within me. As a result, I’ve become an intrepid, place-passionate, culturally curious, “globally unbound”* writer, and I cherish this.

What’s to come with 38Write?

Lots of exciting stuff, including a 38Write worldwide writing adventure that I’ll be announcing next week.

Thanks for listening. Stay tuned!

___

*A quick nod to my virtual pals over at Global NicheAnastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak—with whom I’ve conversed about global niche ideas over the past year or two. “Globally unbound” is their term…and one of my favorites. Check out their offerings. Wise, experienced, globally unbound women with unique perspective and great fire.)

Image: MR LIGHTMAN / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Stacy Bierlein

A hearty Writerhead Wednesday welcome to Stacy Bierlein, author of the short story collection A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends. I’ve known Stacy since we did our MFAs together way back when at Columbia College in Chicago, and I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to share her very sexy, rather hot, laugh-out-loud-and-shake-your-head collection. As Pam Houston says, “These are stories that will make you laugh, and long for, and challenge, and think.”

Now, pull your chair close and lean in. Listen.

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Writerhead typically arrives unannounced. It might very well refuse to come when summoned. Ideally writerhead shows up in my office, early in the morning, when birds sing in the canyon and I can shut the rest of the world away; or in the coffee shop, bursting in with the rush of the caffeine, spurred on by the bustle and voices around me. These days writerhead might hurry in late at night, keeping me wide awake while the rest of the house sleeps, sometimes determined to stay until sunrise. Writerhead willingly accepts blame for dark circles under my eyes. I like writerhead as a travel companion. Sometimes stories take shape on airplane napkins or hotel memo pads and that feels good and right. Writerhead disappears completely when I am stressed out or overwhelmed. It may go missing for months at a time, but reappears to find all forgiven.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

In the years before I became a parent, I could fight hard to keep writerhead around as long as possible; to protect it from threats of interruptions. If the writing was going well I would do anything not to give it up, often to the frustration of my husband who can probably recall a hundred not-quite-conversations like this:

Ned: Your phone is ringing.

Stacy: I have voice mail for a reason.

Ned: Your phone is ringing again.

Stacy: Whomever it is will call or text my cell if it is urgent.

Ned: Your cell phone is turned off.

Stacy: Switch it on if you have a death wish.

Ned: Did you even hear the doorbell?

Stacy: Of course not! How many times do I have to explain this? I am not actually here!

Ned: Your flight leaves in two hours.

Stacy: There will be another one.

Ned: Sean Penn just ran across the street naked.

Stacy: Did you say something?

Ned: Have you heard a word I’ve said all day?

Stacy: Huh?

But writerhead is no match for a seven-year-old. These days I will forsake writerhead at the sound of my daughter’s voice, even if I always try to beg a few minutes more. My daughter will say, “Mommy, I need your help.” I’ll say, “I need two minutes and then I am all yours.” Thirty seconds later (or so it seems) she will say, “Mommy, your minutes are taking forever!” And writerhead takes a timeout.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Writerhead is the morning after the first time with a new lover. It is the warm and cold of the next day, the anxious heart filled with wonder. It is the assurance that words and gestures link together and pull and push and need—the stunning recollection that sentences linger. It is a jumble of memory, the uncertain order of events, the jolt of newness, of rearranging. It is comfort as well as surprise. It is complexity and vigor and fear. It is a suspension of time, a dance, the keeping and the letting go, and a resilient whisper of his lips on your neck.

BIO: Stacy Bierlein is the author of A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends. She is the editor of the award-winning anthology A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection and a co-editor of Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience. She is a founding editor of the independent press Other Voice Books and co-creator of the Morgan Street International Novel Series. She holds degrees from Syracuse University and Columbia College Chicago. A native of mid-Michigan, she now lives in Newport Coast, California.

Follow Stacy on Twitter (@StacyBierlein). Say hello on Facebook. Get to know her publisher too.

Mojo Monday: “Sh*t New Authors Say”

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


After all the words are on the page,

we gotta be able to chuckle at ourselves…

Mojo Monday: Isthmus

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


*isthmus |ˈisməs|

noun ( pl. -muses )

a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land.

• ( pl. -mi |-mī|) Anatomy a narrow organ, passage, or piece of tissue connecting two larger parts.

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek isthmos.

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Image: Chris Downer | Wikimedia Commons | Isthmus to St. Cwyfan’s Chapel, UK

*Oxford American Dictionaries

Mojo Monday: Inspiration, Intuition & Imagination

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


The 3 I’s: inspiration, intuition, and imagination.

Without them, nothing (good) gets written. Not a short story. Not an essay. Not an acceptance speech. Not a novel. Not a poem or a grocery list or a song.

Not a gosh darn thing.

Even the venerable Albert Einstein agreed: “I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

Amen.