Saturday, October 24, 2009

Five Things I Know For Sure: Greg Glazner, Robin Romm & Fenton Johnson

Today's afternoon panel was chock full of useful meditations on the craft of writing, particularly creative nonfiction and memoir, but also fiction. Panelists were Greg Glazner, Robin Romm and Fenton Johnson.

Romm suggested, among other things, that it seems to her that often, short stories come from looking at what she called a "minor emotional space"--for example, she said, short stories are often not purely about joy, fear, sadness (the "major" emotions), but are instead about what she called "joy/sadness" or "fear/joy"--those more fleeting combo or in-between emotions.

Glazner suggested that if we're looking at current mixed genre work, that the mixing tends toward lyric poetry with essay (the lyric essay) and not so much combos of lyric poetry/prose narrative. Glazner suggested that the reason for this trend may be that it's hard to move between the sense of being in-time that occurs in a narrative (whether fiction or nonfiction) and the sense of being out-of-time that occurs in a lyric poem. Essays, it appears, like poems, can operate without being located in time--unlike (most) narratives.

Johnson spoke a lot about memoir and how the period of grief after losing someone is often the time when this person will be most vivid to you for the rest of your life. Though our culture seems to want people to "get over it," Johnson encouraged us to stay in the grief, to allow ourselves the right of fully experiencing it. Should we choose to write about grief, he offered, the writing of it can allow us a way to give form to a complex and already-ended (or forever changed) relationship.

As you can see from the photos in this post, we are having amazing weather this week--even the pelicans love it! (Has Pam Houston told you she loves pelicans?)

Photographs, by the way, are provided by McComish Photography.

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