Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Opening the Door for Community: Turn the Knob Recap!

Kayla Greenwell
In case you missed it (I'm so sorry if you did) here is the rundown of the very first Turn the Knob Adult Writing Workshop.  The event started a little after noon on Saturday, January 25, 2014 and the participants ranged from already published novelists to creative writing professors to aspiring comic book creators.  Although the attendees had different backgrounds and varying levels of success they all had one thing in common that made this event such a success: a passion for writing.  Keynote speaker Kirk Robinson, an Assistant Professor of English at Calumet College of St. Joseph, spoke of community. It grows as we grow, he said, and it may start very small, but it is always important.  Community is priceless to a writer and that is what this event reflects. When you turn the knob, you open a door and through that door is a community of writers waiting to help you and support you while you achieve your dreams.
Kirk Robinson (center) discussing community. (Picture by Kathryn Page Camp)
After Professor Robinson's uplifting and pen-spurring speech, the group split into the first two sessions.  There was a choice between a poetry session run by Blotterature Literary Magazine Editor Tim Murray, "Why did I get here? The Poetics of All-Inclusiveness"—which I heard from Tim involved hand turkeys—and a fiction session, "It's the Little Things that Getcha: Using Comic Detail to Create Vivid Characters" by Up Jumps the Devil author Michael Poore. Poore discussed giving your characters low impact, humanizing moments to make them more approachable.  "It is in these small moments where you learn the most about your character," he said.
Michael Poore reading aloud during "It's the Little Things that Getcha." (Picture by Kathryn Page Camp)
After these two sessions there was a break for lunch, and Kirk Robinson and Michael Poore talked to the group about publishing.  Professor Robinson discussed publishing for poets and the importance of understanding the etiquette of the journal before submitting.  Both mentioned the golden of rule of reading the journal before sending your work to make sure your work is the right fit.  "You never want to regret being published, and so many people are," they said. In the end, after questions were answered, publishing sounds like a lot of luck and hard work, but hard work that is totally worth it in the end.  Both talked again about community, and how finding those few writers that you trust to cultivate your writing and be honest with you is so essential to your writing process.
Poore and Robinson talking 'bout publishing! (Picture by Kathryn Page Camp)
After this we were onto the final session. This time the participants had a choice between college writing instructor Gordon Stamper Jr.'s "Avoiding Greeting Card Verse: The Hallmark of Writing Poetry" and "The Short and the Short of It: The Art of Writing Flash Fiction" taught by Janine Harrison M.A., M.F.A.  Stamper Jr. said during the break that his aim was to help poets avoid the cheesiness of the hallmark card, unless that was what they were going for. "Then," he said, "more power to you!" Harrison's session focused around the craft of flash fiction—fiction that is 1500 hundred words or less, but is typically 500 words or less. It's harder than it sounds, but if you can master it, it is a powerful form of writing. Every word has a weight to it.

Gordon Stamper Jr. (right) leading "Avoiding Greeting Card Verse." (Picture by Kathryn Page Camp)
We ended the wonderful day of writing and community with more beautiful words from Kirk Robinson, who read his poem "The Design of To-Morrow."  Then the participants each chose a knob to take home as a memory of the day. Hopefully they will continue to work on their writing to submit to the Turn the Knob e-publication that will be go live on March 3, 2014.  Overall it was a fantastic and productive day. It was the perfect example of community.  There was talk of doing an event like this quarterly and everyone left in high spirits with new ideas and smiles on their faces.

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