Monday, May 16, 2011
Award-winning author Joyce Sweeney and Woodstream Writers director, Jamie Morris, know what writers need – time, support, instruction, accurate information, cameraderie, community, and the opportunity to practice the skills that will help them take their work to THE NEXT LEVEL.
Each Next Level Craft Intensive is an engaging, instructive, market-savvy weekend focused onthe writer's craft. Attendees meet individually with workshop leaders; participate in group discussions; attend craft presentations complete with Q+A; revise or develop new work with on-the-spot writing exercises; and have opportunities to present their work to the group--and that's just the beginning!
Join us in Mt. Dora (Lake County, Florida) for . . .
THE NEXT LEVEL: Build Your Novel from the Ground Up, September 16-18, 2011
This workshop is equally perfect for writers with a great idea they're ready to track all the way to a first draft--and writers who have a draft that's somehow gotten off its track!
Have you wondered exactly which tricks of the book-writing trade will take you from the glimmer of a first idea to the strong and shimmering structure of a concrete outline? Whether you're starting from literary scratch or bringing a work-well-in-progress, you will leave this workshop with a viable outline.
Let Joyce and Jamie show you how to . . .
. . . shape your core idea into a powerful, foundational concept,
. . . expand that concept--step-by-step--into a summary, a synopsis, an outline,
. . . use the mysterious, magical "plot clock" as a guide to strengthen your story.
Over the course of three days you will
• achieve a clear(er) vision of your story.
• explore themes that add resonance and meaning to your story.
• add depth to your characters and their world.
• make a map that makes your next steps concrete and specific.
• confer privately with a workshop leader to aim your efforts for best effect.
The cost for THE NEXT LEVEL workshop intensives, $525, includes snacks and supper on Friday evening, full breakfasts and lunches on Saturday and Sunday. Enrollment limited to 14 participants.
Joyce Sweeney is the award-winning author of fourteen novels for young adults. Also a lauded writing teacher and coach, many of her clients have gone on to publish.
Jamie Morris directs Central Florida's Woodstream Writers, leading workshops and intensives regionally--and coaching writers in many genres, towards publication. Register with Jamie@WoodstreamWriters.com or 407-644-5163 for more information or Joyce Sweeney at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, February 25, 2011
I haven’t sat, or known the ocean for some time. The endless soft waves that heals the caked up blood and scar tissue of my wounded child. The little pig tailed girl swirls around, her toes holding her life with sand and sun, but then she plops down. Her tuss all filled with muddy clay and all she can feel is the loss of this splendor and innocence she once believed lasted forever.
I am an adult, but all I can feel is the feelings of the child. The abandoned promise that she would be loved, or own love, or have love, or walk on love like a cloud from twilight stars. So much nails and soot to pull out of her arms and legs; the ones life left behind, as life rolls its holy terror through her soul. She can’t get over it, she just can’t. She needs to dig and cry down into the earth’s core, scratch away at her skin and let the blood drip and mix in with the cracks and swigs and dead ocean fish. How can life be so alive and yet so dead with shame? So afraid to show the depth of one’s sorrow because only joy is written as our inheritance...what of the grief? What of the desperate need to hug you until the life is squeezed out of your lungs, and then she can suck it all like a vampire and attach to you like a vine to a tree. She is enmeshed in every feeling and word. Her life depends on how much she can drink your moods and swish them around in her body and then run off into the sun and jump for joy that she finally felt you, felt you, felt you in her...
Stop it! Just stop the damn blazing cold, hard, nothingness of cruelty that says "it’s all in a day’s work, she’s busy so she has no soul, she’s cut and dry, she’s business, she’s off to the races, she’s driving her car, she’s focused on her taxes". Where is everyone? Don’t they see?
What are you here for? Die, pay taxes, eat, sleep, fuck?
I give up. I just give up. Vulnerability is buried in the mouth of God. Deep in Her throat, choked in a scream. It is caught, like a fish hook in my bowels, strangled in Her larynx. Don’t take anything personal-- just don’t, don’t! Cheating, not personal, lying, stabbing, ignoring, coldness, indifference, murder, rape, not personal. Hide it, cover it up, forget it, just get on with it, nothing personal. Sad, core hurt, a tearing of my nerves, a ripping of my soul. A battle between my head and heart. Inside a tangled mess of blood and cartilage. Screams. I am tight and sore and distraught with emotions...death and despair. I can’t keep smiling because it makes you feel good, so you can pretend that I accept the cold, hard world of 'business as usual'. It’s not personal. I feel good now because you’re not my business.
Make it all go away. I will just bury myself among the dead gulls washed up from oil spills. The baby seals clubbed to death and I will bury myself in their death and their shock that man can be so cruel and then forget it ever happened.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A death of a self that emerges from the ashes, of black hearts, dirty minds, and filthy souls that tear out hearts of families, children, mothers and fathers leaving the women empty in her womb, waiting for a seed to birth a new beginning. And then, after the tears, and grief, and swollen stomach of the dying young, after the stench of death and the screams from behind the jails, I see a tunnel of light. I see the entrance into an angelic realm. Gabriel blowing his horn, Miriam playing her tambourine. I am here to witness how life can distort us into suicidal thoughts, to hate ourselves. And then realize that it is the only life that we have and we have a choice. I am here to watch the thousands walk across the continents, at first one in spirit, then split apart like the atom and exploded into separate tribes, separate nations, separate countries. I am here to hear the call of the wild, the women waving from afar, waving to come home, come back.
My grandmother crossed the ocean in a pickle barrel. She left behind everything, every picture, fork, spoon, tear, touch and connection to her roots. My mother swam in her grief. The women of my family fought to stay alive, fought to find love, fought to forget that there was a past to their beginnings. But they couldn’t wipe it all out, couldn’t forget. They tried, with fancy cars, large diamonds plucked from the sky, gambling junkets and big brick houses with mezuzahs attached to the door, where they kissed G-d’s lips every time they entered the house.
This is their remembrance. The witness of a people who survived but didn’t know quite what it meant to be happy, or alive, or satisfied; an insatiable lust for life that never quite got quenched. I learned so much from these women, these people of the desert tribe, this world I live in because of their courage and valor. I witness being human, being afraid, being torn apart and sewn back together. I have no way of knowing anything except to see that I stand on the earth, sun shining, oaks swaying, moon behind the rim of the stars--and down below is me--watching, waiting, delivering the past from my womb to reinvent the secrets that are encoded in my cells.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I shut him out. Deleted him from my email and cell phone. I shut him out, his green, dreamy eyes and wide lips and sullen gaze. I cut him out, ripped him out of my subconscious, letting the soul blood fall across my face, tears of my yearning, my deeper self that holds all the paths, all the directions. We drive down the highway in his corvette, Stevie Wonder singing, for once in my life I have someone to love me, and we smiled thinking this true. But soon the car crashed, and the red paint peeled back and what was there was only rage and despair.
We held to the dream as long as we could, but we both became sick with paranoia, defended by abandonment and tortured by unrequited love. We tried to suck from the other, to fill the hole that danced together for so long. The emptiness so deep that only a sick stomach and anorexic heart was left behind to mourn and cry over. We drove down the highway, the ad signs, Marlboro cowboy, Mr. Clean his earring dangling, mops, spoons and dark roads to a nowhere diner, a cup of coffee waiting for me as I dream of the past, of what could have been, should have been.
But I sit in my neat little house with gorgeous blue cobalt walls, lonely, alone, without a destination. Deep down something calls to me, I think it is him, screaming out to me in the night to release his spirit. This makes no sense. I need to be free. But what is freedom? What is the bell that rings for me to turn and see what lies in the horizon without him?
But I am sick. I vomit from the grip I have on the past. I cannot let go. Find my own self in the reflection of the mirror. I can't see, I am blind. I am seeing only a ghost image, something my mother wanted me to be. A married woman. A woman clinging to her past, a woman scratching off the dust of the desert, afraid that the sand will bury me alive.
We drive the highway. I'm wearing a tight mini. Him a sweet white shirt and jeans. It was a perfect evening. Moon, stars, navy sky. The breeze swept us away. It seemed so real. So real. Then he left me. And I left myself, thinking he held the key to me. Where am I? Laying naked on the floor, battered and abused from the lack of self-love. I hate myself without him. Why can't I feel alive without him. This is wrong. Disgusting. I have to leave. I have to go. Shut him out. Turn off the light that holds his face in my hands. I have to leave. I have to...where will I go?
The road I once drove with him is no longer there. No longer smooth, sleek and seductive. It is gone. But deep down I hunger for the obscenity of that night. The way I melted into his eyes, the way he licked my cheeks, held my thigh. This touch that made me feel that I existed. That I was somebody. But I can't do that anymore. I can't think of him as my savior. My way of running away from myself. I hate myself when I am alone. Why? Because the self I thought would travel the world, eat sticky food in foreign places, write great manuscripts and kiss the ass of the David in Florence, the one who once thought the world was in the belly of my womb...really never existed.
I am just the little girl shaking in the back of a closet. Shaking and shivering, terrified that life will gobble me up and I will be left in ash, blown away by the wind from a hollow hole in the wall. I want to crawl into the hole, like a mouse, squeaking, small and insignificant...where am I? Who am I? How do I save myself from myself?
We drove down the highway all googly eyes, hot inside, wet between the legs. This was life. This is the way is supposed to feel, until the vagina dries up and skin scales, and the eyes wrinkle. We drive down the highway. I reach for the night and hold it in my palm. So much promise, so much wonderment, so mystery...
I felt very disturbed after last night. Something deep in me crawled out. Something hot and heavy. A yearning for that mystery. I want to slip away in it. This world is one dimensional. I want to get lost in my subconscious, individuation is the spiritual path. I am not sure what that means anymore.
There is no other. Just myself. Writing this to myself. Talking to myself. Who is that Self? Yet I yearn for another to hear this self that plays hide and seek.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I need to know that I am solid, that I am waiting, that I am balancing. I need to know that Ruby is integrating, coming into her body to receive her story. That I am waiting to come out as the writer to allow for the story to be revealed, to be received, to be allowed to exist. That I am ready to exist, be seen, be different among the same. That I am accepting myself, healing myself. That I am ready to go back into Ruby’s world and ground it to the earth. Whereas before it was in the ethers...she was still in the ethers with Marianne. That she and Marianne are ready to merge and come out from behind the veil of darkness and void and believe in their own story. That I can take the nitty gritty pieces that need to now come together. That I can give the time to complete and sew together the last threads. That I am ready to know that this is the story, this is the time. This is the place. That I wake up and write, what I can write, just like I did before. That I don’t have to rush, that I can give space and time and patience to this new level of completion. Patience, time and love. I can feel the fear in that. I don’t know why I fear it, I just do. Patience, time and love. That I have the time and That I will live to see this happen.
Death, illness and insanity...you’re going to make it...
Thursday, November 11, 2010
like I force my body through the tiny hole of lies
every time I spend too much,
give too much,
or overstay a situation too long.
I need to take that credit card and rip it up,
so I have no debt or obligation
like I need to close the door tight
when I am done with a phase
or deal, or relationship..
When it is over...it is over....
I need to know that.
And when a credit card doesn't serve to delight,
but causes fear and stress
my heart needs to close tight,
just like my wallet when the thing I am buying,
or the time I am spending
doesn't work f or me anymore
sucks me dry until there is only a morsel of a tear left
that I can barely feel on my cheek...
I pay the price with every breath
when I don't move on..
when I don't follow my dream
to the back doors of Broadway theaters
concerts, art, Monets and Picassos
I need to dive into the ocean
allow myself to drift to another continent
or I will pay with my afterlife
and have to come back and do this over and over
until I know to stop buying and paying
for things that mean nothing to me
so I need to eat the lava of the volcano
swallow it whole and stop, just stop it
stop doing what I don't want to do
the anxiety and panic of paying for nothing,
satisfaction not guaranteed..
when I was young I wanted to travel the world,
I wanted to be an actress
have one Italian affair after another
with young muscular, self endowed men....
when I don't live up to my imagination,
then I am left under the covers, shivering, empty and cold.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Thick, pulsating, red, bulging beatings to my heart and soul. You feel too much, you want too much, you need too much. Too much. Deep down the mother scar, the crack of the bone, the tear of skin, the blood that bleeds from the heart. Love me, says the little girl, love me, pick me up and cradle me. But there is no mother to be found. No mother except the one sitting on the edge of the toilet slitting her wrists…she runs through the streets naked screaming, tearing her hair from her head, then she runs after me like an alligator opening her big jaw and sharp teeth and pulls me under the tub water, I can’t breathe, help…I am drowning in the snoot and goo of the darkness of my mother’s mental illness. She wants to destroy her own children, she is Medea, murdering her children.
What do you carry
I carry a hump on my back that looks like a mountain that rises from beyond the horizon. This is the hump that carries self hatred, resentments and jealousies...of loneliness and despair. It comes from the last time I died from the death of my sister. The last time I put the flower on my mother’s dead body…The last time my father held my arm before he died and said, “I love you.” A declaration he never expressed while alive. I carry the black hole of hunger for eating the earth and sun and stars. The black hole where the Shekinah has to fill or I might never be human again.
What do you drive and what drives you
I drive a big red SUV where I clap my hands and it starts to roar and race down the road. It holds me safe and tight and I can slide with ease, a mother to the world…This drive to connect, to be one with the earth, like my car to the road...this need to feel the wheels hitting each rock, each pebble, each stone unturned under my feet, like the wheels of the car to cross across mysterious terrain that can either eat me alive or ignite me to life.