Tag Archives: workshop

Craft Matters

I’ve held two workshop series (four weeks each) since the start of the year and I’m now planning the third (to begin later this month).

April 2018

I recently wrote this reflection on the last series.

The purpose is to jump start writing, enhance understanding of craft, get projects started, move projects forward, expand awareness of creative writing, yours and others, and to just write. I’ve tried to keep the price reasonable with several payment options, focused themes so that it doesn’t feel rushed and scattered, and avenues to participation for people resident in Antigua and Barbuda and elsewhere.

I’m hoping to keep this going all year long as long as there is even one person who’s interested. It gives me the opportunity to engage with the written word and, hopefully, also give writers or writers in the making or anyone who’s just looking for a creative outlet, even students looking to improve their understanding of literature or ability to express themselves, the opportunity to improve confidence and competence with the written word. The focus is on the creative (fiction, specifically) and on craft, each series focusing on a particular aspect (setting 1, plot 1 in the first two series; the third, by request, likely focusing on character – which is my favourite in to a story as a writer; so I look forward to it). A workshop on character should prove useful for those trying to write compelling characters or understand how characterization works. My approach is a mix of presentation, interaction, creation of your own, and examination of the works of others.

As I write this, I’m reminded of a running debate on whether craft matters – this or that critic might question its quality but if people like it, isn’t that what really matters? For my part, I won’t deny that reader engagement matters but I prefer to engage the reader with good writing (it’s why I’ve taken writing courses and workshops over the years). But isn’t ‘good writing’ subjective? What is ‘good writing’ meant to do if not engage? Job done.

I’m not the final word on any of this, but as creatives we want to grow and move, right? In my opinion – while like or dislike for something is subjective (with a few exceptions because some things are just objectively bad and some things are good whether or not they’re personally to your or my taste as a reader, listener, or viewer), there are deliberate choices you can make as a writer, if you understand what you’re doing, that can elevate the quality of the work. Can an untrained writer write a great book out of the gate? Of course. Can a writer with all the letters behind his/her name signaling accomplishment write a trash book? I think so. But as with anything, with writing, with art, while there is that je ne sais quoi, there are what Stephen King refers to (in his book On Writing) as the “toolbox” of skills from which a competent writer can draw. I don’t necessarily think you have to have those letters behind your name to have it – lots of independent study, reading, and practice practice practice can help a determined writer hone his/her skills. I think of creating as talent + inspiration + life (both observing and participating in it) + sitting and putting in the work + craft, and I think craft matters. It matters to me as a reader; sloppy writing will turn me off and may make me quit a book – even though my instinct is to fight through, finish what I start.

When the judge’s report for this year’s Wadadli Pen indicated that one story had edged out another “because of the quality of writing”, having read both stories, I understood the point.

I’ve had people tell me – more than once as it happens – that they felt like throwing my book – more than one of my books (!) – across a room, but, so far, it was because they were so caught up in this or that plot or character point; not, knock on wood (though I have had my share of bad, mixed, and lukewarm reviews), because they thought the writing was trash.

I remember when I knew I wanted to be a writer having a very clear thought at one  point that I wanted to write the kind of books that could be studied in a school, college, or university but that people would choose to read even if it was not on their assigned reading list in an institution. I mean I’d be lucky to have either right? #greedy Clearly I wanted my books to not only be subjectively popular but objectively (in as much as such things can be assessed objectively) good. I write because it is my passion and because the characters draw me in and because it is how I process life (how I breathe). But I also have a drive to keep improving; it’s the reason I read (well, I also read because I love how a good book can pull you in and take you away) and study other writers, and take workshops when I can. It’s the reason why I try to teach what I know.

Contact me to participate in this workshop if you, too, believe craft matters.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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A & B Arts Round Up – April 10th 2018 —>

This page or series of pages is specific to arts and/or cultural events being held in Antigua and Barbuda.

May 20th 2018 – Call for papers – 13th Annual Conference and Distinguished Lecture (August 16th -17th 2018) – the University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association, and the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy. Details re Call for Papers: UWI-ABSA Conference 2018 Call for Papers

April 28th 2018 – Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Series continues – must register at least one week in advance – can participate from anywhere – several payment options – April 2018

April 21st 2018 – 6:30 p.m. mock logoThe Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2018 Challenge Awards Ceremony at the Best of Books, St. Mary’s Street.

April 16th – 18th 2018 –  3:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Teenagers’ Artistic Expressions In Writing and With Cell-phone Photographs – Instructor, Mali Adélàjà Olatunji Dip. photo, BSc, M.A. The_Art_of_Mali_Olatunji_-_Full_Size_RGB_m– at The Museum Of Antigua and Barbuda (Long and Market Streets, St. John’s, Antigua) – exploring the simplicity of photography with the use of a cell-phone to make pictures of any subjects or objects with the intention to produce images of artistic pictorial expressions; also articulating  intentions in words in the manner of photojournalism to provide a documentary or a visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the usual subjective discourses of everyday life.

April 14th & 15th 2018 – Antigua Opera Society’s first ever performance at Catherine’s Café and the National Sailing Academy. Read more at Antiguanice.com

April 14th 2018 –  the official launch of Brenda Lee Browne’s first novella, ‘London Rocks’, at Cedars Pottery, Buckley’s Main Road, 6pm – 8pm. There will be a reading,  Q&A and book signing – copies of  ‘Just Write Writers Journal’  will also be on sale. An art exhibition featuring original pieces by Browne will be on display. About the Book: New Book from Hansib – London Rocks[1789]
London Rocks

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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“I would recommend this workshop…”

March 2018 workshop

JWP #Onthehustle

 

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REMINDER

Promo Flyer corrected

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January 3, 2018 · 3:55 pm

Jhohadli Writing Project – You don’t have to be in Antigua to Participate

That’s right. For the first time, I’m opening up one of my creative writing workshops beyond who’s in the room.

In both cases – if you’re in Antigua or not – email me jhohadli at gmail dot com for registration details. Try to do so by January 5th as the plan is for the advance kits (which includes preliminary reading) to go out at least a week before the first session (January 13th 2018).

I can tell you that this workshop series will be ongoing with each series focusing on a different aspect of writing, through a combination of engagement with the writing of others, instruction, discussion, writing, and critiquing. The first series’ focus will be on setting.

So if this is an area you’d like to dive in to, explore, improve in – in either the writing or understanding of, contact me.

Promo Flyer corrected

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The Sonnet Explained

Hey guys, how have you been? I’m taking a poetry class this semester and it’s so much fun. I’m learning a lot about the history of various forms, reading so many great pieces I never would have found myself as well as experimenting with these new mediums. I thought I’d ‘briefly’ share what I’m learning […]

via Briefly: Sonnets — maggy liu

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Mailbox – Advice to a Younger Writer

As I write this, the judges are reviewing the submissions to this year’s Wadadli Pen Challenge. This post is inspired by two emails from would-be Wadadli Pen contenders seeking to get better. Time does not allow me to give the desired response to every single message, but I did give some time to these two out of a desire to encourage their efforts to put in the work and improve.

The second emailer wanted to know how she could make her stories shorter. This is a struggle for her, she said, because she likes to include a lot of detail. This is a complaint I’ve heard before with the Wadadli Pen 600 word limit. I do wish that even those who think 600 words is too little would challenge themselves to try it anyway, and that’s the main reason I want to share my response (edited for length, flow, and to excise personal information).

Length does not necessarily translate to more detail. Often, there is a lot of unnecessary detail, or a bloated and meandering plot.

After writing, let it sit for a minute (an hour, a day, a week, a month…however long you need to come at it with fresh eyes). Then, ask yourself, what is the story? Re-read with an eye toward focusing on that – do we need all that backstory? do we need all those asides? what is the pivotal action? does this character really add anything to the telling?

With the short story, you don’t have a big canvas – you’re not telling the story of all the lives of all the people or even your central character’s entire life; just this one chapter in the much more expansive story of their life. You need to narrow (read: sharpen) your focus a bit more in the short story format but doing so is actually good practice for novel writing. Even with the bigger canvas that you have with a novel, you still have to tie off the loose plot threads, and hone in on the details that matter: details that help to reveal character, establish setting or context, enhance mood, or move the plot forward. Moving the plot forward should always be your goal.

In editing, you can see where your plot is stuck in quick sand and where there’s a limb you can use to dig yourself out.

If none of that makes any sense, remember this –

  • read a lot; read a lot of different types of stories, different lengths and genres and styles;
  • write a lot (some of it will not be fit for public consumption but that’s okay, you’re doing it to build your writing muscles);
  • allow yourself the freedom during the writing phase to write badly, to write unrestrictedly, to just write;
  • then learn to be honest with yourself so that you can be clear-eyed during the editing phase (get outside feedback if you can).

In time and with practice you will get better.

Write the stories only you can tell (the stories only you can imagine) – don’t be imitative. And don’t think (at this point) of writing a novel (etc.), think what are the stories I have dammed up in me that need to be told that only I can tell…tell those stories and zero in on why it is so essential that you tell them. That will help guide you.

reading and sharing by Kurne

Scene from my 2013 Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project.

 

Okay, I did that in under 600 words, so I still have time to add that if you want to be notified of future writing workshops, mine or, potentially, WadPen’s, say so in Comments with your email.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, and forthcoming With Grace). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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