Wednesday, March 2, 2016

365 True Things: 339/Anticipation

Over the past few months, I've been signing up for things: workshops, conferences, classes. Self-improvement. And soon, they're going to start crowding into my life. I'm deliriously happy about that!

First, at the end of March, a four-week OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) class on the films of Errol Morris kicks off. Each week we'll discuss a film by this "paradigm-shifting, and Oscar-winning, filmmaker. His films wriggle away from strict documentary rules to demonstrate the impossibility of ever being 'objective.' His subjects have ranged from wrongfully convicted murderers, to naked mole rat researchers, to Robert McNamara—an architect of the Vietnam War. His films are stunning, quirky, genuine, passionate, and deeply insightful."

A friend I visited in Tucson recently has dived feet first into OLLI classes there, and is loving them. So I decided to check out my local offerings. The Errol Morris class was the only one that piqued my curiosity, but I've really enjoyed the Morris films I've seen in the past, so, yeah: I'm excited.

Then, at the beginning of April I'm heading to Boulder, CO, to attend a three-day Writing x Writers workshop, with Pam Houston, Craig Childs, and Luis Alberto Urrea. (Urrea's The Devil's Highway is next up on my 61 Books list.) "Each day will start with a craft talk by one of our faculty members and then participants will split into small groups where they will dissect the art and craft of writing through lectures, writing exercises, and class discussions." I'm excited about Boulder, where I'll spend my first evening with some old friends from Cal; I'm excited to spend a few days with my wonderful sister-in-law, who introduced me to Writing x Writers in the first place; I'm excited to spend four days at the historic Colorado Chautauqua; and of course I'm excited to be privy to the talent and wisdom of the faculty.

In May, for something completely different, I'm venturing into the Gold Country—specifically, the tiny town of Volcano—for a weeklong class in book arts: "Book Jewels: Fastenings and Furnishings for Bookbinders." "Let's grab our pliers and blow torches and get medieval on your books . . . Learn the basic fabrication skills you need to make brass and copper bosses, clasps, corners, front-pieces, and other historic furniture." I've been wanting to kickstart my books art skills, and I figured this class might do the trick. At the very least, I'll get to work with Christine Cox, the active and enthusiastic proprietor of Volcano Arts (metalsmithing, bookbinding, stained glass, marbling, eyelets, and more), and meet a couple of other book artists into the bargain. And have a springtime working vacation in the Sierra foothills.

I may be looking forward to the hotel
as much as the conference
Finally, at the end of July I'm heading to Santa Fe, NM, for the University of New Mexico Summer Writers' Conference, to take two weeklong classes: mornings with BK Loren on psychology and fiction and afternoons with Priscilla Long on prose style. BK's class is exploratory and generative: "We’ll look at the following schools of psychological thought and learn how to apply some of their tools to character development: Archetypal Psychology; Gestalt; Ecopsychology; and Humanistic-Existential Psychology. Each day, we’ll study how the concepts of one of these psychologies can guide character development, and we’ll do exercises based on the specific concepts we’ve learned." Priscilla's class is focused on sentence- and paragraph-level revision—so I'd better get cracking and have some stories I want to work on revising by the end of July. A goal!

The Santa Fe workshop will, I anticipate, be the occasion of another road trip, this one heading through the Rockies and Salt Lake City to visit an MFA buddy.

Now to start thinking about the second half of the year . . .


  1. ok..... now I see the "how's" of it's done. thanks for the tips and again here I am, sitting before work and drinking these entries down for my wake-up. ....I drink so little coffee.