The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Maui Writers Wrapup

Well, we're back (and jet lagged as heck--WIERD jet lag, too.  I'm used to going east.  This was traveling West, and my body didn't know quite what to make of it...)
At the conference there were about two thousand avid writers, people who wished, with varying amounts of desperation and commitment, to break into publishing.  I had some great students for my retreat group, and pushed them to write a story every day.  In that way, I was able to do a tremendous amount of work, to show them the real relationship of story to character.  My current model suggests that character, plot, and poetics (quality of language and imagery) combine to control theme, which sits, invisible, in the center of the triangle.  God knows that thematic interpretations are often out of the control of a writer's conscious mind...
But it is possible to create a creative space where your true beliefs and values poke through.  A lady recently asked about the thematic interpretation of "Woman in the Wall," a story about an American woman trapped in a disease-ridden refugee camp.  The story is coming back to me as I write this...and I believe that the theme had to do with the trap of seeing ourselves as different from those around us, yes.  Glad you understood that, Kathleen.
So many earnest people, so much actual talent.  I met unpublished writers of real  promise, people who can actually craft careers if that is what they genuinely choose to do.  The resources necessary to get to Maui are considerable, so they tend to be better organized than average, and not a crazy in sight (something rare for a writing conference!)
A new event was "Speed Editing" where writers can buy fifteen minutes of a professional's time for twenty-five bucks.  I had a great session (a nashville song writer who immediately grasped what I was saying) and a not-so-great (a lady who seemed a bit confused and defensive) but overall, it was fantastic, and draining, to interact with people as intensely as this.  While I was there I went snorkling, tandem Parasailing, and Nicki went horseback riding and did some exploring with poet John Timpane and his terrific family.  Great to make new friends.  But all of the fun in the sun was draining, and today has been a sleepy day...wrote sixteen hundred words of ad copy for my new writing course, and then went to see "The Cave."  Beautiful, mediocre movie.  More on that later.
Maui is wonderful.  Can't wait til next year...

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