Tag Archive | Seattle

A Lollapalooza for Writers – What I Learned at AWP in Seattle

seattleawpimagesI just got home from AWP in Seattle. For those who haven’t heard of it, AWP is this massively huge swarm of writers that descends on a different city each year. This year, AWP took over the Washington State Convention Center, an Annex and the Seattle Sheraton. Someone told me that the total number of people registered was 14,000. Unless you count music festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella, I’ve never been around that many people in such a concentrated space.

There are oodles of writing-related panels. In fact, for every time slot, there are, oh, I don’t know, twenty or more different offerings. And then there are outside events, readings, contest winner announcements, drinking with some vague literary theme in mind, and then more panels. There’s also a bookfair, which is huge. This one was split into two separate rooms, that’s how huge it was. Booths everywhere. Books everywhere. Writers milling around booths and looking at books everywhere.

I was a total AWP virgin, open to all kinds of impression and experience.

So, here are some things I learned over the last three days:

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Help Me Design a Movie Poster!

screenwritingAll right, you awesome, smart and creative readers, I’d love your input!

I’m taking a screenwriting class, and we’re supposed to design a movie poster for the project we’re working on. And I would love some help brainstorming on this!

It has to have:

  • A title
  • An image
  • A tagline (one sentence enticing description of the film, like what you see on a DVD cover)

And for those that don’t know how to use any graphic design programs (like me, visual art is so not my strong suit), we just have to describe it.

The problem? I don’t have a title yet, or an image, or a tagline! Ooops!

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Food Bank

foodbankindexFinally our names are called, one by one, and we get our bags. I peer into mine. “Ice cream, no way!” I never dreamed they’d give us dessert.

When we unpack back at home, I see that’s mostly what they give us. There’s cake and bags full of Christmas cookies. I open it and pop one red-and-green sprinkled cookie in my mouth. “Kinda stale,” I say, “but better than nothing.”

There are chicken poppers, catfish sticks and cans upon cans. At the bottom of all of our bags are onions and potatoes. “Not bad,” I remark as we fold our bags up and close the cabinets. Sadly, this is the most food I’ve had on hand since my grocery shopping spree when I first moved to Seattle, more than two months ago.

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Writing as Time Travel – Blue Alchemy 1

Writing about your own past is surreal. You’re reliving it. You’re at Fox Cabin at blind camp with the blue vinyl couches in the living room and the orange, white and yellow checked curtains in the bedrooms. You’re eight years old, unable to sleep because you’re terrified of your parents because Mom was getting hysterical again today and maybe this time she’ll really lose it or Dad’s smoldering rage will erupt, so you’re reading Nancy Drew by the night of your night light. You’re riding King County Metro after being rejected from both blood plasma donation for cash (your temperature was too low) and staying at the Green Tortoise Hostel for work-trade, knowing you only have three days until you and your roommates get evicted. You stare out the window watching as the bus passes through the hilly streets of downtown Seattle, thinking dark thoughts like maybe homelessness would suit you because you’ve always felt like an orphan anyway. You’re skulking by a payphone outside 7-11 in the outskirts of Seattle while your roommate is across the parking lot buying pot. You’re swimming in Puget Sound, not long after sunset, and the water is so cold that you’ve never felt more alive, and it suddenly, truly, deeply feels like all you’ve been through was somehow worth it to be here now, in the water, your limbs feeling heavier as you get closer to shore, and you’re unable to stop looking back at the cerulean dusk and the fading pink on the western horizon.

You’re all of these places but you’re also sitting on your bed writing in your little room with your books and notebooks stacked in milk crates, your window slightly open to let in the sounds of the Orcas ocean and the slow creak of cedar trees swaying in the wind, trying not to think about the boy who lives down the hall from you or the girl in his room. Or you’re writing in the fluffy brown chair in your apartment, wondering if you should get rid of it because your ex-boyfriend left it when he went to jail and do you really need any more reminders of him? But on the other hand it really fits the color scheme of your room and is really comfortable to write in.

In the story you are writing it might be fall while in reality when you are writing it, it’s summer solstice. And yet, the more you write, the more you swear that the light coming in through your windows is so distinctly autumnnal. You can almost smell the foliage.

There is something haunting about being in more than one experience at once. It’s like how it felt when I first came home from college after months of being away. Walking into the living room with its dark blue patterned furniture and light blue pleated blinds felt almost like an out-of-body experience. Everything was always slightly off from what I remembered, like all the colors or the feelings I associated with them had all made the slightest of wavelength shifts on the electromagnetic spectrum, just a few angstroms, nothing you could quite articulate or measure but sense nonetheless. Writing memoir is like that, I’m in two places in time, two times at once, memory and present tense, and they are so distinct and yet so muddled that it’s hard to tell which one I’m living in more.

~~~

For more samples, look here.

This is an excerpt from my most recent piece of writing, a personal essay called “Blue Alchemy,” about writing memoir, and the slipperiness of writing and memory.

~Emilia J

The Killing: Crime Writing, Endings and the Season 2 Finale

The Killing (U.S. TV series)

The Killing (U.S. TV series)

Last week, I wrote about Breaking Bad and endings in this post, and today I’m going to look at another show’s season ending, and discuss some writerly things about endings in general, particularly for crime writing.

Spoiler Alert: If you aren’t caught up and don’t know who did it, go get caught up…then come back.

Sunday, June 17th was the big Season 2 finale of AMC’s The Killing. Like with Breaking Bad, I came to The Killing late in the game and just started watching it this year. There are a lot of things I really like about this show, most notably atmosphere.

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I Am Going a Little Crazy

Another oldie, from Christmas Eve 2008.

Slowly, but surely.

So, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m awake and wired and have absolutely nothing to do.

It’s been snowing like crazy for the last week and a half. When it started I was in Seattle at a Christmas party with friends, and the next morning we couldn’t get through the road. The next day I came back to Orcas and had a semi (but not terribly exciting)-adventure returning. And then it snowed and snowed and snowed some more. It’s the most snow I’ve seen in the northwest, and it’s my sixth winter here. It’s wild, and awesome.

I’m loving it. It makes me want to go make snow angels and snowmen and build forts and have wild snowball fights. The roads are a mess, I mean solid ice covered in inches of snow. Walking anywhere that’s not a trodden path or shoveled walkway is deliriously fun, I sink in halfway up to my knees.

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Is finished ever really finished?

writing-is-the-artYesterday was my target date. I was supposed to have the next draft of the book totally DONE.

Technically, I made it. Sometime Wednesday morning before work, I finished revising the last paragraph of the last chapter. I want to talk some about the process of writing this book.

It all started the first summer I lived on Orcas Island. I’d just made it out of hell and narrowly escaped homelessness in Seattle. I was offered a kitchen job at the camp that offered housing, which was my own room to myself, and food, and year-round work, sort of. I was staying somewhere, for the first time in years. I wasn’t fully on my feet but for once I didn’t have to worry about basic survival.

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