A Few Minutes and a Well-Lit Screen

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Those who secured an egg salad sandwich or a small plate of veggies and hummus, a chair or section of couch and a spot to see the writers of Thread read their work, know it’s so: Thread: A Literary Publication enjoyed a magnificent launch last Wednesday evening at the cozy Curt’s Cafe.

But you who came out, parked and then couldn’t find a place to put yourself, who knew? I offer you free admission to the next reading!

For you who couldn’t be there, let me set the scene: An overflow crowd of people sat quietly as nine writers read their essays on a variety of subjects from Lee Reilly’s caregiving curiosity about the life of her charge in “Finding Nancy H.,” to the raging hormones of Anne Heaton’s mid-pregnancy in “Crazy Bird” to what it feels like to want to light up a joint in Timothy Parfitt’s “Smoke Screen,” remember something good about one’s not-so-terribly good father in “The Bath,” or be Tom Wolferman in a job, outgrown, in “A Paper Trail.” It was a night of stories reflecting human experiences across the lifespan. A celebration not only of writers and the premiere issue of Thread but an evening devoted to the truth and beauty of the personal essay. My favorite of all the written forms!

Here’s what the cafe looked like before it was filled with story lovers:

 

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And here’s what it looked like after:

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And if you wanted to get some air in between readings, this is what it looked like from the street:

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Thread will be hosting three readings a year – the next one in April – to coincide with the release of each new issue. I’m already looking for a larger venue, so stay tuned about that! But for those of you who can’t make it for the readings on a Wednesday night, you’ll just have to find a few minutes and a place where you can read from a well-lit screen to soak up these artful word journeys.

What I love about personal essays is that they are indeed personal – sometimes painfully so – and yet the best ones touch on something in the reader, something universally human, and it has the potency to not only move us but even, possibly, to change us just a little bit.  Take Robert Grubb’s “Imprint.” A connection is made from a grown son to his mother when a memory is evoked by a new puppy who is trying his patience.

Here’s what all of the writers – and I –  looked like after the reading:

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I’ll be looking for submissions for future issues beginning in mid-January 2015.  Go to the Submissions Guidelines page of the Thread site for more about that. And so that you don’t miss reading dates and publication releases and posts about writing and creative process, take a minute to subscribe to this blog and to Thread.

Photographs by Jill Howe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Wishes Can Come True

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Is the prospect of a long, cold winter weighing you down?

Revise that old script you have for winter.  It’s a great time to get back to your writing!

If you’ve been thinking about working with a writing coach, but the price has kept you from giving it a try, this is the time!

Until December 31st, 2013, I’m offering  a 25% discount for a one-hour coaching session and a 30% discount for three or more sessions. So if you are working on a personal essay for publication or pleasure, a memoir, a family history, dissertation, academic paper or essay for college or graduate school applications, take advantage of this first-time-ever fee!

If you were thinking about purchasing coaching time for a friend, consider a gift certificate at this greatly reduced price. Certificates are good for 2014 but must be purchased before December 31, 2013.

For more information about this holiday purchase price or gift certificates, email me at ellen@ellenblumbarish.com.

All the best for this holiday season. Hope to see you in 2014!

Warm wishes,

Ellen

 

 

 

 

 

Writing as Risk

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She’s writing a memoir of that year in Paris to remember. He wrote the academic journal article on book preservation for professional advancement. She’s finishing a personal essay on that anxious stretch of time during her pregnancy for fun. He described how his dreams inform his painting for that college application essay. She wrote a summary of a medical journal article for a school assignment.  He’s putting the final touches on a collection of essays on family life that spans fifty years for posterity.

Writers bring their words to the page or screen for a range of reasons and in a multitude of forms. But with each project – work I’ve been witnessing from my private coaching clients – no matter what the mission, there is risk in the writing.

There’s so much at stake. Hurting someone’s feelings. Inaccuracy. Negative response. Rejection. Changing your mind. Putting your work out there. Getting your work out there, and not feeling seen or heard. Like taking a running leap from a lush green pasture into a white, open sky.

Continue reading “Writing as Risk”

Summer Isn’t Just for Reading

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Photo by Ellen Blum Barish

With its flood of light, summer may be time to read, but for those of us who like to write, it is, most definitively, writing season. Time to curl up on your favorite armchair with your laptop on your knees or sprawl on a café table with a Sharpie and a yellow legal pad. Pick your position and your tools. Read something well written. Add a well-selected prompt. Claim 20 minutes (30 if you can!) Mix in a deadline, some friendly feedback and you have, most definitively, impetus to write.

If you are looking to rouse slackened writing muscles or just keep them from atrophying, let me help facilitate. I’m teaching two writing workshops this summer – a six-week Tuesday evening workshop and an eight-week Wednesday afternoon workshop to accommodate all schedules.

Identify the stories that are circling around you, stalking you, or taunting you to write them, and transform them into personal essays, memoir, or even short fiction in my Tuesday evening workshop titled “Find Your Story” at StoryStudio Chicago beginning on June 4th.

If you can’t get enough of personal essays, then consider my Wednesday afternoon workshop at New Trier Extension that starts June 5. In this eight-week workshop, “A Close Look at Personal Essay,” we’ll read essays that fall into themes and write our own based on our discussions. You can find the online catalogue here (go to page 38 for the workshop description and details), and fill out the online form or register by phone at (847) 446-6600.

It’s easy to keep that picture of yourself writing in your head. This summer, commit to taking it from your imagination to the page. Feel free to email me with questions or if you’d like me to direct to one of my former or ongoing students. You can learn more about my background and teaching style here.

Or, if you’re thinking you’d rather do this without a group – one-to-one –  I’m scheduling private coaching sessions this summer utilizing my workshop readings and assignments so you can join in from the comfort of home via screen or phone receiver.

May the words you read this summer be your own!