Becoming Your Inner Black Cat: Writing the Surrealist Memoir

What? A FREE workshop with Ariel Gore 

Saturday, September 16, 11am-1pm

The Bureau of General Services  Queer Division

208 W 13th Street #210, New York, NY 10011 

We’ll meet for a 2-hour workshop where we’ll generate new work, experiment with genre (How could magical realism or surrealist elements help us tell a difficult story? What ARE the boundaries between fact and fiction?) and structure, take writing we’ve already drafted or new writing through thought-provoking revision stations, and break ourselves out of any worn-out limits. Bring something you’ve been working on or just show up with your computer—or pen and paper.

This workshop is open to writers of all experience levels. Limited to 20 participants. RSVP by emailing wren@feministpress.org by September 1st 

Join us for the launch of Ariel Gore’s WE WERE WITCHES

Magic spells and inverted fairy tales combat queer scapegoating, domestic violence, and high-interest student loans in We Were Witches by Ariel Gore

Sept 9 – Santa Fe – Collected Works – 6 pm
with Miriam Sagan
Sept 11 – Seattle – Elliot Bay – 7 pm
Sept 12 – Portland – Powell’s on Burnside – 7:30 pm
Sept 14 – New York – Bluestockings – 7 pm
Sept 15 – Brooklyn – Powerhouse Arena – 7 pm
with Katherine Arnoldi & Mutha Magazine
Sept 25 – Minneapolis – Moon Palace Books – 7 pm
Sept 26 – Iowa City – Prairie Lights – 7 pm
Oct 6 – Albuquerque – Book Works – 6 pm
ABQ Zine Fest Feature with Tomas Moniz
Oct 8 – Santa Fe – Op.Cit Books – 2 pm
with Barbara Robidoux & Tomas Moniz
Oct 21 – Baltimore – Atomic Books – 7 pm
We Were Witches is available for pre-order from your local independent bookstore

Winter Manuscript Workshop: Finish Your Book — Or Start a New One

The Summer Manuscript Workshop has been so magical, manifesting books in the world every year, we decided to try it in the dark of winter . . . 

TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE WINTER MANUSCRIPT WORKSHOP

Online Class Taught by Ariel Gore

January 5th – March 31st

 

Workshop size is limited. Please sign up early.

Spend the first months of the new year finishing your book . . . or start a new one. In this 12-week workshop, you’ll generate new material for your book, polish what you’ve already got with weekly and monthly feedback, learn traditional and nontraditional plot structure, experiment wildly, and make your book reality.

Here are two of the latest books to come out of the summer manuscript workshop:

Several years ago I had a vague idea for a book and on a whim I signed up for Ariel Gore’s manuscript workshop just to see what would happen. Signing up for that workshop was one of the best writing decisions I have ever made. Ariel’s incredibly supportive feedback and constructive critiques, as well as her challenging writing exercises, were instrumental in taking my book from a vague idea to a finished product. I highly recommend Ariel Gore’s workshops to anyone who has an idea that is begging to live on the page.

—Nina Packebush, author of Girls Like Me (Bink Books, 2017)

 

Ariel Gore’s manuscript workshop was the best way to spend a summer—writing, re-visioning, and gaining ever-increasing clarity. We had prompts and activities that kept us focused on getting the bulk of our manuscripts completed in twelve weeks. She’s got the book-writing experience, invaluable insight and artistic commitment to help you organize and write the book only you can write. 

—Jenny Forrester, author of Narrow River, Wide Sky (Hawthorne Books, 2017)

The cost of the 12-week workshop is $580 

A $145 deposit saves your spot.

$145 deposit

 

The Devil is Always Whispering

The Literary Kitchen’s Ariel Gore Talks to Narrow River, Wide Sky Author Jenny Forrester about Writing through What Haunts Us

 
On the Colorado Plateau between slot canyons and rattlesnakes, Jenny Forrester grew up with her mother and brother in a single-wide trailer proudly displaying an American flag…
The lyrical Western memoir she’s created from her memories has been called “an unsentimental portrait of small-town Colorado, a formative environment that both oppressed her and shaped her identity.” 
Jenny Forrester knows how to write about place.
Forward Reviews says, “Forrester doesn’t gloss over the difficult parts of her life, but rather tells stories of how that adversity formed a stronger individual.”
Jenny Forrester knows how not to gloss things over.
Many Literary Kitchen writers know Jenny as a student here, as the quiet force behind Portland’s Unchaste Readers Series—and we’ll soon know her as a teacher, too.
Jenny Forrester is breaking ground.
 
How long did it take you to write Narrow River, Wide Sky?
Twenty years to the final draft before publication.

 

Was there anything in taking that time that, in hindsight, feels particularly valuable?

The most valuable part really does seem to be all those years – I had to live and learn and it all took all that time. I wish it hadn’t.

 

The notion of what a memoir can be has changed so much in recent years—is still changing. What are your thoughts on memoir versus fiction in terms of your own creative expression and the stories you want to tell?

Fictionalizing is kind of what memory does. I mean, I’m not a neuroscientist or anything, but memory is a tricky thing. Even vision is tricky.

Stories are tricky, so if we say it’s all fiction, maybe we’re more honest, but I also know the patriarchy loves for us not to believe our memories, not to believe our stories.

I want to tell stories that matter, that could speak to power, that could tear down big men and bring up little women or show the truth that those men aren’t big and those women aren’t little and maybe gender is a fallacy, but patriarchy wants it not to be so it all seems to matter still. There needs to be a certain amount of fiction involved to topple them and bring ourselves and others up. So I trust memory, too. I trust that putting memory to the page matters. So mote it be.

 

As a small-town girl who has lived in the city for much of your life now, and as someone who grew up in conservative country but writes from a progressive, feminist perspective, what do you see as your unique insight into the multi-layered America we’re living in?

I love this question. I’m always thinking of myself as a small-town girl, as someone who’s been, and been among, the conservative mindset. It never feels like I’m safely progressive, fully feminist—the edge is always so close. I guess that’s unique—that I stand on the precipice and never really see things are changing for Them even though I’m part of a different We now. If that makes sense.

 

I mean, How did this Trump thing happen?

Maybe we don’t progress. We learn, we grow. To go back to the source of my understandings of things—the devil is always whispering and hissing. He never ceases to speak in that slithering way. He never rests.

 

One really interesting thing you do from a craft perspective in Narrow River, Wide Sky is the way that you move through time. Did you outline those movements and transitions or do you work more intuitively?

I can’t outline. That might be helpful, but I draw a lot—maps and circles and pies. I learned that from you. The pie thing. Moving through time is like this—sometimes we’re flying along having fun but the horrors are time-slowing.

I gave more words to the slow movements and fewer when I wanted to speed it up—like running. When you sprint, you take many more steps. When you want to cover distance, you stretch out those strides— fewer steps between mesas and mountains to close up the distance.

 

Kirkus calls the book, “A modest, thoughtful memoir that traces hard-won liberation from the past.” How important is liberation from the past? Do you think it’s possible?

I don’t know. Maybe we’re so much a part of the past and the steps we’ve already taken—we keep looking back to see what’s chasing us because it does seem something always is.

We can grow, we can change, we can move and all, but we live where our imprisonments happened or where the imprisoners live, if you will make allowances for that metaphor.

The places that trapped us, the places we left and we keep looking back like, seriously, did you SEE that? That’s how it is for me. Maybe other people can move on without looking back. I’m not them. I just know shapeshifting is temporary. Mostly, we maintain the forms we were born to.

 

So do you think you’re more or less haunted by the past for writing about it?

I used to believe there was some true answer, some redemptive piece of information I could find. Now, though. I do feel less haunted by the things I wrote about. But there are so many things I didn’t include so I am still working on those hauntings. I’m haunted by so much. I suppose we all are. I’m for facing ghosts. I’m for seeking solace. I’m for seeking freedom. I’ll continue.

 

Jenny Forrester’s debut memoir Narrow River, Wide Sky (Hawthorne Books, 2017) is available wherever books are sold. 

Registration open for the Winter Break Intensive

WINTER BREAK INTENSIVE

Online class taught by Ariel Gore

December 18 – January 1

You won’t have time for holiday stress & consumerist brain-suck. You’ll be writing. The Literary Kitchen’s most popular class — sign up early! — is the Winter Break Intensive taught by Ariel Gore. You’ll get 12 assignment in 14 days December 18th to January 1st. Replace the insanity of the holidays with pure creativity. You’ll generate lots of new material quickly & be ready for an amazingly productive new year.

The intensive costs $185You can pay right here with Paypal or email arielfiona@gmail.com if you prefer to send a check.

We Were Witches

“Forget Freytag’s Pyramid (of predictable male prose)—behold Gore’s upside down triangle (of fierce feminist narrative)! We Were Witches is its own genre, in its own canon.”

—Kate Schatz, author of Rad American Women A-Z

“Ariel Gore’s We Were Witches is one woman’s body refusing to become property, refusing to be overwritten by law or traditions, one woman’s body cutting open a hole in culture so that actual bodies might emerge. A triumphant body story. A singularly spectacular siren song.”

—Lidia Yuknavitch

Coming in September. Pre-order now from The Feminist Press or your favorite bookseller.

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While you’re waiting, here’s your own little Witch Scout spell book—mostly blank, with some instructions. . .

$7 each (includes shipping)

Or 5 for $25 (U.S. delivery only)

Fall workshops open for registration!

SEPTEMBER INTENSIVE: WRITING ABOUT REPUBLICANS

NEW CLASS WITH JENNY FORRESTER

September 9th to 23rd - Online Course

It’s a fairly universal experience to disagree with family members sometimes. But what if those disagreements are more like a epic gulfs of bafflement and horror? What if your family members are conservatives? What if they’re Republicans? What then?

Write the conservative members of your family into immortality by bringing your pen and paper to the Thanksgiving table. We’ll write scenes that have the immediacy of fiction steeped in the emotional depths of lived experience.

If you’ve dreamed of leaving a story for posterity to tell your whole truth long after you’re gone or if you’ve dreamed of publishing this story for the world, this class is for you. Maybe you feel compelled to write and see what comes of it—consider the possibilities later. Maybe your childhood home remains within your mind as a bright place or a painful place or a beautiful, long gone now place, but the conservativism or religious authoritarianism remains in your metaphors. Write it all. Maybe even find some peace with it.

Literary Memoir offers the opportunity for growth and expression that other types of writing don’t. It’s not just that we’re writing our life’s memories, it’s that we’re writing our resistance through artistic expression. It’s that we’re writing ourselves resilient. So, in this class we’ll talk about what makes memoir literary.

Cost for this class is $185

A $45 deposit saves your spot

 

Jenny Forrester is a longtime teacher and the author of Narrow River, Wide Sky, out now from Hawthorne Books.

 

LIT STAR TRAINING 

The Original Literary Kitchen Online Creative Writing Workshop

Taught by Ariel Gore 

September 23 – November 22

A new session of Lit Star Training – the 8-week-plus writing course taught by Ariel Gore – starts September 23rd. Writers in Lit Star Training spend at least a few hours each week on their writing and online critiques. You can log in any time of the day or night. Writers in the group are new and seasoned, wanting to work on memoir or fiction. The class works as well for those writing to weekly assignments and for people who are beginning or working on longer projects.

The class is $295. A $95 deposit saves your spot.

You can pay the deposit right here:

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IOWA CITY, IOWA: FUCK SHAME

September 27, 6 – 9 pm

Fuck Shame Writing Workshop with Ariel Gore & Shell Feijo

Iowa City

Ariel Gore will be reading at Prarie Lights Books in Iowa City the night before–come to town early . . . 

Come get cozy, write, share, and relax in a safe space with award winning author Ariel Gore, in town for her We Were Witches Book Tour, and Shell Feijo, local writer, teacher, and speaker.

We will gather in a home on the Eastside of Iowa City from 6-9 p.m. September 27th, the night after Ariel reads at Prairie Lights Books – make it a two night retreat!

Salt and chocolate, coffee, tea, and wine provided. Bring yourself and whatever you write with (journal, laptop, phone).

Register here! Space is limited.

$40

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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Ariel Gore’s School for Wayward Writers Presents

THE WITCHFEST WRITING RETREAT - WORKSHOP FULL, EMAIL arielfiona@gmail.com to find out about public elements of the retreat!

October 5-9, 2017

Affordable Sliding Scale

Join Us For . . .

 

Narrative Resistance Writing Workshops with Ariel Gore: We’ll formally meet for two 2-hour workshops where we’ll generate new work, experiment with genre and structure, take writing we’ve already drafted or new writing through thought-provoking revision stations, and break ourselves out of any worn-out limits. Bring something you’ve been working on or just show up with your computer–or pen and paper.

Publishing Skillshare with Rad Dad publisher and Indie-press author Tomas Moniz: A conversation / skillsharing discussion on the pros and cons of DIY publishing versus indie press publishing, book tour experiences, and marketing. Come ready to share your thoughts as well.

Chef-prepared traditional New Mexican family dinner (Yes, there will be green chile apple pie.)

• Word & Image with Rebecca Fish Ewan Push the boundaries of form and genre with the founder of Plankton Press “where small is big enough” & author of the forthcoming graphic memoir By The Forces of Gravity.

ABQ Zine Fest — with optional space at the Wayward Writers exhibitor table — bring your zines and books!

Field trip to Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return.

We Were Witches book launch & Wayward Writers reading in Santa Fe and/or Albuquerque.

REGISTER NOW

SLIDING SCALE $45 – $175

Includes writing workshops, publishing skillshare, chef’s family dinner, and space at the Wayward Writer’s table at the ABQ Zine Fest. Pay whatever you like or whatever you can.

Just click “donate” and input the amount you’ll pay. Don’t be shy. All are welcome.

Ticket for Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return will be $10-$18 additional.

Accommodations & transportation not provided, but we’ll figure out carpools, etc., to everything.

Workshops & dinner will take place on Osage Avenue near Frenchy’s Park.

* Scheduling details subject to change. Full schedule will be posted in late July. Email arielfiona at gmail dot com with any questions.

Suggested excursions that may require advance booking:
Ten Thousand Waves (https://tenthousandwaves.com)
Talis Fortuna tattoo (talisfortuna.com)
Santa Fe School of Cooking (https://santafeschoolofcooking.com)
Ojo Caliente (one more hour north of Santa Fe—awesome excursion if you’re staying an extra day or two!)
Santa Fe, New Mexico is one hour northeast of Albuquerque and is served by the Albuquerque airport.

If you’re flying into Albuquerque, we recommend making a reservation on the Sandia Shuttle, renting a car, arranging with other participants to share a rental car, or catching the RailRunner train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe (train runs on a limited commuter schedule.)

We recommend planning to arrive in New Mexico by Thursday evening. Retreat activities begin on Friday and go through Monday morning.

Recommended lodging for those with a car—let’s take over this place. The housekeeper/handylady is a badass local artist: Suitable Digs

 

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BALTIMORE

Mismatched Socks: The Secrets to Writing and Publishing Whatever You Want

THE BALTIMORE WRITING & PUBLISHING WORKSHOP

With Ariel Gore & China Martens

October 20 – 22, 2017

Friday evening & Saturday afternoon:
Experimental Narrative Workshops led by Ariel Gore
We’ll meet two hours on Friday evening & three hours on Saturday to generate new work, experiment with merged genres and disruptive structure, take writing we’ve already drafted or new writing through thought-provoking revision stations, and break ourselves out of any worn-out limits. Bring something you’ve been working on or just show up with your computer–or pen and paper.
Sunday morning: Dream Publishing Workshop led by China Martens
On Sunday, we’ll meet for our final three hours to map out the steps to making your book/zine/chapbook/essay dream a published reality. We’ll explore the ins and outs of creating and publishing anthologies & other dream book projects. We’ll approach radical editing as an act of love, build our bios, demystify the book proposal & call for submissions processes, and make a plan to materialize the project you’ve been thinking of. 

China Martens is the author of The Future Generation (Atomic Books, 2007 and PM Press, 2017) and co-editor of the anthologies Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind (PM Press, 2012), and Revolutionary Mothering (PM Press, 2016).

Ariel Gore is the author of ten books including We Were Witches, a novel / surrealist memoir. Ariel will read from this new work at Atomic Books—just a block from where our workshop will be held on Falls Rd.–on Saturday night.

 

Space is super limited, so please sign up early. Tuition is $175.
A $55 deposit saves your spot:
 
Or pay the $175 now here:

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PERSONAL ESSAY INTENSIVE

ONLINE CLASS TAUGHT BY ARIEL GORE

November 25 – December 6

The personal essay is one of the most enduring and adaptable literary forms, allowing for experimentation and a dissolution of the traditional boundaries between memoir and journalism. Over the 12-day intensive we’ll write every day, survey the form, complete five new essays, explore the market, and polish at least one personal essay for publication.Workshop size is limited, so please sign up early. 
Full tuition is $185

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Ariel Gore is a LAMBDA Award-winning editor and the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent title, The End of Eve, won a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, a Rainbow Award, and was named one of the 10 best memoirs of the year by Library Journal. Her stories and essays have appeared in Psychology Today, Salon, Ms., Utne, The Sun, The San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere.

New Fall Class: Writing About Republicans with Jenny Forrester

SEPTEMBER INTENSIVE

September 9th to 23rd

Online Course Taught by Jenny Forrester

It’s a fairly universal experience to disagree with family members sometimes. But what if those disagreements are more like a epic gulfs of bafflement and horror? What if your family members are conservatives? What if they’re Republicans? What then?

Write the conservative members of your family into immortality by bringing your pen and paper to the Thanksgiving table. We’ll write scenes that have the immediacy of fiction steeped in the emotional depths of lived experience.

If you’ve dreamed of leaving a story for posterity to tell your whole truth long after you’re gone or if you’ve dreamed of publishing this story for the world, this class is for you. Maybe you feel compelled to write and see what comes of it—consider the possibilities later. Maybe your childhood home remains within your mind as a bright place or a painful place or a beautiful, long gone now place, but the conservativism or religious authoritarianism remains in your metaphors. Write it all. Maybe even find some peace with it.

Literary Memoir offers the opportunity for growth and expression that other types of writing don’t. It’s not just that we’re writing our life’s memories, it’s that we’re writing our resistance through artistic expression. It’s that we’re writing ourselves resilient. So, in this class we’ll talk about what makes memoir literary.

Cost for this class is $185

A $45 deposit saves your spot

 

Jenny Forrester is a longtime teacher and the author of Narrow River, Wide Sky, out now from Hawthorne Books.

 

Sara Kirschenbaum: My Writer’s Altar

Stones are just right for the altar because needing to write is as hard as carrying ten pounds of stones on your bike.

If I was to make an altar to my writing, I would pull the half-rotted wooden box out of the compost pile. The one I carried around with me from Ohio to Boston to Oregon. The one that was my bedside table for so many years. The one I tried to grow carrots in two years ago, cause I just didn’t seem to be able to dig deep enough and loosen my dirt enough, and the carrots would be stunted on the untilled ground. So I filled up my wooden box bedside table with muck from my compost pile and mixed in seeds for different color carrots. I hadn’t realized that my compost had so many weed seeds in it and so all summer I was picking the fennel and morning glory starts out of it.  And the purple and orange and red carrots didn’t grow well and only the white ones came up and by the time I picked all the fennel out, it was the heat of the summer and I forgot to water it enough. I didn’t get one descent carrot out of the whole affair. And maybe, for that reason, it’s a suitable base for my prayers. I’d power wash the dirt off this wooden box, drag it in the house and set it up next to my computer in my office.

Next I would lay (or is that lie?) my white silk scarf over the top of it—the one Dalai Lama gave me and 10,000 other Portlanders when he spoke at the MODA center in 2013. The one I used on my little altar at my garden wedding four months ago to Peggy who doesn’t understand why I don’t write more poetry.

On top of the silk I would put my favorite Nova Scotia stone. A beauty of a rock—flat, oval, sea tumbled grays with a three white stripes around its length. It’s the rock I collected in 1979 on my bike camping trip around Nova Scotia with my gentle boyfriend, Ben. Soon after we crested the ridiculous hills of the Cabot Trail and saw the solitary moose that was our reward and came down the hill to a beach of fantastic rounded rocks of every color and pattern, and even though I already had 60 pounds of gear—food, a stove, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, journal, flashlight, sleeping pad, water—in my orange American Youth Hostel panniers, I could not resist adding another ten pounds of stones to carry half way back around the island, and I treasure them all still over 40 years and five houses later, adorning the shelf in my bathroom. Stones are just right for the altar because needing to write is as hard as carrying ten pounds of stones on your bike.

I’d put my first, smallest and most Day-Glo journal, on my altar:  “April 24 1969 help a blind lady in grocery store to get her groceries for her. One thing I gave her is the wrong size I felt nervous” “April 24 1969 I pick up about 80 pieces of newspaper about 10 papers felt like I was helping N.Y” “lost my bookbag. I got real worried because it was a mean persons book in it. I went up to the science room to work on my project (copper coating a key or making metal molicquels move.)”

I would put my tiny blue Swiss Army knife with a customized “KIRSCHENBAUM” engraved on one side on His Holiness’ silk in honor of Karen Karbo’s sentient declaration that “Writing is like having a knife fight with yourself in a telephone booth.”

My mom says, “My father was a failed writer. He didn’t promote himself. He wrote all the time but he was too nice. He was my mother more than he was my father.” I need something of his on my writing altar. I have his microscopically embroidered bib with a tiny swan made of 1,000 miniscule stitches. But he wasn’t a writer yet when he wore it for protection from rice cereal.  So I will place on my altar one of the few manuscripts of his that has survived the tests of time. It is titled, “SALVAGE ROM THE SEA.”  There are several small handwritten corrections, because it is just too much work to retype the whole thing. Eight pages remain, all burned on the upper right hand corner and along the right side, from the fire that burned down his house.

Onto the alter I would drop a handful of Trader Joe’s coffee candies to honor my 33 year old self, keeping awake to study for my MFA while I was raising two kids with an unfaithful sex addict massage therapist husband. One candy = ½ hour longer awake.

I need a candle on my altar.  I have a half-used-up one I made back in my beekeeping days, before colony collapse discouraged me. My kids poured our wax into a galvanized star-shaped column around a cotton wick held in place with putty.  Now twenty years later the candle’s center is burned halfway down and the sharp edges of the star stand tall. It still smells like the smoking burlap from my smoker, and the sweet brown smell of thousands of bees working tirelessly, masticating the clear wax with yellow pollen from our sunflowers, our marigolds, our dahlias.

Lastly I will leave my post-it-note list of words, correctly spelled, that I can’t for the life of me spell: separately—opening—beginning—separation—across—each other —a little— maintenance.

What you will not find on my writing altar: any admonitions in any form to write 250 words a day, to write from 6 am to 7 a.m., to write lousy first drafts, to write every day, to write what I know, to write what I don’t know, to show and not tell, to tell and not show, to show and tell, to “build pockets of stillness into my life,” to write an outline, to “above all, just write!”

 

Find books by Sara Kirschenbaum at blurb.com/user/store/Willowbrook or follow  scherrytree on Instagram.