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Read Gene Yang's American Born Chinese

Read Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese

Day 8 was a day off. I had lunch with Gene Yang. He recommended The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Just ordered it. Will do a book review about it soon. Have you read it?

Day 9, Laura Ruby gave a talk on Emotion in Fiction. Laura talked about how the main subject of fiction is emotion, but emotion is surprisingly hard to convey. “You cannot name it,” she said.

“I feel sad.” Boo.

Instead, as writers, we must think about what emotion feels like in the bodies of our characters and describe emotion through that lens. Though, Laura warned us to stay away from lungs and hearts (because it’s overdone). Instead, focus on facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.

Next, Ron Koertge lectured on poetry in prose or the novel-in-verse. He reminded us that our words have meaning, but they also have music. As a writer, you can match the musical sound of your words with the movement in the scene for a certain effect. That’s like late revision business (at least, it is for me.)

If you care about the music of your prose, Ron said, “Read poetry every day of your life. Read it out loud as you walk around your room.”

My recommendations: Billy Collins, Matt Rasmussen, or Deborah Keenan. These poets write for adults, but I love their way with words!

Here’s some more Ron wisdom on making mistakes. In his session, we were rewriting some lines of poetry. Someone said something that was a misstep away from our rewriting goal. We, as a group, weren’t getting it. We laughed at ourselves. Ron said, “Why don’t you laugh in your studio when you make mistakes? Instead, you chastise yourself. I laugh at myself all the time.”