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"Working with Anya has forever changed my relationship to writing, pulling it from deep in my unconscious up into the light of inquiry." -- Annie Lewis

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Fiction Writer; Poet; Teacher of Creative Writing; Manuscript Consultant; Writing Coach; Founder of the Writing for Social Change: Re-Dream a Just World Workshops; Writing Workshop Leader.

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An invitation to join me in the work of writing

Dear Writers,

Take a deep breath, and enter a serious discussion of the craft and issues of writing. This blog is not a daily report of events in my life, though it will certainly let you know what I am up to as a teacher and writer. It is not a regular response to the writing or publishing world, but rather aims to help open the borders that would contain that "world".

But since language is the most collective creation we have, a portal to the worlds outside of us and within us, there is much to be said in community about how it works, and how to access it fully.

Here's how this blog will work: writers at any level of experience and desire are welcome to send in questions about the craft and issues of writing.... [read more]

What happens inside a writer, in a world at war? Who to listen to, in a world at war?

 

The bombing continues, the cities are rubble, are emptied… whose plan… the children are at the center of the explosion, they burst apart, as if the heart of a child were the precise target. Fiercely some hold on to their own holocaust, but as I write a novel, “fiction” you’d say, the characters meet at such a deep level, in my “imagination,” my ancestral memory, my actual remembering, the terrain of the story that is coming up from rubble of lives that were acceptably blown up, tortured, humiliated, massacred, and I tell you, at the level of what exists most deeply within us, there is a common rage and a common agony, and the characters not bound by party and politic, are saying the same thing. The same damn thing. I can hear them. That is what we writers do. With all the enormous complications and specifics, the power dynamics, the long historical wrongs, of which I am aware, the characters see the children ripped apart, and are never the same. They float in and out of history in that blood that drains possibility. The utter lie that dresses horror, they see as a crime of the greatest magnitude. I’d listen to those characters before I’d listen to many pontificating about the why of slaughter. I meet with them as they meet with each other. Their words caress the insides of each others’ mouths, echo, echo, echo… as this human race imagines it is at war, rather than busy at slow and quicker mass suicide with a certain order as to who is slaughtered first, second, in what order, with what means, with what pitying attention or complete lack of compassion. The characters are talking about it, every moment. They are opening their eyes. That is perhaps why literature is still important. I don’t know for sure, but I am listening.

Trusting Our Own Vision, and, the Late Bloomers’ Club

 

For A.M.-C.

 

“The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness”

 

From Galway Kinnell, “St. Francis and the Sow”

 

 

I was a small girl in Brooklyn, between broken English and broken hearts, whispered Yiddish, banned Russian (too much evil at the hands of…), buried Ladino (the language of Jews in the Iberian Peninsula—Spain and Portugal—and beyond), and the constant haunting by all the languages that would have been mine if my ancestors had stayed in one place or another as they fled and journeyed. In Brooklyn, when anyone would sympathetically or derisively mention someone as a late bloomer—and having seen flowers as exotica in the projects, where only hardy yellow forsythia grew; having a mother named for a flower—Rose, but called Rosie, which was rarely her disposition and when it was, blink; I would giggle unheard and envision only a pair of enormous underwear billowing in the breeze on a clothesline like a parachute inflating and zigzagging the sky. Perhaps such bloomers and parachutes, both, were hoping for soft landing but rarely found one.

 

So, long road since that vision. But for many writers, for many who dream of being a writer, for many who cannot even dream but perhaps may find themselves thrown to the work someday, the road is long to writing what truly pleases them, what truly expresses their own complexity and truth, experience and vision, spirit and heart, history and arrival into knowledge.

 

Why?

 

There are many answers, obviously, much to do with economics and responsibilities; trauma and the need to run; oppression and dismissal of one’s gifts in family, community and society. I needn’t go through the deep context of why Malala Yusefzai, a young girl in Pakistan, was shot in the head in 2012 for wanting to read, to go to school and be educated, with all that implies; nor why the “boyfriend” of one of my students in East Harlem would beat her for coming to school, or even wanting to. Or how various kinds of abuse makes one swallow one’s own voice, or not be able to locate it.

 

But I want to address one thing, just one thing, and indeed only a symptom of the larger context, but this may be of use. Indeed, it helps me to understand the large club of “late bloomers,” of which I am most certainly a member, and perhaps to take a look again with the idea that consciousness about something does indeed help make change.

 

For many “late bloomers,” without then going into the vast array of reasons why, there has been a conscious and, likely even more so, an unconscious argument raging within. And I am not here addressing all that may tell someone they are not “good enough” or “smart or talented enough” to be a writer. I want to simply address one symptom of all this.

 

One symptom of many late bloomers (not late bloomers having a great time on a grand journey, learning millions of things, and then turning to writing after many full years) is not believing or trusting one’s own vision, one’s own opinion, one’s own response, one’s own language.

 

We may often wonder at others’ sense of security and confidence, sometimes even their seemingly unquestioning belief in their own gifts and their own point of view. We may spend time trying to assess why they feel that way, or even noting what we may deem (or want to deem) a lack of quality.But, of course, what we need to address is not others’ confidence or blindness or easy road or community of support. What we need to notice is what eats away at our writing, our language, our vision of our creative work. What we need to notice is whether we ultimately look to others for affirmation of what we are doing—or are about to do or would like to do!—or whether we believe in our vision, in the absolute okay-ness of our explorations and experiments and drawing forward of story.

 

What we need to know is whether there is that ogre of doubt devouring—as Chronos/Saturn devoured his own children (bloodily depicted by Spanish painter Goya)—every page of our work—whether before we write it or after, when we may devalue and ignore it. We need to know if Chronos sits in our throat, made small as a trick, but actually filling our language with his bluster and threat and hunger for the blood of our creations. If he is, we will never know our beauty. If he is, we will never know our full power and voice, our completely, or nearly completely, blossomed story and words. If he is, and we do not expel him, at least part or much of the time, word after word, the distillation of life and love of language, of experience and artistry, drops right into that bloody mouth of Chronos and is gone, bone crunched, exploded delicacy of blood vessel, live cell after live cell of words—gone. Gone. Often before we might even have known and loved and shaped those words, and slept as a writer, having bloomed for those moments we so cherish.

 

This kind of late bloomer has been giving away her or his power through the belief that someone else is right, and that one’s own words, stories, visions, writings, cannot be trusted.

 

Turn the head to find the authority.

 

Tell me how to write.

Tell me how to shape it.

Tell me how to structure it.

Tell me how to make the characters speak.

Tell me what they shouldn’t say.

Tell me if flashbacks are ok (they better be! Many writers have them!)

Tell me if this, my heart, makes any sense to you.

Tell me I am wrong, as I feared, and talentless, and I can leave this tightrope.

Tell me what to do.

 

 

Classes in creative writing can be amazing.

 

 

But beware!!! I say this as a “teacher” of creative writing, as someone who has experienced many forms of these kinds of classes and workshops from both ends.

 

 

Beware of those who dictate formulae, rules, conventions. Beware of those with easy, pat little responses; i.e., I don’t believe your character because she is working class, and working class people do not have a large vocabulary.

 

 

This is a pretty direct quote from an upper middle class white male to me…and what saved me was my anger. Knowing, as a very working class person, that many of us, even early on, have been blooming a language of beauty and story, filled with language we hunted down like the precious food it was, not to take it but to note how it echoed our hearts and minds. When we found those words, they were immediately ours. Others came more slowly, or found different purposes. But we get language from reading, from listening, from story, from elders, from kids hanging on the corner, from immigrants; from the sounds of the cities we inhabit (like screech and long howl of subway at South Ferry, later flooded by Hurricane Sandy); from the towns and fields; from spirit—its work and its song, its prayer and its healing, whether its address be stone and marble, altar or dance, the cathedrals of the natural world; from work; and from whatever blessing of word that comes to us, from us, through us; from ancestral memory, and the mix of languages lost and found.

 

 

Blessed anger in me that knew, He was wrong! Here I am! How can he know? His words are all straightforward, unbroken, piled up like first editions on a clean table.

 

I said so. Sometimes the only thing keeping a late bloomer from being a dead and bloomless creature, is anger. “You have said something terrible about me and the people I love, and it is not true! And I am here and alive and can speak and I tell you, it is not true!”

 

 

Sometimes you are believed. Sometimes you are not.

 

 

But I tell myself, and I ask you, my late bloomers club, to take that belief in, that belief in your own vision and language, and experience and love, and aching bones of ancestry and magical songs and foods; take that belief into the flowers of your tongue and soul and art, and bless…each…word…coming…forward.

 

Let your writing, let our writing, be blessed from within, and be born, and bloom.

 

 

Anya Achtenberg

 

 

 

 

3 Online Creative Writing Classes, start dates, January 10 and January 17…

Dear Friends,

 

If you are looking for a place to push your writing to the next step, do it online with me, and with a group of varied and dedicated writers. Rededicate yourself to bringing your writing forward, going to the next level in your craft, getting a fuller sense of your long term projects and writing goals, and building your writers’ community – I’ll be teaching 3 classes online beginning in January, 2013. Details below. I am also working individually with clients on their writing projects, writing issues, and writing craft. The complex causality of events is one of the dimensions of story we work with in my writing classes…

 

One just begans 1/10/13 for Writers.com – registration is open another day or so. Part Two of that class with Writers.com begins 1/17/13.

A third class, one that I teach independently, also begins 1/17/13. Contact me directly on that one.

Facebook folks, see here – https://www.facebook.com/events/424809400923153/?fref=ts
Details:

Classes ONE and TWO of these three classes are at Writers.com. Part ONE began on 1/10/13, and Part TWO begins on 1/17/13:

The classes at writers.com/writers on the net, begin January 10: Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two. These are each 10-week courses for writers of both memoir/creative nonfiction and fiction. New lectures are posted every Thursday, and writers receive feedback every week.

Fee for these writers.com classes, 10 sessions, $340. Contact Mark Dahlby through writers.com/writers

For full descriptions and for registration, please go tohttp://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html#story

For questions about the content or the workings of these two classes, email me at aachtenberg at gmail.com

+++++++++++

CLASS THREE: I will be teaching the class below, independently online, starting January 17. In this independent class, as well as the above Writers.com classes, new lectures are posted every Thursday, and writers receive feedback from me and from a few of the other participants every week. If you’re interested in writing story, or already do, contact me directly at aachtenberg at gmail.com :

The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir

This course addresses some of the larger issues of writing story through a look at the essential elements of story.

We go beyond mechanical approaches to craft, and limited prescriptive definitions of each element of story, to bring in complexity, depth, and new thinking. This class strengthens the tools that you already have, and offers and encourages new ways of thinking and working to go deeper into your work; to make your work coherent at deeper levels; to find ways into the stubborn knots and potent concealed places in your stories; to develop characters that breathe and surprise and move the story; to find language that not only works, but amazes.

Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir

In this workshop, we explore the essential elements of writing story for both fiction and creative nonfiction writers, and how to allow these elements to embody the deeper truths and powerful emotions which move us into writing.

We will work on discovering narrator and point of view; the unfolding of plot; letting subtext work for the story; deepening characterization; context and simultaneity; dialogue; the music of prose; the story’s metaphor; revision; and full development of your story, novel, or memoir. We work with the mystery of human behavior in story form, to deepen characterization and discover plot rather than be constricted by it.

We will tap into the power of the visions and voices of our narrators and characters, and the mix of truth and fiction that creates a world both imagined and real. We’ll learn how to unveil and deepen the subtext of our stories, understand point of view, and use the power of metaphor. We will explore narrative summary, active scene and dialogue; begin new stories and discover ways to complete old ones.

I provide writing suggestions in every session for explorations that both free and deepen participants’ writing, and we share our work in an atmosphere supportive and challenging, tailored to the needs of each participant.

For writers at all levels of experience (and their characters, too).

These are, I believe, all fine and magical classes, solid and liberating.

Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir:
Fee for this independent class, 10 sessions, $350, payable directly to me. I love Paypal but if you use it, there is an added 10$ charge to cover Paypal’s fees to me.

For the Essential Elements of Story class, please contact me directly by email, or call 651-214-9248 I’m ready to answer your questions and register you for this class, which begins January 17.

So, let’s work on story together, whether fiction or nonfiction. Let’s write.
Anya Achtenberg

Writing and the New Year: A request for writers.

Dear Writers and Friends,

 

Almost 2013!

 

I have a request, for you and for myself, for the new year. We have plenty of other work for our imagination to do, and so—let’s free it from that need to imagine we are writers, and write with an imagination freed to do its enormous labor of play and magic!

 

Voices still bothering us? Claiming we are not writers or couldn’t be, poking us with reminders of all that we have to do—must do!! Must do first!!! And second!!! And third!!!! That whole long and deadly list of what we must do—and you know, especially those who know me, that I have a long and deadly list of what I must do before I write, or rather than write—but I am aware, more now than ever, that the list of good and bad and responsible and wild and healthy and mature and frightened and distracting tasks…is item by item a march into prison. A death sentence for my writing. My best and smartest friends, who love me and my work most, urge me to let go much of that list. It seems cleaning the stovetop I can let go before some other things which I believe are of use in the world. Let go some things. Re-organize the numbers, the priorities.

But however you negotiate with your own long and deadly list of what works against your writing, and makes you someone who wishes to write, rather than someone who writes, decide now to knock at least a few items off, or to change to a higher priority that work of writing, if that is what you deeply desire. If you will never be happy unless you write, and write, and write… change/shift/explode that list now, and join me on January 1st, 2013, at any time of the day, for an hour—more if you like, and can—of the most delicious writing, the deepest journey into language, the most fearless facing your subject, your own heart and mind, that you can. Perhaps you want to dedicate this hour of writing to a particular person, one who will remain in your heart all this coming year and beyond; or to a specific event and group of people in struggle or in loss or in growth and joy; or to a character in something you are writing, one who will continue to inspire you, teach you, shake you, and surprise you for the year to come—let that character know you are here and ready to work for them and their story.

 

Write for an hour on January 1, 2013, with the most open path to truth and language and beauty and story. And know that you will stay on that path all year.

 

That is how I will start my new year. Writers, I wish the same for you.

 

Blessings on our work, our hearts, our struggles, our creativity, written and daily and in all we do.

 

Here’s to a very new year.

 

Anya Achtenberg

The terrible story is always bigger than the terrible event.

On December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, around 9:30 in the morning, a gunman entered an elementary school and on a rampage, after killing his mother with one of her guns, killed extraordinarily courageous staff members– teachers, a psychologist, and the principal (all women), and 20 small children, six and seven years of age. Grief came, of course. But as well, the barrage of questioning, why and how. Of course. Then the analysis and the making of the story of this in the United States. “Never before…Now we see what is wrong with our country…” They said, “9/11 changed everything; never before had we been attacked on our own soil.”

I say, I said then, this:

This horror now…so many, so many children. I can’t help but thinking that if you go down into the layers of the text of this country, the story of this country, you find profound violence. If you move out, follow the roads seen and unseen, of the spiderweb, into the present moment worldwide, you find profound violence, some significant parts of that, in some way funded by this country, the United States (of Amnesia). How could this not seep out in a million, in infinite, ways large and small?

Some of what we see in a novel or film or memoir we are deeply moved and shaken by, are the small, specific ways that the results of deep and diffuse causes, that which permeates the fabric of story, seep out and make that pattern of events on the surface of the weaving of story.

(Sad, too, that we can assume the shooter is white, because his race was not identified. Is this part of the story?)


This horror, this terrible loss of so many people, and oh, so many little ones in the school shooting in Connecticut, they say in the media is a shock, the psychologist says, they must go back to normal as soon as possible. But what of the children, the parents, whose “normal” is horror and loss, murder, torture, bombings, mutilations, rapes, sexual slavery? What shall they do? A reporter spoke again of how before 9/11 there was never an attack on “our soil”. I understand this “our,” this “we,” to exclude, then. Wounded Knee and all the genocidal theft that preceded it. The 1920 attack by whites on the Greenwood black community in Tulsa. The destruction of many poor and working class communities to make loveliness for the wealthy. Lynchings. The constant war against women and children. The attack within that vets bring home. The complete attack on rights, psyche and body of the GLBT community. Attacks against immigrants. There are attacks on our soil every day. A list that is infinite, of murder and rape and profound. damage, known and unknown. To say there were never attacks on our soil tells me who “we” is meant to exclude, and yet, no one is exempt.

This sleepy New England town, I grieve for you, in my gut, the unbearable has happened. But the fabric of this loss has covered us all since the first blow, and continues to. Blood flows without care. Is this terrible to say? Or is this my millionth appeal against historical amnesia, against blindness to the world next door, over this and that “border”, blindness to the ones who look expendable to those who say “we have never experienced or expected this…”. This one world is bleeding, and this bleeding must be stopped or every organ, every cell of it will know illness, agony, loss, horror, death.


All this, those children, unbearable, those destroyed families, that shellshocked town, every child who fears school, unbearable. I am sorry to say all this, I am sorry to have to. Wishing strength to all the bereaved, to us all.

Anya Achtenberg

Blue Earth, a novel: update on the recently published book.

Dear Writers, Dear Friends,

I have so much to share with you, and I will be starting to post again, as much as I can on craft, so please watch these pages. For now, I have to tell you about my novel, Blue Earth.

It’s now been a little while since Blue Earth – my 4th book but my first full-length novel, has been published by Modern History Press in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is a book I worked on for a very long time, along with other writing projects, a working class life, and a consciousness which kept me busy on numerous other projects, including organizing groups of writers, artists, filmmakers, and others to visit Cuba and meet their Cuban counterparts, as well as helping to curate and organize Cuban film festivals. Throw in some dancing, sure.

But since the book has come out, I have been doing some traveling for various book-related events around the country, which I will continue to do. A calendar of my goings-on appears on  the calendar page of this website (finally updated!!).And Blue Earth has its own page, not finished but with some useful information.  Like many writers, I suffer from a desire to write that is greater than my desire and ability to publicize my work, but most of us understand that letting people know about your writing is crucial to it being read, and I certainly want that. Indeed, I want Blue Earth to enter the conversation, the dialogue of the planet, and I want that for History Artist, my next novel, still to be completed, and for all my published works and works to come. So, I’m trying!

Wherever I have read from Blue Earth, wherever I have discussed the characters and issues and the writing of Blue Earth, the response has been powerful and vibrant. When a Blue Earth reading and discussion is paired with a writing workshop, some magical things seem to happen.

So I am putting out this call, for my novel Blue Earth, for me as a writer and a teacher of creative writing, and asking you to help get news out about this book:

Buy Blue Earth. Ask for it at your favorite local, independent bookstore. Or, you know how. Read it. Get it into more hands.

Connect me to reviewers at publications you respect; contact me about arranging readings from Blue Earth or my other work; contract me for writers workshops, retreats, visiting writer residencies and events at colleges and universities; help to arrange for my participation in conferences and workshops; get the book into your book club, your college courses.

But contact me. A book that took me more than a decade to write, well, there just might be something in it!

Any question I can’t answer, I will refer you to the publicist for Modern History Press, David Unowsky; or the publisher.

For now, contact me, the author, at aachtenberg at gmail.com or message me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/anya.achtenberg

Thank you all so much.

And good writing and reading to you,

Anya Achtenberg

Blue Earth!! Forthcoming novel — link to the press package!! and for Classes!! Please see the post immediately below this one.

BlueEarthPressPackage_Layout 1

BlueEarthPressPackage_Layout 1

Here is the current press package for my forthcoming novel, Blue Earth (Modern History Press: Ann Arbor), due for publication August 1st, 2012!

The package includes a very short excerpt, a short synopsis of the novel, 2 of the blurbs, my bio, and suggested interview questions.

Please get this package out to people for setting up readings, university residencies and workshops, mentoring of writing students, print and media interviews, etc.

The contact information for my publisher is at the bottom of the material, and you can, as well, contact me at aachtenberg at gmail.com

Thank you so much!!

Writing brings with it more than we bargain for…

Anya

Creative writing classes online. Writing, and the idea of discipline.

Writing and the idea of discipline.


Information on classes online, beginning early May.


I want to suggest a new discipline. I am of course not saying that getting yourself to the desk is not an important part of being a writer. But many of us, for many reasons—including being unsupported in a society that instills competition as a way to art and creativity—have the idea or are somehow involved in the practice of discipline as a kind of self-punishment, a daily dose of affirming some kind of deficiency, or insufficiency, that can make the work of writing feel somehow futile or pointless. A validation of a lack of worth or talent.

So, I want to suggest a new discipline as a writer, not to exclude the “sitting-at-desk-working” aspect of things. But to remind you and me, that this is what we actually want to do. Love to do!

The discipline, then, is simply this:

You are there at that desk to do your work. No one else can do your work. No one. No one else can tell the story, in the voice, that you can, that you have. No one.

So, be nice to yourself. I don’t mean, don’t be rigorous in your work, don’t work hard, don’t revise till you…well, you fill that in. Just know that you are writing what no one else can or will. And I assure you, the more you take this leap of faith, the more you believe there is an astonishment of riches within you, there is language you never knew you had, there is a vision forming every moment of your life, there are interconnected levels of truth and of artistry within you that you can bring forward, the more you affirm all this, the more you want to get to that desk, the more pleasure is there along with the terribly hard and sometimes terribly painful work, work that is yours and no one else’s.

There is no censor standing around, no critic, no big meanie, no disconnected academic, no supreme measure of good and bad. This is a profound and urgent and lovely and terrible and satisfying work and process. You all can and do make, and have made, story.

If you are looking for a place to push your work to the next step, do it online with me and a group of varied and dedicated writers, at Writers.com  —  rededicate yourself to bringing your writing forward, going to the next level in your craft, getting a fuller sense of the long term projects and writing goals you have, and building your writers’ community.

I will again be teaching 2 classes online for writers.com/writers on the net, beginning May 4th:  Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two. These are each 10-week courses for writers of both memoir/creative nonfiction and fiction.

For full descriptions and registration, please go to  http://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html#story

For questions about content or the workings of the class, email me at aachtenberg at gmail.com.

I will also be accepting clients for one-to-one work, long distance and in-person, on full-length projects in progress, short works, and craftwork and coaching to bring your writing forward, whether prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction.  Contact me soon to schedule our work together.

But here’s the 3rd class I will be teaching in May, one of my independent online writing workshops, beginning May 10.

If you’re interested in writing story, or already do, contact me directly at aachtenberg at gmail.com or 651-214-9248 for information on:

Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir


In this workshop, the first of 4 levels, we explore the essential elements of writing story for both fiction and creative nonfiction writers, and how to allow these elements to embody the deeper truths and powerful emotions which move us into writing.

We will work on discovering narrator and point of view; the unfolding of plot; letting subtext work for the story; deepening characterization; context and simultaneity; dialogue; the music of prose; the story’s metaphor; revision; and full development of your story, novel, or memoir.

We work with the mystery of human behavior in story form, to deepen characterization and discover plot rather than be constricted by it.

We will tap into the power of the visions and voices of our narrators and characters, and the mix of truth and fiction that creates a world both imagined and real. We’ll learn how to unveil and deepen the subtext of our stories, understand point of view, and use the power of metaphor. We will explore narrative summary, active scene and dialogue; begin new stories and discover ways to complete old ones.

I provide writing suggestions in every session for explorations that both free and deepen participants’ writing, and we share our work in an atmosphere supportive and challenging, tailored to the needs of each participant.

This is the first of four cycles of classes of 10 weeks each. In each cycle we will return to every element of story at a more advanced level, with more customized work for each participant. Level “One” does not mean basic, although I aim to answer questions that may not have been answered in the past about this work of writing story. It is just the beginning of my approach to all the elements of making story.

For writers at all levels of experience (and their characters, too).

These are, I believe, all fine and magical classes, solid and liberating.

Here’s the complication –

I will not be reachable for a few weeks beginning April 12. Registration for the Writers.com classes, the first 2 mentioned, is through their site, and I will aim to field any questions I can while I am away. But registration will be easily handled by Writers.com

For the Essential Elements of Story class, please contact me by email. I will get back to you most definitely before April 12th if you are in touch before. Otherwise, you may not hear from me for a while – mysterious, yes? Story there…but I will be back most definitely the 4th of May and ready to answer your questions and register you for this class.

I am blessed by the feedback of people who have worked with me to know that something quite grand often happens. And keeps happening.

My novel Blue Earth will be out August 1st. If my discipline were only harsh, it would never be. Harsh enough, but it has come together by going beyond whatever I felt was a limitation of vision.

Let’s work. Let’s write.

More soon,

Anya Achtenberg

Can writing be taught? Quick note.

Dear Writers,

I will soon be announcing classes online beginning early May. Many people say writing can’t be taught. Well, perhaps, but it can be discussed. The terrain of it within the writer can be discovered and opened up. And that toolbox of craft can be filled. Certainly part of this work is to shed the junk that is useless and has been kind of dictated in each writer’s past.  Writing certainly can’t be taught in the sense of a writer repeating what has ever been done before because they then have a formula – indeed many do teach and study this way – but I don’t believe in it. And there are many writers who have found their ways to “teach” – which may not be teaching, but results in the unguaranteeable consequences of writers coming to know and believe in their own beautiful vision and language. I’m for that!:

In that spirit, I will be again teaching classes that seem to have gorgeous results in the expansion and deepening of people’s work, and building online, international communities of writers for their work. I’ll be teaching Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two, with writers.com/writers on the net.

For full descriptions and registration, please go to  http://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html#story


I will also be teaching independent online classes, including Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir, Part One.


For questions about content or the workings of the classes, email me at aachtenberg at gmail.com.

Power to the writing!

Anya

Beyond Formula: Writing Love Scenes that Support the Story with Spirit, Passion, Grit, and Character Truth: Independent class beginning January 12, 2012!

Dear Writers,

I want to talk with you about my independent classes. I continue to teach Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two, with writers.com/writers on the net, as you can see from my last posting.

But I have been teaching Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir, Part One, independently. These classes, which ultimately will have 4 (at least!) parts, come out of a great deal of face-to-face teaching, and working with a number of groups for about 3 years, through in-person classes. Since I left New Mexico where I was teaching these classes regularly, my novella, The Stories of Devil-Girl, was published; my novel Blue Earth was accepted for publication and will be out in May 2012, and my half-completed novel, History Artist, earned me a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and I will complete that novel in 2012. So I can say with certainty that the classes I developed in-person are undergoing a process of development and deepening as they come into the light again as online classes.

My online creative writing classes take a tremendous amount of work and time to write. I will soon be writing Part Two of Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir, and will certainly let people know when I will begin teaching that,  especially the people who have already taken Part One, but I will let all know.

I will be writing other courses in addition to Part Two: Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir, courses based as well on face-to-face workshops I have been blessed to teach.

The first one is coming soon! January 12!

It is a short and very focused workshop of 5 weeks, and will begin in January so as to be completed by Valentine’s Day!

Here’s the description:

Beyond Formula: Writing Love Scenes that Support the Story with Spirit, Passion, Grit, and Character Truth

What we are really looking for and working toward in this class are writings about romantic love that are neither sentimental and formulaic, nor graphic in a way that doesn’t tell the story but serves some goal outside of the work. It is perhaps bold to do this course, which is not a course in writing erotica, nor one that looks to fulfill a formula for romance genre fiction. This is my corner of the world in writing about love, one that works to capture the ache of it, the beauty of it, the disintegration and yearning of it; that which makes it a part of life that is easy to obsess about, because of how utterly beyond belief it is when it comes fully into one’s life.

Love is difficult to write about in a world that so often connects sexuality to violence and exploitation; to the tragic and disturbing. This may come up in this workshop, and is welcome to, as it is so often part and parcel of what people have experienced. That starburst of magic will arrive to be written as well, that love that moves us into other realms of being. So much is expressed in how we love; so many stories told. Yet, often people have told me that they don’t know where or how to start writing such scenes or such stories, as they find their characters diving into love. I very often see the work of writers I deeply respect not achieve full expression of their stories and their characters in these scenes which may be crucial to the overall work. And, ultimately, these scenes must serve, beautifully or fiercely, that overall project. So I am here to invite you (and me!) to take a chance and enter this part of the world of your story that you are already flirting with! No one needs to be taught about love, at least, certainly not by this creative writing teacher, but finding that road to the expression of love in writing, well, that’s what I propose to be of help with, and as ever to share evocative work — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, film — that helps open up the magic, depth and craft of writing. (Who knows what magic may find you as you write in this open field, make dense and real the expression of this ache of love, and sometimes its fulfillment, in your work?)

So, here’s to five weeks of writing about love, from crushes and unrequited love to consummated love, to long lost or long dead love; love that cheats, love that sacrifices, lusty love and restrained love, substitute love and love as substitution; the tragic, the unexpected; selfish love, compassionate love, expansive love, routine love and mystical love. …

Sexual orientation?

Love.


Interested? Please message me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/anya.achtenberg  or write me an email at aachtenberg at gmail.com

Looks like 2012 will be quite something.

Wishing you strength, love, and belief in your writing,

Anya