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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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The Stories of Devil-Girl

The Stone of Language

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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]

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

Creative Writing Classes Online Start January 12. Claiming Our Stories: The Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, at Writers.com

Almost 2012…

Dear Writers,

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  —  you know how the beginning of the year is; it is the perfect time to 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 January 12, 2012:  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.

And I will continue teaching my independent online workshops this winter, and will release class descriptions and schedules soon. If you have studied with me before and know you want to continue, contact me at aachtenberg@gmail.com and I will be sure to let you know as soon as possible what courses I am considering teaching — then let me know your preferences.  Same for writers new to working with me, and interested.

But check out my courses at writers.com and find a story you might not have expected, or bring forward the ones you have been wanting to write.

Contact writers.com at http://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html#story

So much to write.

Peace, and story,

Anya Achtenberg

Online Classes start again July 14; Claiming Our Stories: Autobiography & Autobiographical Fiction (Writers.com). August writing workshop/retreat at The Leaven Center. And independent story classes coming around again soon….

Dear Writers,

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.

I will again be teaching 2 classes online for writers.com/writers on the net, beginning July — the 14th or 21st, TBA, 2011:  Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two. These are both 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, email me at aachtenberg at gmail.com.

I am also accepting clients for one to one work, long distance and in person, on large projects in progress, shorter works, and work to bring forward your writing, jump over roadblocks, and develop a deeper understanding of story and language and the tools to work with them.  Contact me soon for scheduling. Two current and recent clients have just found publishers for their books: Christine Stark for her novel, Nickels, and Shanti Bannwart for her memoir, Dancing On One Foot: Growing Up In Nazi Germany.

I have also been teaching independently,  Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir, as discussed in my post of March 11, 2011; and this cycle will soon be over.  I expect to  teach it again soon. It is a powerful spiraling through the elements of story, great to begin with, but a class most definitely also for experienced writers.

You might find a story within you might not have expected. Email me for details, or to get on the list of interested people.

So much to talk about.

So much to write.

Peace,

AHHHHHHHH but wait — what are you doing in mid-August? A phenomenal writing workshop in the countryside of Michigan, on the Grand River. My 8th summer teaching there — and a serious bargain…

August 18-22, 2011

Yearning for Justice: Writing is/as Resistance

At a time when global and local resistance movements are accelerating in all areas of human life, bringing into voice greater numbers of people—often from long oppressed populations—the once hidden longings of people for justice and dignity are at the center of the language we hear every day. Our vision is filled with images of resistance, as well as images of loss unbearable and continuing.

Those aspects of our lives hidden in order to survive, bordered by frustration, overwork, exploitation, abuse and violence, and our powerful energies for resistance and community-building, are coming forward in our actions and in our words. We will work together to create the stories and poems, plays and songs, essays and articles, that convey aspects of our own lives previously silenced or hidden, and honor others in their struggle, loss, and great resistance movements.

Let’s join together in this powerful circle with the planet, to recognize our own enduring power and resistance, nourish it, and express it with our writing. Writers in all genres, at all levels of experience, whether active, beginning,  returning, are welcome. We have work to do.

Time: Thursday, 7:00 p.m.-Monday, 1:00 p.m. (after lunch)
Cost: $350 ($125 deposit + $225 balance due) includes program, lodging and vegetarian meals if you register by July 18; after July 18 the cost is $375. Partial scholarships are available.

ANYA ACHTENBERG lives in Minnesota, teaches creative writing throughout the United States, and is creator of the “Writing for Social Change: Re-Dream a Just World Workshops.” She has received numerous literary prizes in fiction and poetry, including fromCoppola’s Zoetrope: All-Story, New Letters, Southern Poetry Reviewand Another Chicago Magazine. Anya’s works include: The Stone of Language (poetry, West End Press); I Know What the Small Girl Knew (poetry, Holy Cow! Press), and The Stories of Devil-girl(novella, Modern History Press; audiofile available on her website). Her ecently completed novel, Prairie Angel, was excerpted in Harvard Review under the title More Than The Wind. She is at work on History Artist, a novel centering in the experience of a Cambodian woman born of an African American father at the moment the bombing of Cambodia by U.S. forces began. and received a 2008 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant for this work. In 2010 and 2011 Anya organized cultural trips to Cuba for writers, artists, filmmakers, etc. She also offers manuscript consultations for fiction writers, poets, essayists and memoirists; and writes about writing at www.anyaachtenberg.com.

Please come!  Breakthrough City!  Great writing inevitable. Great people, stunningly so.  Great food–gotcha!  The river running through it, honest.

See you soon.

Peace,

Anya Achtenberg

Online Classes Start April 21. Claiming Our Stories: Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, at Writers.com

Dear Writers,

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.

I will again be teaching 2 classes online for writers.com/writers on the net, beginning April 21, 2011:  Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two. These are both 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, email me at aachtenberg at gmail.com.

I will also be accepting clients for one to one work, long distance and in person, on large projects in progress, shorter works, and work to bring forward your writing, jump over roadblocks, and develop a deeper understanding of story and language and the tools to work with them.  Contact me soon for scheduling work to begin after April 21st.

I will also be teaching independently,  Finding the Real Story: The Essential Elements of Story in Fiction and Memoir, as discussed in my post of March 11, 2011; start date for this class to be announced.  Please scroll down for more details, or fly or drive to New Mexico, and ask around about it.

And find a story you might not have expected.

So much to talk about.

So much to write.

Peace,

Anya Achtenberg

Story classes news, and a little story!

Dear Writers,

I am gathering a group for another independent online writing workshop. But here is a little incident that happened on the way to putting this on my Facebook page, something put into gear perhaps by the Great Narrator I can’t see.

I got bold. I got tired. I know what happens in my workshops in many places. I saw the results and see them, still. I wanted to go back to teaching the story classes that developed and kept developing in New Mexico, with wonderful writers who let me have my way and keep going as far as I wanted to with each class.

So, I put the announcement on Facebook, and then, with a bold, un-Prufrock-esque lack of modesty, I put this:

Time for modesty, over — Testimonials and Breakthroughs here:

http://anyaachtenberg.com/?page_id=13

What a woman, I thought! And believe me, some of the things said about me were quite jaw-dropping, or rather about my teaching. Good, I mean, if you had doubts.

And then I saw that somehow it posted on FB about 8, 10 times, imagine! One after another, a big cosmic Facebook joke, saying, “Time for modesty, over” — with the juicy link to get the very fine tributes.

Over and over. And so I tried taking them down, all but a braggingly secure but sanely singular posting — AND IT SEEMED NOTHING WOULD REMOVE THE REPEATED POSTS!!!

I panicked, and I laughed, and I panicked, and I laughed, and the Great Narrator said, for just a few minutes, “Deal with it!”

And I did. And then I relaxed, amid this chorus of cyber-praise, and tried once more for whatever reason. And the repeated self-praising posts dropped away, apparently no longer necessary.

So, I know, these are fine and magical classes, solid and liberating.

If you’re interested in writing story, or already do, contact me 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 story work is done in four cycles of classes of 10-12 weeks each. In each cycle we 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, and through the other story classes I work to spiral back and beyond all that we have already discussed and worked with.

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

Peace, and story,

Anya

Consider this quickly! We are going to Cuba! Writers, Artists, and Filmmakers’ Research Trip to Cuba! April 3-13, 2011

Writers, Artists, and Filmmakers’ Research Trip to Cuba! April 3-13, 2011

Writers, artists, filmmakers, and others will journey to Cuba, April 3-13.

The custom-made program includes extensive meetings with Cuban writers, artists, filmmakers, scholars and others—very special opportunities for research and connection with Cuban professionals in your field. The program is designed depending on the research needs and interests of the registered participants in the trip. We are accompanied by a wonderful Cuban guide and interpreter, so Spanish skills are not necessary.

Our journey will intersect with part of the Festival del Cine Pobre (the Festival of “Poor” Cinema) in Gibara in Holguin province. This festival of “low-budget”/alternative/independent film is called the “Sundance” of Cuba, with intelligent films representing every continent, and concerts and exhibitions in all media complementing the film events. It was started by Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solas, whose film credits include Lucia and Honey for Oshun.

We begin our  trip in Havana, to meet with members of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), and the School of Film located in San Antonio de los Banos (founded by writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez), and other vital people in film and the literary, visual and performing arts.

Then we fly to Santiago de Cuba! Cradle of Cuban music, birthplace of the Revolution, home to immigrants from all over the Caribbean, the beginning of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, and a deep center of Afrocuban culture.

By bus, we arrive in Holguin, for the Festival of Poor Cinema, as detailed above. We will attend various meetings and activities, including the awards and the closing parties.

From there we return to Havana for farewell events, and our flight to Miami.

People who have already sent me CVs and a statement about your interest in going to Cuba, your purpose, your plans for research, what you would like to see and do, who you would like to meet, are on the top of the list.

If you think you would like to participate, please send me your CV or resume or biographical statement as soon as possible.  With that, send on your statement about what you want to do and research in Cuba.

Remember that this trip is a fully licensed delegation for people involved in the arts who will be doing research and/or investigating potential joint projects with Cuban counterparts. The trips fulfill the requirements of currentUS regulations, which are changing, but remain thorny and exclusive. The major change at this point is that students and graduate students are eligible to go if they are receiving credits for the trip (or of course satisfy the other requirements.

Please contact me with your materials, get on the list, and update me with any changes. I will be releasing exact costs and sending applications any day, which will need to be filled out and returned with your deposit.

(See my article on the 2010 Artists and Writers Delegation toCuba, here: View from the Loft:

http://www.loft.org/view/2010/12/06/poetry-is-our-only-real-country/

Information, registration: contact writer Anya Achtenberg,aachtenberg@gmail.com

651.214.9248

www.minnesotacubacommittee.org

Unrevised response to January 8th in Arizona

Dear Writers,

I was writing about a photo (the link to the photo is at the bottom) that inevitably linked for me to current events:

—————————————————————————————————-

Child Riding Water Buffalo in Siam 1928:  Questions about the whole picture
Anya Achtenberg on Monday, January 10, 2011

You are riding the horns of the moon, quite at home, legs dangling, from the broad hill of back of water buffalo. Could you possibly be a child, with those eyes, or nothing but, with those eyes? You are wise, having not yet separated yourself from what you ride, knowing the buffalo carries you not because it is animal and you are human, but because it is bigger. One thin arm falls to rest on the horn, your hand clasping it as with anyone you’d take a walk with.

The fields are fuzzy in the lens; perhaps you don’t know that. But you are in the camera’s sight, and you look at something as if you could love it, and know it. As if you know it better than it knows itself. And so there is a breath of fear in your face, or perhaps I only see it in my confusion, having greeted the morning with a look at the photo of the eyes of the 9 year old girl dead the other day in Arizona, shot with many others, by a young man riding the horn of hatred, his eyes replaced by the hairs of gunsights.

Could he know that the chest of the girl he shot must have looked much like yours, the little girl boy chest of childhood, only whispering of its future?

Could he have seen that your eyes, little Thai child, may have had just the same look as hers, that girl he shot, or would he still be able to sort out Christina’s dark eyes from yours, and would that make him feel solid in the world to know that there are animals and Thai children and white Americans, and that they are all separate, not equal.

Would he have flinched for a moment, sorry to have killed Christina, when he knows there are so many others he might have shot first, that called him for killing first? Animal. Foreign. Asian. Latino. Black. Muslim. Native. Gay. Or was it simply that he loves that look, fear in the eyes of a child riding the moon of her childhood?

His power is not his own. Was it this kind of power that made rise the beginning of fear in the eyes of a child riding an animal who could have reared and bucked her flying headfirst into the fields and their stony perimeters?

Could she see everything from her seat in the past, from the horn of the moon, from her child’s heart?

Could she feel the tingle and tease of the hairs of gunsight on her small square chest above the moon and the lowered head of buffalo?

What grows in the fields around her?

Anya Achtenberg, 1/10/11

This comes from an image in Through The Lens, Pages-196-197 (Photos from years of National Geographic)

http://books.google.com/books?id=fvAakzi13wYC&pg=PA196&lpg=PA196&dq=Photograph+National+Geographic+Ernest+B.+Schoedsack+1928+northern+Siam&source=bl&ots=j-ZpaC9G8v&sig=GSnkHXcd94qyLSSDE-iDv7-nfnM&hl=en&ei=gjsrTcPzH5GI4gbAsbSfCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&sqi=2&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Blessings,

Anya

Online Classes Start January 11. Claiming Our Stories: Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, at Writers.com

Dear Writers,

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.

I will again be teaching 2 classes online for writers.com/writers on the net, beginning Jan. 11, 2011:  Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction, Parts One and Two. These are both 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, email me at aachtenberg at gmail.com.

I am also currently accepting clients for one to one work, long distance and in person, on large projects in progress, shorter works, and work to bring forward your writing, jump over roadblocks, and develop a deeper understanding of story and language and the tools to work with them.

Christmas rain near the Pacific. Lovely.

Soon, to work,

Peace,

Anya Achtenberg

Writers and artists and filmmakers and educators’ journeys to Cuba! And please read the article at The View from the Loft!

Here is the latest nutshell of news about the upcoming trips to Cuba for writers and others folks in the arts:

2011 Writers, Artists, and Filmmakers Research Delegations to Cuba!

February 12-20, and April, 2011.

Groups of writers, visual artists, filmmakers, educators, others, will be going to Cuba, February 12-20, and early April 2011, exact dates to be determined. The February trip will intersect with the International Book Fair in Havana, and includes a visit to nearby Matanzas, with its thriving arts scene, and Varadero Beach.

The April trip will intersect with Cuba’s “Sundance”—the Festival of Poor Cinema; we visit Holguin; Santiago de Cuba; Havana.

We meet extensively with Cuban writers, artists, filmmakers, architects, scholars and others, and individual research can be arranged. Join us!

For more information and for registration: contact me, Anya Achtenberg, at http://anyaachtenberg.com/ or 651.214.9248,

or see www.minnesotacubacommittee.org

Here is an article about the trip we took last January, just out on The View from the Loft:

Poetry is Our Only Real Country:

Writers’ Journeys to Cuba

by Anya Achtenberg

“Es la poesía la única patria real del hombre.”

(“Poetry is the only real country of human beings.”) Derbys Dominguez, poet, arts instructor, in Matanzas, Cuba


I first traveled to Cuba from Boston when I was a                              barely published poet…

oOPS. fOR THE FULL ARTICLE, PLEASE GO TO                                  a vIEW FROM THE lOFT AT:

http://www.loft.org/view/2010/12/06/poetry-is-our-only-real-country/

pLEASE READ, ENJOY THE FOTOS, AND CONTACT ME!

Peace,

Anya Achtenberg

Writing and hard times; choices and blessings

Dear Friends,

This is a quick note, about money and writing and what moves to the center of things.

Times are hard, no? economically as well as in many ways. And, somehow, more and more writers are finding their way to me, as clients working with me individually, as participants in online classes. It surprises me but doesn’t surprise me. I know the choices I am making in terms of spending my resources.

Art and health. Good food. Films from the planet. Books I have to have. Music that reorganizes the cells of my body. Dance. Whatever will make me a better instrument. Make me open to, and learn, from, the spectrum of beings that hum in this world. Help me bring forward voice from the deepest wells. Step over the trifling. Stop marveling in a horrified way at the deadhearts, the greedy, the monumental egos. See everywhere the ones who live their stories in intricate ways with the stories of others. Who are helpers and true lovers of the world. The teachers who barely look up from their work to call themselves that.

So, that so many people make the choice now in hard times to do this work, whether with me or any other helper, or alone or in groups of other wonderful people, is not surprising. It makes sense. Deep sense. When so much is under attack, when so much is difficult, there is a purpose to this work of writing.

Some people think it is silly work, not clanking around changing the face of the planet to match their own rigid ways, or fluffing it up into their own precious paradise.

Some people in process, as we all are.

But here’s some other people, and this tells me I am in the right lane at the store to what helps make an authentic vital beauty of a life.

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project: “The project reaches out to talented and generous women author/teachers here in the United States and engages them, on a volunteer, rotating basis, to teach Afghan women online from Afghanistan…The writing workshops are taught in three secure online classrooms.”

Also see statements from the mentors at:

http://www.awwproject.org/

This is a project we can extend to other regions, yes?

Think about it…

I have to go! Work to do!

A blessing of air and light and sky to you,

Anya