When I chose Dorothy Allison for a workshop leader it was because years ago, when I read Bastard Out of Carolina I was wowed by Allison's ability to write about horrible people with love and compassion. It was an early ah ha moment, well before I started writing again myself. I'd also heard from a friend who'd been in workshop with her before that Allison was funny, generous and smart, smart, smart. I discovered she's all that and more.
Her presence in a room is like a great mother bear. She's direct, kind--always kind, encouraging, and validating.
Some bits of wisdom from her workshop:
*Writers are all neurotic.
*Tell the story you're most afraid to tell.
*invent a new language with sound.
*white space is important in a manuscript.
*character should take inventory when they walk into a room.
*Take a cliche and change it for the reader.
*Characters think in dialogue.
*writing bad is the key to writing good. Take risks. Break rules.
*Take your structure apart scene by scene to get a sense of it.
*SOBs are necessary in fiction.
*Nothing trumps fear for main character in creating narrative tension.
*Writing is being naked in public.
Dorothy Allison read from an early draft of a story she's working on. One of three versions she's written. It was the most powerful reading I've ever heard--more performance art than a reading--and the experience of it was amazing. She's amazing.
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.