Connecting You to the World of Writing

How to Spin the Straw of Life into Literary Gold with Signe Hammer

MON, WED, FRI, JAN. 24, 26 & 28 | 1:00–3:30 PM CST | $250 USD
Great writers are like alchemists. With nothing but keen observation, imagination and words, they can turn any situation into literary gold. Frank McCourt conveys the misery of sodden, poverty-stricken childhood winters with such engaging rhythms that you want to have been there yourself. Alice Munro translates waiting for a train into a lively, almost musical passage. PEN/Hemingway prizewinner Teju Cole transforms a dismal Arizona immigration courtroom scene into a haunting meditation on place, belonging and the routine violence of the deportation process. Nora Ephron expands the focus on a hot pastrami sandwich to include a vivid comparison of the cultures of Los Angeles and New York City.

If you’ve ever wrestled with difficult or apparently dull material ⁠— a scene that’s not scenic, a banal or awkward moment, an unpleasant incident — you know how hard it is to make it come alive. More than good description is required. The writer needs to discard cultural blinders and conventional preconceptions and see with fresh eyes. It’s through the writer’s eyes that the reader sees the world anew.

In this workshop, participants will learn to find the action in inaction, the singular in the ordinary, the particular in the general, the familiar in the strange and the humor or thread of common interest in the repellent. Each session, we’ll look at the different ways that great writers have used diction, point of view, tone, figurative language, juxtaposition, contrast and other devices to make apparently unpromising situations come alive. Then we’ll try it ourselves in short writing exercises. Volunteers will read their pieces aloud for guided discussion. Over the three sessions, participants will develop the tools they need to write more confidently and effectively. Bring paper and pen or writing device and an open mind.
SIGNE HAMMER’s memoir, By Her Own Hand: Memoirs of a Suicide’s Daughter, was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. She has published three other nonfiction books, along with short stories, poetry, personal essays and many national-magazine feature articles. She has been an editor at both a major book publisher and a national magazine, and now helps writers develop, complete and publish their manuscripts. She has taught writing workshops for 40 years: as an award-winning Adjunct Associate Professor of Creative Writing at New York University, at the San Miguel Writers Conference and privately in San Miguel and via Zoom.
Master Class
How to Spin the Straw of Life into Literary Gold with Signe Hammer | ONLINE | JAN. 24, 26 & 28 | 1:00–3:30 PM CST | $250 USD
Distinguished Speaker Series
“What Makes Comedy Funny?” David Misch in Conversation with Jeff Reno | ONLINE | SUN., JAN. 16 | 6:007:30 PM CST | $10$50 USD
Online Workshops Series
Creative Nonfiction Writing: The Art of Experience with Jay Kirk | MON., JAN. 17 | 6:00–9:20 PM CST | $80 USD | Reply to be added to the waiting list
Writing Memoir When Memory Fails with Jessica Hendry Nelson | TUE., JAN. 18 | 6:00–9:20 PM CST | $80 USD
Raising the Spiced Cup: Poetry on GodFire! Write with Spirit! with Judyth Hill | WED., JAN. 19 | 6:00–9:20 PM CST | $80 USD | Reply to be added to the waiting list
Free Events
Silent Write with Nathan Feuerberg | WED., JAN. 12 | 6:00–7:00 PM CST | FREE
Inside the Tales: Poetry Readings Hosted by Judyth Hill | ONLINE | SUN., JAN. 23 | 6:00–7:30 PM CST | FREE
Books by Our Members
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