01 Feb The Geography of You — Exploring the Landscape of Your Life
February – March 2019 | 6-week Writing Series
Explore the Landscape of Your Life
When Mary Oliver died this month and I discovered 95 year old W.S. Merwin was now blind, I returned to their work and was reminded how much place informs story. I remember being riveted by Annie Dillard’s book Pilgrims at Tinker Creek and pulled her book off my shelf and opened the pages again with reverence. Annie spent a year studying Tinker Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her search for the truths inside of nature informed her faith and awareness. The book begins in her bedroom, with her cat jumping through her open window and walking up her nightgown with bloody paw prints. How we see and inhabit the world around us defines who we become.
In my next 6-week writing course, beginning in February and running through March, we will dive deeply into how place is a critical aspect of bringing our stories alive for the reader. Author Paul Shepard has written about how the lack or denial of our connection to the plants and animals in a given place makes us crazy. Sanity happens when people understand that where they are is part of who they are.
What better opportunity to embrace the deepest part of our stories than than exploring the magic of the places where have lived or travelled that shaped and define us and our stories? Places seep through our pores and become part of us, and likewise we become a part of place.
How Place Shapes Story
I have spent so much time in cities I have a little bit of concrete in my soul. And yet, despite my love for them, seeing the moon rise over a small town over an ocean fed me more than over a billboard for a perfume I would never wear. I ended up near a lighthouse, where Shearwaters moan into the crevices of cliffs.
Maria Popova said, “Place helps us focus and focus helps us love, much like attention anchors us to reality.” Focusing the lens to look back at the places we have been changes every day as we evolve. This is why stories of place are best told over and over so you can incorporate into them the person you have become. A lens, like a good photographer, anchors us to beauty and meaning, yet that lens changes over the years.
“As we travel through life,
life will not only take us to unexpected places,
but it will also take us to places that we already know.”
— Anthony T. Hincks
We are also the Landscape
It is my belief that we you are as much a part of the landscape as the rocks you stand upon or the overcrowded cafe where you are sipping our tea. Whether you are passing through or a longtime resident, or have roots embedded in place, or you are hanging onto the string of a kite passing over, it is your job as a writer to offer insight and bring your readers deeper into the place where our stories take place.
The places you have lived, visited and even
driven through in the middle of the night have all taught you
about yourself and inform the stories you write.
Explore the Craft of Place through Literature
In this course, I have selected inspirational excerpts by fiction writers, poets and memoirists – works of art that will help us understand the subtleties and textures of place in story – We will explore scenes out of a Handmade’s Tale, the way Italo Calvino drops us into Italy or the way place shows up in poems by Mary Oliver and W.S. Merwin. Think Joyce in Ireland or Virginia Woolf in London! Authors will inspire us to create our own scenes of place using all our senses, so our readers can travel with us to the unexpected.
We will explore the craft of writing about place and be inspired through city, nature, interiors and exteriors, foreign countries and most important – home. Literature and poetry will guide the way, leading us into deep writing prompts to bring us into scene.
Speak, Kaua‘i – Spoken Word Show for Kaua‘i Writers
on the North Shore of Kaua‘i April 2019 TBA
My Kaua‘i writers taking this course will appear in an April spoken word show on the north shore of Kaua‘i. Kaua‘i’s writing prompts will differ slightly from the online writing groups in preparation of a show that will host stories about how we arrive on Kaua‘i, how Kaua‘i has shaped us and even how leaving Kaua‘i has impacted us. There will be a slight alteration to prompts, though the curriculum will remain mostly the same. Kauai writers will have the value of editing of stories, working with a producer to practice the reading and performance.
“The sense of place is as essential to
good and honest writing as a logical mind; It is by knowing where you stand that
you grow able to judge where you are.”
— Eudora Welty
In this writing course we will explore:
Home - Origin & search for home
Sacred places we revisit
Culture & Language of place
Self Portrait - who we are in place
A Love Affair with Place
Mythology of Place
In this course, writers will:
Learn to use language and culture to bring details of place to life
The changing Lens of Place
Teach a reader to taste a place through the senses
Learn how action and place work together to create magic
Explore Psycho-geography as a way into story - writing into the soul of a city
Writing Teacher: Laura Lentz
Author Laura Lentz has taught creative writing workshops online and on the north shore of Kauai for ten years. Her workbook, STORYquest, helps writers turn their story into a Hero’s Journey through 12-weeks of writing prompts and examples out of best selling books. Laura is also a developmental editor and helps writers expand their body of work through unique methods – offering challenging and thought provoking writing prompts inspired by poetry, mythology and segments from literature. Her exploratory writing workshops include Love, Skin and Eros, The Poetry Room, and STORYquest, Make Your Story a Hero’s Journey. Her 6-week workshops are online and on the north shore of Kauai. Workshop students have the unique opportunity to appear in an annual spoken word shows and in Literati Academy’s online magazine exclusively written by Literati Academy’s writing community in LITerari.us, Laura serves on the faculty of The Kauai Writers Conference and is conducting a Master Class for writers who want to write in sacred places on Kauai and allow Kauai’s beauty to influence their work.
Become Part of a Writing Community
Share Your Writing in a Private Facebook Page
Throughout the course, you will have access to up to thirty writers in a private Facebook page who are also taking this course – writing to the same course material. You will share in a private Facebook group, and receive positive feedback from your peers.
As many of you know,
my courses fill quickly and I hate to turn writers away.
If you sign up soon, this will ensure you a spot.
So looking forward to knowing you better.
ONLINE ZOOM ROOM: SUNDAY MORNING
KAUA‘I NORTH SHORE: *WEDNESDAY* EVENING
ONLINE ZOOM ROOM: THURSDAY AFTERNOON
February 20th — March 27th, 2019
6:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. [on the north shore of Kaua‘i]
*Includes appearing in a spoken word show in April, editing of writing for performance and performance practice sessions.
One Final Thought on Place:
“The sense of place is as essential to good and honest writing
as a logical mind; surely they are somewhere related. It is by knowing where you stand that you
grow able to judge where you are. Place absorbs our earliest notice and attention, it bestows
on us our original awareness; and our critical powers spring up from the study of it and the
growth of experience inside it. It perseveres in bringing us back to earth when we fly too high.
It never really stops informing us, for it is forever astir, alive, changing, reflecting,
like the mind of man itself. On place comprehended can make us
understand other places better.”