The Writers Studio

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COMING IN SEPTEMBER: Writing About Childhood

Published July 13, 2022 by Philip Ivory

This September, I’ll be teaching another session of my special 6-week class, Writing About Childhood. Once again, the class is offered through The Writers Studio and will be conducted online, this time taking place on Saturday and using a video interface.

So what’s the class about?

Childhood from the perspective of an adult writer can seem like “another country,” a strange land where our powers, responsibilities and perceptions were vastly different. And yet it is the place we all come from. And while the lens through which we viewed the world as children may have seemed innocent and magical, our sensibilities were always vulnerable to the hard truths of encroaching adulthood.

In this class, we will examine techniques and voices crafted by celebrated writers of poetry and prose such as Sandra Cisneros, Seamus Heaney, and Ray Bradbury. How did they use imagination and memory to regain a foothold in childhood’s not-so-distant realm, conjuring its wonder, joy, and pain? Whether working in poetry, prose, or creative nonfiction, can we apply similar voices and techniques to our own unique material?

Let’s bring the world and experience of childhood to vibrant life again through our creative work.

This class is open to all writers of poetry and prose, including new and returning Writers Studio students. Each week, students write a two-page exercise based on the week’s model. Then, during a two-hour, live Google Meet session, students present their work and receive feedback from their fellow classmates and from the teacher. The last fifteen minutes of the class are spent reading and discussing the following week’s model, using the Writers Studio method of analyzing persona and narrative technique. The Google Meet sessions are not recorded.

CLICK HERE to register and for further information.

FINAL ROUND: NYC Midnight Short Story Contest

Published June 24, 2022 by Philip Ivory

On and off over the past few years I’ve participated in writing contests held by NYC Midnight. What’s unique about these competitions is that writers receive parameters — genre, locations, objects, and etc. — and tight deadlines within which to incorporate these parameters into a successful piece of writing.

Each contest has multiple rounds that writers proceed through if advanced by the judges. I’ve never made it to the final round … before now.

This week I learned that my third round entry in the NYC 2022 Short Story contest has earned me advancement to the final round.

Sure, I’m excited, but the looming reality is that the final round begins (gulp!) at midnight NY time this evening. That’s 9 pm for me here in Tucson, less than four hours away. That’s when I’ll receive a new prompt for a 1250 word story that needs to be completed and uploaded in 24 hours.

Whatever happens, I’m grateful for NYC Midnight for its sometimes maddening but always stimulating prompts, which bedevil a poor writer by informing him that, for instance, he has 48 hours to write a short story in the romance genre featuring localism and an evening student. (That was round three. Romance not being my favorite, I tore my hair out for a while but finally set down to write a passable piece, which got me to tonight’s final round.)

In fact, while I haven’t yet come close to winning the contest, I’ve greatly benefited from the prompts, which helped me arrive at some published stories I would never otherwise have written. Here are two of them:

The Swamp Rat

Miss Brompton Falls 1938

Wish me luck tonight! I’m grateful to friends in The Writers Studio, especially including Rene Bibby and Betsy Mahaffey (Happy Birthday, Betsy!), who provided feedback and encouragement to help me survive earlier rounds.



Learning Writing Lessons from Sgt. Pepper

Published June 1, 2022 by Philip Ivory

This morning, I woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head … and remembered that on this date in 1967, the Beatles released the album that would dominate the charts and airwaves for much of the rest of the year, becoming the soundtrack of the “Summer of Love.” That album carried the peculiar title of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A few years back, I wrote an essay pointing out insights about good writing that can be gleaned from this landmark of popular music. The folks at Bookends Review were kind enough to publish it. Take a look!

Sgt. Pepper at 50: What Can Writers Learn?

Thanks for reading.

THE SWAMP RAT: New fiction published

Published November 19, 2021 by Philip Ivory

“Man towers above the rest of creation so long as he realizes his own nature, and when he forgets it, he sinks lower than the beasts.”
— Boethius

It’s been a while since I had any short fiction published, since I’ve been devoting myself to finishing a novel. But here’s a story I wrote about three years ago which has finally found a home. It’s called The Swamp Rat.

The story arose from a flash fiction contest I participated in through NYC Midnight in 2018. While the story didn’t win, I thought it was worth developing, and expanded it from 1000 words to a fully-fleshed 7000 word story.

It’s set in Paris during the 1930s, and is a bit of homage to the style of early spy/mystery stories by such writers as W. Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene.

I’m excited that the story has found a home at The Chamber, an online journal of dark fiction. My thanks to the publishers.

READ IT HERE. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the whole issue.

My thanks also to friends who helped me in the development of this story, including Reneé Bibby, Alice Hatcher, Frances Lynch and my fellow students in the Tucson Writers Studio Master Class, who gave me excellent feedback.

I hope you’ll let me know what you thought of the story by leaving a comment, either here or on The Chamber site. Thanks!

New Online Course: Writing About Childhood

Published June 13, 2021 by Philip Ivory
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Through The Writers Studio, I’ll be teaching a new special 6-week class starting next month, Writing About Childhood.

Childhood from the perspective of an adult writer can seem like “another country,” a strange land where our powers, responsibilities and perceptions were vastly different. And yet it is the place we all come from. And while the lens through which we viewed the world as children may have seemed innocent and magical, our sensibilities were always vulnerable to the hard truths of encroaching adulthood. In this class, we will examine techniques and voices crafted by celebrated writers of poetry and prose such as Sandra Cisneros, Seamus Heaney, and Ray Bradbury. How did they use imagination and memory to regain a foothold in childhood’s not-so-distant realm, conjuring its wonder, joy, and pain? Whether working in poetry, prose, or creative nonfiction, can we apply similar voices and techniques to our own unique material? Let’s bring the world and experience of childhood to vibrant life again through our creative work.

This class is open to all writers of poetry and prose, including those who are new to The Writers Studio as well as those who have already taken classes. Students will respond to weekly exercises, posting their assignments to an online class space where feedback will also be posted by other students and the teacher. Our class will then meet for a one-hour online video discussion focusing on the technique described in the exercise using the Google Meet. No special software needed, and no transcript will be available for those who miss the discussion.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

UNREAL event at Antigone: Thanks for Support

Published October 21, 2019 by Philip Ivory

Thanks to our students and friends who came out to support our special event last Friday, Oct. 18!

Lela Scott MacNeil

Our teachers at The Writers Studio Tucson had a chance to read from their creative work at a public reading held at Antigone Books on Fourth Avenue here in Tucson.

Richard Leis

It was called UNREAL, and gave our teachers, Lela Scott MacNeil, Richard Leis, Donna Aversa, Reneé Bibby and myself a chance to read selections of poetry and prose that focus on the unusual, the dark, and the unreal.

 

Donna Aversa

This was the program:

Lela Scott MacNeil / reading novel excerpt, Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Phil Ivory / reading flash fiction, Probably Last Meeting of Bluebell Ridge II Homeowners Association
Richard Leis / reading poems, [Aliens are here], Phantom Taste of Apricot on My Tongue, Cities Through Telescopes, City as Fairy Tale, and Burning Baby
Donna Aversa / reading flash fiction, A Little Bit Of Sausage
Reneé Bibby / reading short story excerpt, That Boy

Reneé Bibby

We had a great turnout who came to hear our work and browse at Tucson’s most celebrated independent bookstore.

Phil Ivory

Many thanks to Antigone Books for being such a gracious and enthusiastic host, and making us and our guests feel at home. We’re looking forward to more events like it.

 

 

UNREAL: Writers Studio Teachers Read Their Work

Published October 4, 2019 by Philip Ivory

Join us on Oct. 18 for a public reading event, cohosted by Antigone Books and The Writers Studio. Teachers from the Tucson branch of The Writers Studio — Lela Scott MacNeil, Richard Leis, Donna Aversa, Reneé Bibby and myself — will read selections of poetry and prose that focus on the unusual, the dark, and the unreal.

WHERE: Antigone Books, 411 N 4th Ave, Tucson, Arizona 85705

WHEN: October 18, 2019 at 6:00 PM

No RSVP or admission fee is required.

At The Writers Studio Tucson, we pride ourselves on being active participants in Tucson’s thriving literary community. Please join us, and patronize Antigone Books, one of the finest independent bookstores in the country. Visit their web site and sign up for their newsletter.

The Writers Studio, founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz in 1987, offers writing workshops designed to help students discover and nurture their own voices. The Writers Studio Tucson offers four levels of classes to help students achieve their writing goals.

For more information on The Writers Studio, click here

When Reality Doesn’t Cut It, UNREAL Is Our Best Friend!

See you on Oct. 18!