Sunday, January 27, 2013

Your Phone Can Make You a Better Writer (or can it?)

Some thoughts heading into our Monday night workshop....

On 04 Feb 2013, a Monday night, we'll be having another "Beach and Culture" event.

The evening will talk about pocket cameras and smartphones and what they can do for us as bloggers and writers. If you're already registered, I look forward to meeting you that night. If you're still undecided, I might want to caution you --- I think we're up to at least 220 folks, and I assume for practical as well as philosophical reasons, sooner or later they'll have to stop registration. If nothing else, we're going to be past legal capacity for the meeting room, even if we assume an "x factor" of no-shows.

What will we cover during our session that night?

Oh dear chums, perhaps it would be easier to say, what won't we cover. It wouldn't be fair to me or you to try and compress a full evening of discussion and hands-on projects into one small blog post narration, but I can at least preview some of our topics. These will include....





and the revealing detail.

Of course, the real answer to the question of how to write better is pretty much the same as how to have better running times (run more) or how to ollie a railing (skateboard more). If you want to write well, you need to think of it like a craft (learning how to finish wood) and a daily lifestyle decision (set goals, be practical, do it daily). Photographs though can be a big help. I am going to show some "good and bad" writing examples based on my late father, and show how the better writing came from using photography, as well as show what shots I took in Istanbul strictly to use as a kind of rough draft or notepad for a writing project.

Journals tie in with this as well.

As does the concept of simple pleasure. Writing and photography should provide joy and creative expression, and as soon as they no longer do so, it's time to take up a new art form.

Last, one of the most important "take home" messages from Monday, besides the practical advice about how to boss your flash around (instead of it bossing you), and besides the admonish to edit (and to back things up), will be just this:

making good art --- no matter what the format or genre or medium --- is just plain fun.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Monday Night --- Flash Fiction --- Be There or Be Square

Some schedule updates .....

After the December event with Don Bachardy, several people said, ooops, they had really wanted to come, but it had just slipped off the calendar. They had wished there had been more reminders.

Ask and you shall receive, so here we are, with a reminder. We've got a full house on Monday night, but there's always room for one more. Our workshop starts at 6:30 and will focus on writing flash fiction --- what is also called micro fiction, sudden fiction, and short shorts. No previous publication experience or formal training required.

Because we are a large group, a second writer will come with me to help co-present.

Her name is Nicelle Davis, and her next book comes out this spring from Red Hen Press. This shot looks like she was one of last weekend's swing dancers, but actually comes from a Red Hen Press reading here at the Beach House this past summer.

Her most recent book has the mythological title of Circe, though it updates the Odysseus myth extensively. Here's the cover:

She and I plan to cover a lot of material, so let's hope the traffic gods are kind to all of us, so that we can start right on time. Mostly though our main thing we hope to achieve is to celebrate language and just to have fun.

A note about the following Saturday. On January 19th I'll be getting to the Marion Davies house closer to 12 rather than my usual 11, as I am interviewing somebody at "Photo/L.A." on my way down to the coast.

I hope to see you either Monday night or next Saturday. Nicelle's energy is quite a treat, so she's worth the price of admission all by herself.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Through Fire and Flood to Marion's House We Go

The Sunday Party for Marion Davies

We've been having some mild but typical winter weather these past few weeks, which at the Community Beach House often shows up as small bands of rain pushing in from the Bay. (It's fun to see it coming, in fact, especially from the warm vantage of the Guest House's verandah.)

As several people have commented again recently, for me, I make a somewhat Biblical journey some weeks in my traverse from desert to mountain to the coastal strip. What is a brisk rain shower in Santa Monica may be snow and icy roads on my side of the world, as was true this past Sunday, when the Guest House was the center for the Marion Davies celebration.

After checking for the flood warnings, that morning on my trip west I went from rain and snow . . .

. . . past a rather vigorous "burning bush" of a car fire on the 405 . . .

. . . to arrive at what I have previously called Eden, namely the Annenberg Community Beach House complex.

How strange to think that these shots were all taken within two hours of each other.

Once on site, though, I was really pleased to see some of the docents I have come to know, as well as to begin to meet new friends, and I could admire all of the creativity and energy that went into selecting some of the costumes. Both my wife and a dear friend of the family had planned to come with me, the women both wearing flapper dresses, but in both their cases, they had had some very urgent family problems come up, so I arrived stag this time. Perhaps that made it even easier to appreciate all of the different costumes being worn, and to eavesdrop on so many great stories. In no particular order and with no captions, let me just share a small portfolio of the people who had come on Sunday.

The swing dancing was a particular highlight for me --- especially since with my wife not present, I wasn't required to try and learning how to do it. How can you not love that music, though? To be completely authentic, I suppose we should have been learning the Charleston, but that we can save for next year.

For me, floods, fires, and feral beasts permitting, I next will be holding my usual Saturday open office hours from 11 to 2 pm this coming week, on Saturday, January 12th. And please also remember our Flash Fiction workshop, Monday night, January 14th. I look forward to seeing you one or both days.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Birthday (and other January events)

The first weekend in January I won't be able to hold my usual Saturday office hours, even though I have enjoyed meeting so many interesting people so far.

That day, January 05, the Marion Davies House will be closed, both for a wedding and because of the special events on Sunday, when the birthday bash happens.

I will be there, probably shooting still images. If you see me, please say hi!

Meanwhile, the flash fiction workshop on 14 January is getting very full, so if you intend to come, please make a reservation.

For Sunday, here is something from the main page of the site's website, as a reminder:

Happy Birthday Marion!

Happy Birthday Marion

Sunday, January 6
11 am - 2 pm

In honor of her birthday, Santa Monica Conservancy docents turn the spotlight on Marion Davies: actress, philanthropist, famed party hostess and mistress of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst at Davies's 1928 Julia Morgan designed Guest House. From 11am-1:30pm guests may tour the historic Guest House, view photos of Davies and join in this year's dancing with Rusty Frank's Lindy by the Sea Dancers.  A 30-minute swing dance lesson will be offered at 12pm by world-renowned instructor Giovanni Quintero, and a special birthday tribute to Marion will begin at 1:30pm. Guests are invited to come in their favorite Gold Coast era attire or dress as if attending one of Marion's famed costume parties.

Event is free, reservations recommended. Parking is available for $3/hr or $8/day.