Saturday Workshop: Bringing Order to Chaos

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion begins in her seminal essay, “The White Album.” The essay explores a time in her life in which stories no longer make any sense. What happens when our stories stop making sense, when the narratives we carry, the experiences we’ve had, no longer feel like they’re enough? We do live in a world of chaos, lives of chaos, and if you’re anything like me that chaos can reflect on the page in a way which can seem confusing and daunting, lacking any structure and coherence.

Is it possible to bring order to the chaos, make it work on the page? Let’s take a look at some authors who have struggled with this very dilemma, have struggled during difficult times to stay afloat and have turned their personal, emotional, and external chaos into beautiful and moving collages that tell a story that moves beyond a single threaded narrative. Let’s explore our own scattered materials and see if we can find where the pieces fit on the page.

As always, our Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Homemade pastries baked at a grocery store completely unaffiliated with GCC will be provided. Probably.

  • What & Who: Bringing Order to Chaos, with David Martinez
  • When: Saturday, March 3rd from 9:30AM to 11:30AM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because who doesn’t want to birth a dancing star?


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Creative Writing Events Imminent!

Presidents’ Day still affecting your internal clock? Surprised it’s Wednesday already? Wondering what to do this week? Wonder no further. There are a host of creative writing events this week, starting tonight:

Wednesday (2/21): Open Mic at GCC Main, in SU104e. From 7PM to around 8:30PM. Featured reader is GCC’s own Mike MacDee.

Thursday through Saturday (2/22-2/24): Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference, hosted by the Virginia G. Piper Center at ASU.

Saturday (2/24): Shared Spaces – An Evening of Dance, Music and Poetry at the US/Mex Border, hosted by Cochise College

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Open Mic: Featuring Mike MacDee

It’s taken several years, over thirty open mic readings, the tears of numerous children, an eye of newt, an uprooted and discolored patch of crabgrass, careful deconstruction of the lyrics of Phil Collins, and your credit card numbers, but we have finally achieved what we sought out to achieve with these open mics: a featured reader with the first name Mike. How could we possibly top this? (Incidentally, if you or someone you know goes by the name “Open” and is interested in a featured reader spot at March’s event, please contact us.)

Even if your name is something other than Mike, we still want you to show up, we still want you to share your creative work with us, and we still want you spend an hour or two commiserating with other creatives at GCC. We hope you’ll read, but if you’d rather listen to the works of others, that’s fine too. We don’t restrict content, so these events aren’t normally suited for young humans. Water and snacks with high sodium content might be provided.

  • What: Open Mic Event, Featuring Mike MacDee
  • When: Wednesday, February 21st from 7:00 to 8:30PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, SU-104E
  • Why: Open mic events are how Phil Collins got started*

*Editor’s note: This probably isn’t true.

About the Featured Reader: Mike MacDee has been trapped in Arizona for as long as he can remember, not unlike General Zod was trapped in the Phantom Zone in Superman II. He even has a cool beard just like Zod. Unlike Zod, he is a pretty nice guy, and also a published author, cartoonist, comic author, and game designer who works with dogs as his day job. You can check out all of his projects at!

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Binational Arts Residency, Desert Nights, & Other Events

As you head into the weekend and begin making plans for your writing and arts endeavors, remember that February brings a wonderful series of arts events that range from Phoenix to Tucson to the US/Mexico border. View the BNAR press release and head to for more information about these central and southern Arizona events, and about other opportunities to participate.

Remember, too, that our friends at ASU’s Piper Center are hosting their annual Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference in two weeks, from February 22nd through February 24th.

And, don’t forget about GCC’s own local workshop tomorrow, February 10th! Jayme Cook will talk about writing endings.



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Traveler Winners for 2017-2018

Please join the creative writing faculty at GCC in congratulating those selected for publication in the 2017-2018 edition of the Traveler. We received roughly 100 submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. From those submissions, the student literary staff, faculty judges, and community reader identified the pieces below, selecting them for publication. The physical publication of Traveler will be released later this Spring. Another announcement will be made when they are available

To all of the writers who submitted pieces to the Traveler, we humbly thank you for allowing us to read your work. The selection process is long and difficult, and many of the choices for publication this year came down to the slightest of margins. We hope that all of you will submit more of your creative work next year. The new submission period will open up during the Fall 2018 semester.

Here are the selections, as chosen by Traveler staff and our judges:


  • First Place: “Merry-Go-Round”, by Sara Steven
  • Second Place: “The Bargain”, by Dawn Gibbs
  • Third Place: “A Trip to Destiny”, by Cynthia Herda
  • Honorable Mention: “Last Call to Ruin Your Life”, by Jordan Johnson

Creative Nonfiction

  • First Place: “The Devil in October”, by Liesl Nichole Meador
  • Second Place: “Memories”, by Liesl Nichole Meador
  • Third Place: “Closed Indefinitely”, by Hannah Walkner
  • Honorable Mention: “A Call to Savor Family”, by Jeanneane Haley


  • First Place: “Hello, You”, by Cara Cisero
  • Second Place: “Breathing Space”, by Bryan Swepston
  • Third Place: “I See You”, by Felicia Cole
  • Honorable Mention: “Texas Hillside”, by Felicia Cole
  • Honorable Mention: “I Am”, by Kayla Jensen

Due to a low number of flash fiction submissions, they were instead considered for the broader category of fiction. We chose to publish four pieces of fiction, instead of three, to represent the increased number of candidates. For drama, readers and judges chose not to publish any selections this year. We hope the 2018-2019 Traveler contest will see more candidates and more submissions.

Thank you, again, to everyone who submitted, and congratulations to those selected!

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Special Event: Poetry on the Patio


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Saturday Workshop: How to Make the Fat Lady Sing

Goodbyes are always hard, but never as much as when you’re stuck trying to write the perfect ending. Whether a short story, poem, news article, or essay, that satisfying ending can seem ever-elusive. You can’t always kill off your main character, right? Right? Come join us in exploring methods of closing your creative pieces with clever, captivating, and gratifying endings that do not involve character suicide and can easily be adapted to suit your unique writing style. Take home a few writing “hacks” that will help you break through the final chapter jitters and end your piece with panache.

As always, our Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Entirely unimpressive refreshments might be provided, but you’ll need to serve yourself.

  • What & Who: How to Make the Fat Lady Sing: Strategies for Creative Endings, with Jayme Cook.
  • When: Saturday, February 10th from 9:30AM to 11:30AM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because if the curtain won’t close on its own, sometimes you have to cut the strings.
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