Early registration for the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Virtual Conference has been extended through February. What better way to get a jump-start on your writing goals for Spring 2021 than to join in on the workshops and events offered by our friends at ASU and the Virginia G. Piper Center? Follow the links below to learn more about the conference, the workshops offered, and various registration discounts for senior citizens, students, veterans, ASU affiliates, and anyone experiencing a financial hardship.
As many of you have already heard, GCC and the Maricopa County Community Colleges District have taken steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19. These steps include the extension of spring break for students by one week, and the implementation of distance/online learning for our classes thereafter. If you are a student at GCC or another college within the district, please check your student email for official communication from the district.
As you might expect, then, we are cancelling/postponing all of our creative writing events for the foreseeable future. That includes:
- The Humorous Poetry Contest & Traveler Celebratory Reading, currently scheduled for March 18th, has been postponed indefinitely.
- Our student Writing Club will not meet. Use the Discord channel if you would like to stay in touch with each other and share work.
- Our Saturday Workshop planned for March 21st has been cancelled. The April workshop is still TBD.
Details about rescheduling postponed events will be provided once they are available. If you have any questions about creative writing events at GCC, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer’s block is an all-too-frequent complaint from aspiring and professional writers of all genres. If it hasn’t hit you yet, it probably will sometime in your writing (or student) career — maybe sooner than later.
Hopefully you’ll recover. Somehow. Some way.
The issue is what to DO about writer’s block when it does inevitably hit you.
None of us are immune to writer’s block. Unfortunately, never having been hit by writer’s Block, and/or having been hit by writer’s block once (or twice) does not make you immune to being hit with a case of writer’s Block in the future.
Let’s talk more about our dirty little secret disease and explore ways to eliminate writer’s block with Gary Lawrence, short story author and GCC CRW instructor. Gary will present ten steps any writer can take to loosen the grip of writer’s block, building upon his Writerly Advice post on the same subject.
Analyze and discuss Gary’s short story “Writer’s Block” in the second half of this participative workshop. Read the story HERE before coming to the workshop, or read the story at or before the workshop (copies provided). Gary will read the story out loud if enough time is available, and will field your questions regarding the story and his writing process for this story from the author’s point of view.
This workshop is free and open to the public. Light refreshments provided (BYOC = bring your own coffee or beverage).
- What: How To Whip Writer’s Block, by Gary Lawrence
- When: Saturday, February 8th from 9:30AM to 12:00PM
- Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
- Why: Writer’s block is like termites around here: You either have them or you’re going to get them sometime soon.
Semesters grow so fast. One day, you’re semester-proofing the electrical outlets in your home, and the next day you have to pause your post-retirement remodel to weep over faded pencil marks on a doorframe meticulously tracking your once-young semester’s height. Where did the time go? Can this really be the final Saturday workshop for Fall 2019? Yes, yes it can. David Martinez describes the workshop’s focus below. As always, workshops are free and open to the public.
Everyone has a story to tell. True stories. Some of them are harrowing, some funny, some insane, but the fact is it doesn’t matter how harrowing, funny, and insane a story may be if it’s not told with style. It doesn’t matter how true. It’s unfortunate, but that doesn’t take away the veracity of the problem. What, then, do we do? We learn the best ways to tell our stories, we find that crucial and often eluding spot between emotion and craft, and we work. How well we tell our stories is as important as the stories themselves. How do we navigate? Join me as I begin to explore this question and search for what it means to tell our personal tales the way we need them to be told, the way they need to be told.
- What: Learning to Bleed on the Page with Style, by David Martinez
- When: Saturday, November 16th from 10AM to 12PM
- Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
- Why: Because the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
With numerous competitions, workshops, and readings, November promises to be a busy month for creative writers at GCC and around the valley. Here’s a quick list of important dates and events:
November 4th: GCC is holding a series of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) writing sessions in the library. The first session is November 4th from 4PM to 5:30PM in L-138. Additional sessions will take place on November 12th, November 18th, and November 25th. Full flier here.
November 15th & November 22nd: ASU is offering scholarships for their Desert Nights & Rising Stars conference. While the conference will be held in spring, scholarship applications are due this month! More details here.
November 16th: GCC is hosting its third and final Saturday Workshop for this semester. David Martinez presents “Learning to Bleed on the Page with Style.” The workshop runs from 10AM to 12PM and is free/open to the public.
November 18th: The Maricopa County Community Colleges District is holding a creative writing competition where winners both get published and paid. The new deadline for this competition is Monday, November 18th. Read all about this Artists of Promise competition here.
November 19th: Mesa Community College is hosting Tiffany Midge for their Literary Reading Series. Midge is a bestselling author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and she will read from her book Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s. The reading begins at 7PM and will be held in the Mesa Community College Art Gallery.
November 20th: GCC is hosting its annual Poetry & Prose Slam. Participants share their original, creative work (poems, very short fiction or prose) to a live audience and a panel of judges. The top three participants earn monetary prizes! This event is free and open to the public.
November 30th: GCC’s Library is holding a Fabulous First Chapter Contest and the deadline lands on the final day of November. This competition is open only to GCC students. Full details can be found here.
October. The moodiest of months. So dark. So brooding. With its long hair and Black Sabbath t-shirt. Its worn jeans and Judd Nelson tattoo that, with age, now looks like Al Pacino or wrinkled fruit or a wrinkled Al Pacino eating fruit. Welcome, October. Welcome the pop-up costume stores filled with glowing skeletons and child-sized Avengers and sexy iterations on mundane professions and forest critters and root vegetables. Embrace the candy, cast out the raisin-givers and the unprepared. Admire the faux spiderwebs spread across porches and balconies and tree-limbs. Visit, with perverse interest, the darker places of the world: graveyards, abandoned buildings, Walmart, and (you had to see this coming) GCC’s Main Campus on the morning of October 19th from 10AM to noon.
And why visit such a dark and dreary place as GCC on a Saturday? Because we’re having a writing workshop, of course. Our second of the year. Details below!
Whether you’re writing a memoir, a short story, or a novel, your story has a setting, a place where the events of the story happen. Your readers rely on you to provide some specific details about the setting so they can begin creating the scenes in their minds. But how much detail should you give? And where? And how might the answers to those questions depend on the kind of story you want to tell? Come to this workshop to discuss these and other important questions about your story’s setting.
Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Water will be providing–begrudgingly. Also, maybe, treats.
- What: Where does your story happen? with Jeff Sanger
- When: Saturday, October 19th from 10AM to 12PM
- Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
- Why: Everyone is entitled to one good
scarewriting workshop in October
Hello. Is it us you’re looking for? Good. Good. Despite rumors to the contrary, the operators of this site are neither dead nor sacked, and they are (in fact) planning
your doom a brand new series of Saturday Workshops and content posts for the 2019-2020 academic year. The first of those Saturday Workshops is just around the proverbial corner–assuming that corner is September 21st. Do you see it? Lurking. Waiting (a little too impatiently for our tastes, mind you). Standing outside your window with an (obviously) Bluetooth-capable Bose speaker over its head, blasting [insert modern-day romantic music here] like that one guy did in that movie long, long ago. He even wore a trench coat. It was pretty sweet. Do you know what else is sweet? Transitions.
In the first Saturday workshop of the new academic year, we will discuss what traits make a complex and compelling villain. Attendees will evaluate villains in film and literature and examine the often complicated relationship between antagonist and protagonist while using writing strategies to create their own caustic characters. Everyone leaves with a bad guy!
Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Sometimes, water bottles and store-bought pastries spontaneously generate right there in the room.
- What: Writing Vivid Villains with Jayme Cook
- When: Saturday, September 21st from 10AM to 12PM
- Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
Give us your heartAttend the workshop. We’ll give you a penWe’ll help you craft a villain.
April is national poetry month, and this Saturday morning workshop will celebrate poetry! Poem in Your Pocket Day is part of the National Poetry month celebration, and we are going to celebrate this day at GCC. Come to this workshop with a poem in your pocket–or in your purse, your backpack, your hand. However you bring it doesn’t really matter, but choose a poem that can fit on one page. It can be a poem that you or someone else has written. Our task will be to analyze the short poem–the pocket-length poem–to see how it works. What techniques do poets use to impact the reader in a short space? We will explore the answers to this question and try a few techniques of our own.
All of our Saturday Workshops are free and open to the public.
- What: Poem in Your Pocket Day, facilitated by Kimberly Williams
- When: Saturday, April 6th from 10AM to 12PM
- Where: GCC Main Campus, LA-141
- Why: Because it’s our final workshop for Spring!
What do your characters want? What do they really want? What pushes them through their narratives? What are the motives for the crazy shenanigans that they get themselves into? What are the motivations behind their motivations?
Our characters may not know the answers to these questions, but we should. In fact, if we want them to be believable and relatable we have to know them and understand them better than they know and understand themselves. Let’s pick apart some fictional personas together so that we can try and understand what makes them tick—and in the process, try to learn what makes our own characters tick.
Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Often, low-cost, yet impressive pastries will be provided.
- What: What Do Your Characters Want? with David Martinez
- When: Saturday, March 2nd from 10AM to 12PM
- Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
- Why: Did you see the line about low-cost pastries?
Which of these statements describes you best?
- I like reading for fun.
- I’m interested in reading and analyzing literary prose or poetry.
- I’m interested in writing literary prose or poetry.
- I’m interested in writing better literary prose or poetry.
- I’ve tried reading literary fiction — but some/most of it goes over my head.
- I’ve tried creative writing — but struggle to put the good ideas in my head down on paper.
- I have to/want to take a literature or creative writing course — but the idea scares me to death.
If one or more of these statements resonate with you, or describes you and your current situation, come to our Saturday CRW Workshop February 9 to learn some writing/reading “secrets” that will improve your reading, your writing, and your quality of life.
MFA and GCC Creative Writing Instructor Gary Lawrence will lead a very participative workshop on “getting more” out of any literature – either more entertainment and appreciation, or more tools to help make you a better reader and creative writer (the two are intimately connected). We’ll use a 10-question reusable template to “break open” a prose short story – and then use this same short story as an example of points made. Time permitting, we’ll use a second short story to “test” your understanding and application of the ideas presented.
Among the things we’ll explore in this two-hour workshop are:
- A creative writer’s mantra: “Read like a writer. Write for the reader.”
- Ten standard questions to ask to get more out of any literary piece (the keys to the “science” behind a better literary analysis and uncovering more writing tools).
- The difference between a literary analysis (understanding better/quicker what a piece “means”) and a creative writing analysis (discovering writing craft methods to write better yourself).
- Reading comprehension level, and why it matters.
The workshop plan includes a mix of presentation, reading, analysis, discussion and (at least a little) writing. You’ll walk away with the reusable 10-question template, a better understanding of how literature “works,” and a few tips to make you a better writer. Literary critics or writers of any genre will benefit from the methods, techniques, and ideas presented and discussed. The workshop is free and open to the public.
- Who: Gary Lawrence, MFA – GCC Instructor
- What: How to “Get More” Out of Any Literature
- When: Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 10:00 am to noon
- Where: Language Arts building, GCC Campus (LA 141)
- Why: Because this workshop will make you a better reader, writer, and person.
Workshop materials and handouts:
Gary Lawrence currently teaches creative writing online for GCC: Introduction to Creative Writing (CRW150), Introduction to Writing Fiction (CRW170), and Intermediate Fiction Writing (CRW270). Until recently he also taught composition courses at GCC and at Cochise College (Sierra Vista). Gary’s also a prize-winning, published short story author (Feast,Rockford Writer’s Guild, Short Story America, Four Chambers, Mirage, Canyon Voices). In 2011 Gary earned an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He issued his first collection of short stories, Baffled, in 2013. He is currently working on a second story collection.