Creative Writing Workshop in Oaxaca: Soft and Hard Sounds of Language

“Writers pay attention to the emotional quality of the sounds,” says our workshop leader Robin Greene, MFA. Think of the word “mother,” she continues and the comforting “mmmmm” sound.  The quality of the sounds are the tools to create an emotion.  The hard sounds of “t” and “k” convey the harshness of an emotion as we use language for expression.  Think of how “Don’t do that” sounds with all those “t’s.”  In writing, we also favor repetitions, humor, color, opposites.  She pulls out the example: “ecstatic trees the color of Easter” and “a time when women kept secrets and wore pearls.”

When an experience or an event is difficult to talk about and the writer goes back and forth between the concrete and the abstract, the image can do the work, Robin advises.  She continues that memory is interesting when you reference it with the present.  The present can provide incredible authority.  “I am sitting in the courtyard where it all began and ended” could be a jumping off phrase for going into the past and bringing it to the present to draw the reader in.

Writing needs to be physically grounded.  When writers get stuck, it may be because there is not enough of the personal in the writing.  We must challenge ourselves to push the emotional connection with the material on the page. Honesty, rawness, and expressed fear can give a piece substance, voice and complexity.

We found that the writing and yoga and retreat gave us the tools to break out from the constraints to breakthrough.  Our next workshop/retreat is set for December 28, 2011 to January 2, 2012.  Spend New Years with us in Oaxaca to celebrate and recommit to your own creativity.

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