Weekend Recap: Iowa City
I’m back from the land of corn fields, tornados, Hawkeyes, and literary giants and I’m happy to report that I had a wonderfully prolific and restorative time.
I took a workshop called Unwriting: A Weekend Intensive with poet, Elizabeth Robinson. The name seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it? What is this “unwriting?” I mean, I’m attending this workshop to devote serious mental energy to my work, stare at a blank Word screen, and wait for this illustrious prose to bleed out of my fingertips, right? Yeah, not exactly. I was hungry to try something new. The same old tricks were starting to produce unsatisfying results.
As a fiction writer, I was a bit nervous to work alongside poets and to disrupt a piece to which I had grown deeply attached. But guess what? Magical things happen when you’re not limiting yourself to your home genre. I’m no poet, but I had a lot of fun playing around with form and rhythm. We tried language games and, bent the chronology of our plots, and at one point, physically cut pieces of our story out and glued them together in different ways (as in with scissors and tape–what?!).
I’ve been working on a short story on and off since the beginning of the year, and had hit a wall, particularly with the ending scene. The workshop exercises and support and feedback from my fellow attendees helped me get to a higher level within the writing and achieve a deeper understanding of my protagonist and her motivations.
I’m reading my story now with fresh eyes and renewed motivation to bring it to conclusion.
The easy three and a half hour drive made it an easy weekend trip from Chicago. I mean, I got to stop at the World’s Largest Truck Stop! I enjoyed the workshop so much that I think it will be a yearly tradition. Looking forward to next summer already!