We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of prose writing: the translation of the emotional stakes of the story onto its physical landscape; the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of metaphor soup and pull out what we need, what we can then shape into story. We will work toward demystifying some of the essential components of storytelling (image, metaphor, structure, dialogue, character, scene, among others) and turning them into comprehensible tools that are at our disposal. At the same time we will honor (and hope for) the inexplicable flights of creativity (and madness?) that take a good story and make it great. Open to short story writers, personal essayists, memoirists and novelists. One of the things we will talk about is ever expanding grey area that exists between fiction and nonfiction: the fictionalized memoir, the autobiographical novel etc. Please bring 10 copies of a manuscript of up to 15 pages of prose to distribute. Please also read Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins.
Pam Houston's most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted, published in 2012, by W.W. Norton. She is also the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, the novel, Sight Hound, and a collection of essays called A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton. Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, and The Evil Companions Literary Award and multiple teaching awards. She is the Director of Creative Writing at U.C. Davis and teaches in The Pacific University low residency MFA program, and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world. She lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.