Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Writing Workshops LA: My First Class

Tonight was the first of eight classes in my creative nonfiction workshop. Through great occurrences of a tweet and a click I discovered "Writing Workshops LA:" a private writing school one of my regulars at the cafe founded. Very cool. There were spaces left in the creative nonfiction class and I thought to myself: Andrea, get your shit together.

When I was a student, I did fairly well as a student. Despite my procrastinating ways, I did my work-and well-for the most part. So then I graduated. And I tried to rush back into school again, it was my comfort zone. But school said no-go live (or at least that's how I optimistically interpreted my rejections). So I lived, and moved to a new city and new job, new skills, and new movies, new restaurants. And then I had an idea-a book idea. I threw myself into my new literary relationship. Head. Over. Heels. And then we started fighting and then we made up, but still I was getting frustrated. And then there was the tweet. Who knew what a tweet could do?

The first class was wonderful. All six ladies (who all have names with either an A or an E-I'm fondly calling this workshop the A & E channel) are wonderful. I'm so excited to read more of their work as our first assignment gave us a preview to each one of our voices. The prompt was: why I write. And so-here's my answer. The next several blogs will follow my journey on the first kind of adult thing I consider with my writing career. Taking a class, making connections, and finally meeting people who are on the same lovely, agonizing struggle as I. Writing-blah-what a bitch.

"Why I Write"

Why I write-for the past several years I’ve had a different answer on each new birthday. I knew that what I wanted to hone, to craft, to nurture, was my writing. There was vast room for improvement and for learning but when I graduated high school, that’s all I knew. 6 years, one degree, and 8 rejections from creative writing programs across the nation later, I have a solid answer: people.

I write because I am genuinely interested in them: their stories. It’s absurd and, yet so liberating, my ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger and open up. Listening has become a great component to my writing, without it, I will fail. The thing about “people” is that they’re like the roses we don’t stop to smell. Yeah-I’m using that cliché. But honestly, we are so quick to get to point A to point B and even more so, point C-that we forget to sit down and chat with one another.

What gets me going as a writer, what makes my mind buzz, is sitting down with one person and cracking them open. It’s like a fantastic piñata. Now I’m not saying that every Henry and Nancy has an epic story, but as a writer I must pick and choose which ones I see worthwhile. A storyteller picks the stories that cater to his abilities whether that may be in humor, in suspense, or in drama, but the important factor lies in the storyteller’s skill to know which story fits him and vice versa.

I write because I am on the pursuit for these people-these stories-that will fit me as much as I will fit them. A writer’s subject must be willing to be as open and as a part of the storytelling as the writer and, in fiction, that can be quickly remedied: you dictate and create the subjects; as a part of your imagination, they have no choice! On the other hand, real-life subjects with pulses and free will can tell you no. I risk a broken ego every time I ask someone to let me listen, to let me in. Though however dangerous this path may be for my writer’s ego, I welcome it. I’ve come to a point in my life where I do not want my writing to be about me necessarily and what I choose to create in this novel or this story, but rather about novels and stories already existing-walking and breathing pass me.

I’m a conversationalist: that’s why I write.

Until next Tuesday....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Matthew Santos- Break Free (Frequency TV)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Poetic Listening

I love voices.

Big voices.

If I could label my taste in music it would be such-big, fill-up-the-room-and-your-heart voices.

I recently went to go see a small show with Matthew Santos. He's best known for his great contribution to Lupe Fiasco's hit single "Superstar." You know that amazing hook/chorus? That's Matthew Santos. I loved that chorus and I adamantly went searching for this "Santos" fellow.

That was a few years back and since then I've written a short story based off his song "Love Sick Fool" (the story is even titled after the song), I've ponder many, many times to him, I've cried, and I've oooed and ahhhedd him to any one that will listen to me.

I finally got to see him live at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. I sat in the front-only inches from him and his guitar and yes-I did cry for the first time at a live show. In a concert, I've probably would have gotten away with my tears. Everyone so jammed together and looking only straight ahead, no one would have cared less to check if the strange, emotional chick next to them was crying for real or not. However, at the more intimate and quiet ambiance of The Hotel Cafe, most of the audience seated at tables, yeah-I'm pretty certain my lady neighbor to my right saw the tears I tried to hold back.

Why did I cry? Simple-I really love big voices. And Matthew's was enormous. It's so breathtakingly beautiful that the whole room was hushed for a full hour. His first intro song was all harmonies (not a word was sung) and people didn't even clap. Yes, we were that quickly mesmerized. His lyrics are sweet and contemplative, but his voice stole the show. As it should be. I teared up because who gets to see that everyday? I've asked Alex numerous times to sing for me but he continues to be a butthead about it so no-I can't witness firsthand a truly amazing voice.

After his show, I naturally was processing the hour that I spent and came to terms with the running theme in my music collection: the voices. Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Adele, Matthew Santos, Gavin Degraw (his stripped version of his album "Chariot" showcases the "voice" without all the rock fuss), Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Lauryn Hill, Freddie Mercury, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, and more!

Adele is currently on tour for her newest album "21." She's a favorite now among the American music scene and is booked in all the big venues in San Diego and LA. I'm passing though because I'm greedy now. Snobby too. I want to watch Adele in a place like The Hotel Cafe. I want to witness her "unplugged" session where there's only 20 of us. Hell, even my wedding would have to many people for my liking. Maybe, someday, the stars will align and I'll hear word of a super secret show Adele is performing. Lord-if that ever occurred-there would be tears. Tears, tears, tears. As a blubbery mess Adele might think me crazy or "that fan" but I'm okay with that. I can't help myself when my heart is full and my soul is soothed.

I am a poetic listener.

Crying is a natural side effect.

Adele "Melt My Heart to Stone"