Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Cliffs Notes of a Baggott Workshop.

Here are some of the things I've said over the years that I've built my craft lectures around. This is the shrunken-wool-sweater version of a workshop with me.

"Writing can be seen as the engagement in a daily practice of empathy."

"The success or failure of anything I write depends, in a given moment, on my willingness to fall in love."

"Don't be faked out by the false suspense of what might happen. The novel relies more deeply on how and why."

"Make regular practice of digging through concrete memories. The things you find there have already been edited by the mind. They remain in your head because they have some psychological resonance. You don't have to fully understand the psychology -- perhaps better not to. Rely on that resonance to transfer to the reader."

"Be not vaguely bitter. Yelling at the dog is a waste of rocket fuel. Hone your bitterness. Use it to charge your work." This goes with a lecture in which I also suggest writers "polish their hate like chrome" and "tender care for and feed and groom the chip on your shoulder. The chip can be a great gift, if properly trained."

"Learning to truly take in the things around, working the senses, means that you can learn to write while not writing. Writing happens first by experiencing the world and then translating that experience for yourself and then, in revision, to translate it for the reader."