Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WIWC Workshop: Jennie Shortridge on Pulling Stories from Your Passion

Today, I continue my report about the Whidbey Island Writer's Conference.

Jennie Shortridge is the author of When She Flew and a co-founder of Seattle7Writers. I appreciated her open and challenging demeanor. The workshop was one of the most helpful ones I’ve attended over the course of several writers conferences

She began with a quote:  “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

Jennie noted how we all write to instill something in our reader. As a writer, we may not realize what that ultimately is but the reader will form some type of relationship with it, which could be the opposite of what we envisioned. If the reader finds comfort or clarity, or is even angry with what you’ve written, your job has been accomplished. The message has been received for isn’t a story more than just words?

Jennie led us in some exercises and focused on sharing emotional truth in writing. She told us to further explore the question why we write . Personally, there are several reasons: because I can’t; to encourage or impart wisdom; and because I want readers to gain something positively that will influence their lives.

As writers, we’re curious souls, always striving to learn things and why they are the way they are. It’s a career of investigation and exploration, working to solve the mysteries of our own lives and the lives of others.

Jennie noted how we are the worlds’ “truth tellers” because we’re focused on fact-finding, emotional depth and the importance of defining the human condition.  “Each of us has something to tell the world and maybe more than one thing.”

Another thing Jennie said  that really stuck with me is something I’ve been working through myself the past few years: “The trials of your own life can be a valuable tool in your writing.” You may never know the impact it will have on your reader.

NEXT UP:  Saturday morning keynote with Garth Stein

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