Agenda and application info for the Everyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class this June

Instructions and agenda for the Everyday Mormon Writer retreat/master class June 27-29, 2013. Deadline to apply is June 1.

Note: James Goldberg asked me to post this information. It’s a very interesting agenda and a low-cost proposition in comparison to other, similar retreats. I highly recommend applying if you can make the travel costs and schedule work. –Wm

Mormon Writers’ Retreat/Master Class Agenda and Application Instructions
 

The Everdyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class will take place at a cabin near Heber, Utah, on June 27-29. There is no charge for tuition and there is space for all participants to sleep in the cabin: the only costs will be travel to Salt Lake City or Utah Valley (we’ll carpool from there) and food (either purchasing your own or contributing to a group fund if you’d like to share meals).

The agenda will be as follows:

Thursday

12 pm:

Carpools leave SLC and Utah Valley”“travel to Heber and get settled

2 pm:

Discussion Session: Audience Baselines

What are the current obstacles between various extant audiences and Mormon Lit? We’ll discuss concerns/stereotypes readers have about Mormon Lit. We’ll talk about what else potential Mormon Lit readers are currently reading and what it gives them. And then we’ll talk about what roles Mormon literature might productively play for readers.

4 pm:

Class Session: The Parable of the Irritated Oyster

Most writing rises out of an underlying desire to reach people in some way. But often, writing instruction ignores the initial layers of processing between the itch to communicate and the concept for a work, focusing on the later stages from concept to publication.

In this session, we’ll generate some sample itches and then brainstorm ways a writer could develop a concept from each itch, trying to name costs and benefits of choices along the way. Continue reading “Agenda and application info for the Everyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class this June”

Reverence vs Chutzpah

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From Jews and Words (2012) by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberg:

We know you’ve heard this one before, but please bear with us:

So a Jewish grandmother walks on a beach with her beloved grandson when a big wave suddenly sweeps the boy underwater. “Dear God Almighty,” cries Grandma, “how can you do this to me? I suffered all my life and never lost faith. Shame on you!” Not a minute passed by, and another big wave brings the child back to her arms safe and sound. “Dear God Almighty,” she says, “that’s very kind of you, I’m sure, but where’s his hat?”

An oldie we know, but a true classic. What is this joke really about? Continue reading “Reverence vs Chutzpah”

The Uncorrelated Jesus of James Goldberg

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1. Spoilers

I’m not going to make any notable efforts to prevent “spoilers” in this review. For a few reasons. First, if you haven’t read the book yet, no one’s making you read this review. Besides—I’m pretty sure you already know the gist of this story. So any spoilers have little to do with what and much to do with how.

2. Uncorrelating the Savior

To start with, he’s generally called Jesus in this novel. Compare that to these instructions from the General Handbook of Instructions:

If the Savior is portrayed, it must be done with the utmost reverence and dignity. Only brethren of wholesome personal character should be considered for the part. The person who portrays the Savior should not sing or dance. When speaking, he should use only direct quotations of scriptures spoken by the Savior. Continue reading “The Uncorrelated Jesus of James Goldberg”

James Goldberg’s The Five Books of Jesus

William explains what James Goldberg’s The Five Books of Jesus accomplishes and what he experienced reading it.

At the Sunday morning session of the October general conference Elder Jeffrey R.

Holland related the episode in the New Testament where the risen Christ appears to the Apostles and instructs Peter to feed his sheep . As he did so, Elder Holland modernized the scriptural language and provided context and interpolation that brought a fresh experience and added meaning to that episode of scripture. It was a powerful talk. And it put me in mind of James Goldberg’s The Five Books of Jesus, in which he applies a similar approach to the whole of the Gospels.

But it’s not just the plain yet lyrical and evocative language that James brings to this novelization of Christ’s life that makes it such a success. It’s not just a translation compiled into a coherent narrative (although that aspect in and of itself is of value). Rather, it is an exploration of social movements and relationship dynamics and Jesus guides both of those into a situation where his teachings and ministry forge a small community that can survive his death, believe his resurrection and establish His Church.

A novel like that requires careful balance: too little context and it risks being insubstantional; too much and it’s plodding historical fiction; too much characterization (by examing the feelings and motivations of those in Jesus’s circle) and it bogs down; too little and we’re left wondering why his apostles and family members react the way that they do.

James gets the balance right. Continue reading “James Goldberg’s The Five Books of Jesus”

An open letter to the Whitney Awards Committee

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I’m a big fan of the Whitney Awards. I think they’ve filled a need with great success and have been managed professionally and sensibly. I’m always certain to nominate books I read that qualify and are deserving, and every year intend to actually act on my Academy membership and vote a category, but never quite succeed.

I do have two suggestions that I believe would further improve the Whitneys which I would like to humbly present publicly, in order to invite an open discussion of my suggestions’ merits.

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Suggestion the first: Expand the borders of date eligibility Continue reading “An open letter to the Whitney Awards Committee”

The Mormon Lit Blitz Contest: show us your best 1k words

AMV reminds its readers to get writing for the Mormon Lit Blitz Contest, which we endorse although we aren’t official sponsors.

Wm– Although not an official sponsor, AMV is definitely on board with concept of the Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest, and we are happy to promote it. Ya’ll should enter. I daresay some of us AMVers or friends of AMV will be doing so. It’s only 1,000 words!

CALL FOR CONTEST SUBMISSIONS

Now announcing the first ever Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest organized by James Goldberg and Scott Hales. Send up to three submissions by 15 January, 2012 to mormonlitblitz@gmail.com for a chance to win a Kindle and more.

What we want:
Short work for Mormons to be published and read online. Continue reading “The Mormon Lit Blitz Contest: show us your best 1k words”

Irreantum 13.1

Some quick, subjective reactions to the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Irreantum

Favorite review: “Modern Mormon Family: Angela Hallstrom’s Bound on Earth” by Scott Hales. I find Scott’s writing style quite winning and charming in this review.

Favorite essay*: “Wrestling with God: Invoking Scriptural Mythos and Language in LDS Literary Works” by James Goldberg. His other essay is funnier and more interesting, but this is solid, critical (and critical) work. I haven’t read something that feels like it really moves the field in awhile. This does — both descriptively and prescriptively.

Favorite poem: “Disco Hero” by Liz Chapman. Uniquely Mormon, very funny, and totally approachable. Just what I need from poetry that appears in Mormon journals.

Favorite short story: “Flight” by Courtney Miller Santo. I love that it’s an old couple and how their oldness and their coupleness plays out and how real, yet unique, yet fictional it seems. I enjoyed the background presence of the mommy blogger daughter (although it’s maybe a little too hammered home in the end). The imagery with the hummingbirds somehow feels like it’s adding to the whole mix without screaming allegory. Very nicely done.

*Note that I’m bundling the critical essays and creative nonfiction, which I probably shouldn’t, but I see them as all on the same continuum and so react to them as such.