Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Chatthoochee Valley Writers Conference Set for September

June 23, 2016

By Elaine Johnson

For ten years, the Chattahoochee Valley Writers has offered an annual writers conference. It’s inspired a lot of success!

T.K. Thorne was about to retire from the police force when she came to the conference years ago wanting to write. She entered the short story contest, sat in on the workshops, and went on from there to writing novels. Rev. Charles Cox retired from the ministry and went to a workshop on writing a memoir. He now is working on his fourth book of historical fiction and one of his articles, honoring his father,  is in the current issue of Georgia Forestry Today.  We think of writers working alone in an attic, but that just doesn’t happen. Every book and movie credits many people. The Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference tries to offer support and guidance to writers at all levels.

Each of the past 10 writers conferences has been great, but this year’s promises a lot. Columbus native Billy Winn will deliver the keynote speech. Ty Manns, founder of CME films here in Columbus, will present a workshop on developing strong characters. Michael Bishop, an award-winning author from Pine Mountain, will discuss fantasy and science fiction. There will be workshops on memoir writing, teaching kids to write, translating intangible feelings into precise and powerful poetry, and reviewing what written success actually looks like. We will offer one-on- one mentoring from a book agent coming from NYC and a workshop on how to market books in the 21st Century.

So enter a poetry or short story contest, network with fellow members of the writing community, and get the guidance you need to take the next steps in your writing journey. The 10 th annual Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference will be held Sept. 23 & 24. Go to www.chattwriters.org for more.

Elaine Johnson is President of Chattahoochee Valley Writers

Advertisements

The Writing Compulsion

June 8, 2014

Why do you write?

Lummus CHapel, Linwood Cemetery, Columbus, GA

Lummus Chapel, Linwood Cemetery, Columbus, GA

After participating in he Chattahoochee Valley Writers, Inc. “Write-on Columbus 2014” at Linwood Cemetery,  I had to reflect on the compulsion that some people, including me,  have to write.  Why did our group spend a Saturday morning walking around the cemetery, writing about something we saw, then reading our work to each other in Lummus Chapel? That, of course, raises the question,  why anyone has a compulsion to write? 

Usually, the first answer you get from pros is the money.   I’ve been paid for a lot of what I have written, especially for radio and television news, but I don’t write just  for the money.  This blog is living proof of that.  And, I have a lot of company. Millions and millions of people write blogs for no pay.   

I think that many of us simply have a desire to communicate, to connect  with other people through our writing. Just think of the millions who do that on Facebook. There is also the impulse to entertain. Of course, many write to try to influence other people, and some do that quite well.

Well, how about you? Why do you like to write?   

 

 

Gay Talese is Not Thrilled with Internet and Tape Recorder Journalism

January 25, 2010

THE HIGHLY ACCLAIMED NON-FICTION WRITER AND HIS EDITOR WIFE NAN TOOK QUESTIONS FROM A COLUMBUS PUBLIC LIBRARY AUDIENCE

Gay Talese, the man who gave rise to “New Journalism” when he wrote his most famous article for Esquire, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” has a low opinion of the quality of magazine writing today. The only exception to that judgement is the New Yorker, whose writers do it the old-fashioned way: face to face contact with the source. Speaking to an audience at the Columbus Public Library today, he said magazines are all celebrity oriented.l They want to put a celebrity picture on the magazine cover. The story inside might be written by a writer who maybe spent ten minutes with the celebrity, tape recording an interview. He said you can’t really get a meaningful interview that way.

He and his wife Nan chatted a little about their marriage and careers – they have been married for 50 years – and then took questions from the audience. The first question was about his opinion about the blogosphere and the Internet.

Gay Talese

“I don’t know anything about the blogosphere. I don’t use it,” he said. He went on to say that he believed in face to face conversations with sources, not contact with sources via the Internet, or using Google or anything like that. He believes in personal contact. He doesn’t even like or use tape recorders. For one thing, he says they inhibit sources. The person you are interviewing figures he or she has to get it right the first time. “They usually don’t.” When the person being interviewed is more relaxed and becomes comfortable with the interviewer, they come back to a question and give a more thoughtful answer.

When I pointed out that his most famous article, the one that gave rise to the term “new journalism,” the one he wrote for Esquire Magazine about Frank Sinatra, was one without a face-to-face interview, he admitted that was the case. Esquire had paid his expenses to go to Los Angeles to interview Sinatra, but when he got there, “His press agent said Sinatra could not do the interview because he had a cold.” Finally, the press agent told Talese that Sinatra was upset because he had heard that Walter Cronkite was working on a program for CBS on Sinatra’s connections with the Mafia.

Gay Talese

Instead of giving up, Talese stayed on in Los Angeles and interviewed people who knew Sinatra, people who worked with him in movies and recording sessions. “Hundreds of people had worked with Sinatra over the years.” He believes that he probably got a truer picture of Sinatra than if he had actually interviewed him. But, he said, “I was in Los Angeles. I interviewed those people. I made contact with them.”

The “New Journalism” he is credited with starting with that article refers to the technique that he used in writing it. He dropped the old newspaper style of reporting and wrote it in the same way that you would write a novel. It was all true – his stint as a reporter for the New York Times had imbued him with the importance of accuracy – but, the style was novelistic. It worked big time. Esquire ran it as its cover story.

Talese was not happy with what the “New Journalism” became. His complaint is the same complaint he has with bloggers, the lack of accuracy. Too many writers now, he said, sacrifice accuracy. After their appearance in the library’s auditorium, I went up to him, introduced myself, shook hands, and told him I enjoyed their performance – that wasn’t smoke because I definitely did – and handed him a blog business card, telling him that I had a blog and was going to write about their talk. He took the card and thanked me.

Nan Talese

Nan Talese, who is now Senior Vice President at Doubleday, was asked about some of the authors she has edited for the New York publishing firms where she has worked. It was an impressive list, people like James Michener, Pat Conroy and Rosalynn Carter.

She went to Plains to work with Rosalyn on her autobiography First Lady from Plains. She got to know Mrs. Carter well because they spent a lot of time together. She would have dinner with Rosalynn and President Carter. After dinner they would all watch the evening news on television. She said that was an interesting experience, citing one evening when President Carter became irritated with a report about an English public figure and shouted “jackass, jackass” at the TV.

Mrs. Talese said sometimes Jimmy would try to give Rosalynn some advice about how a passage should be written, which irritated Rosalynn, who finally told him, “Jimmy, you wrote your book, now let me write mine.” She said that the two could be competitive and that when Rosalyn’s book hit the number one slot on the New York Times list of best sellers Jimmy was perplexed because none of his books had done that. She added that they were a great couple and she enjoyed being with them.

Fans in line to get Talese books autographed, Columbus Public Library, Columbus, Georgia

I have never read any of Gay Talese’s books, but that is about to change. After today’s delightful presentation by the two of them, he went out into the library’s rotunda for a book signing. I bought A Writer’s Life, which he wrote in 2006, and the best seller about the Mafia, Honor Thy Father, which he wrote in 1971. I got him to autograph both books.

He was born and raised in New Jersey, but when he graduated from high school, he couldn’t get into any universities there or in neighboring states. He was accepted by the University of Alabama, where he majored in journalism. In “A Writer’s Life”, he reports that his journalism instructors weren’t thrilled when he strayed from the newspaper “who, what, where, when, why, and how” inverted-pyramid writing style. But, look what straying from that style did for him when he wrote the Sinatra story in 1966. It played a large role in his publishing success, and revolutionized journalistic style.

The Secret to Learning How to Write

September 28, 2009
Novelist Jill McCorkle, key speaker for the Chattahoochee Valley Writers' Conference

Novelist Jill McCorkle, keynote speaker for the Chattahoochee Valley Writers' Conference

One thread ran through this years Chattahoochee Writers’ Conference which was held Saturday at Columbus Public Library.  If you want to learn to write, write.  Well, it was the thread that ran through the three workshops I attended, those conducted by retired Columbus State University professor Dr. David Johnson,  Author Tito Perdue, and Richard Hyatt, retired Ledger-Enquirer reporter and Columnist and author of eleven books. The keynote speaker, novelist Jill McCorkle, added that if you want to write, you need to read, read, read. 

Richard Hyatt, author of 11 books,  newspaper columnist, retired newspaper reporter, manage of website Richard Hyatt's Columbus

Richard Hyatt, author of 11 books, newspaper columnist, retired newspaper reporter, manager of website Richard Hyatt's Columbus

Richard Hyatt said that he ran across a section at the Columbus Public Library that had a lot of books on how to write, but the only way to really learn to do it is to do it.   The more you do it, he said, the better you get at it.

So if you want to be a writer, write.