Upcoming Travels and Appearances!

4 Mar

Today I made further arrangements for my travels coming up promoting both of my books. This Saturday, March 8th, I will be at the Dahlonega Literary Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia. I will also make an appearance on a Regional Authors panel where along with several other authors I will be discussing the writing experience.
Dahlonega will be a new experience for me. I have travelled to many writer’s conferences but always as a teacher and a reader of books. This will be the first time I will appear as a writer, and I look forward to meeting people who will be in attendance and searching for books to read.
I was also making arrangements for my travels to the Dallas/FW Writers Conference to be held at the Hurst Conference Center on May 3rd and 4th in Hurst, Texas. I will be teaching two classes: Setting as Character, and Yearning: the Heart of Quality Prose.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts on both of these topics. Far too many times novice writers overlook setting, or even believe that by offering a few details and visual images they have created a compelling setting. But this class will deal with creating a setting for your stories that is itself a character. Setting that is a character in your story makes it impossible to pick up your characters and set them in any other location.

In the past when teaching creative writing workshops I have always used the Annie Proulx short story “Brokeback Mountain.” The Wyoming setting for that story became a character as important as Innes or his lover. If the story were picked up and moved to San Francisco, New York, or any other urban setting, it is not the same.

For setting to be a character, it must have a significant influence on the plot and or characters—an influence that is unique for the locale. I can think of several other stories that come to mind as examples of setting as character. John Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums” is another example I use in my classes. Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” with the lush green on one side of the tracks and the barren sand on the other provides another example of the importance of setting and how setting plays a crucial role in the piece. In this story, the setting even provides an ticking clock as they wait for the train and the seconds pass away, leading to their separation.
I became aware of the importance of setting while writing my MFA thesis. In trying to create a thesis of stories with a common thread, I attempted to move the setting of my story “Stud Fee” from atop Mount Nebo near Dardanelle, Arkansas, to a point on Crowley’s Ridge in northeast Arkansas. After reading the story again and trying to find how I could properly edit the story, I discovered I couldn’t without making significant changes. The mountain top setting of the Mt. Nebo State park, with the hang gliders and the cabin overlooking the home of the characters of Lani and her husband could not be changed.
Ever since that epiphanic moment, I have done my best to make setting important in every piece I write. I think my greatest success using setting as character was in the story “Healing Waters” from God’s Naked Will.  The setting there is in a valley that flows with hot, mineral spring waters that flow from the same sources as the springs in the Hot Springs National Park. The stream flowing through the property purchased by Elias nurtures the ginseng he grows and provides crystals he sells, and once provided hope for a miracle of healing for his wife.

I have never taught a class dedicated to this topic, but I look forward to sharing what has worked for me with the folks in Dallas.

Yearning is another topic important to quality writing, and I will be teaching a another class in Dallas on Yearning and its importance to quality prose. Yearning is that uniquely human trait that causes us to do things beyond reason. It causes us to do things that others simply shake their heads at. In this class, we will talk about identifying examples of yearning as they exist all around us. Recognizing those examples will help writers create examples of their own.
For instance, I cannot walk through Dillard’s without stopping by the Estee Lauder table and having a saleslady spray a card sample with Private Collection. Just this past week I did this, and the sales lady asked if I were going to buy this for my sweetheart.
“No. It’s what she used to wear. Every once in a while, I just like to remember her.” I thought the lady was going to cry!
“That is so special. I want to be someone’s fragrance someday!”
I guess there was a yearning there for both of us!

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2 Responses to “Upcoming Travels and Appearances!”

  1. all_about_elle March 11, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Will be nice for you to experience the writers festival from a different angle, as writer! I too use to always stop at Chanel perfume counter and want to try on the ‘chance’ fragrance now I have my own at home! I feel so happy when I wear it!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Speaker Feature: CD Mitchell « DFW Writers' Conference - March 19, 2014

    […] on CD’s DFWcon classes, and what he’ll be up to between now and May, check out his Upcoming Travels and Appearances.  You can also reach him by email at cdmitchell [at] […]

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