Student Liz Marquardt in Response to Prompt: Everyone Needs...

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Everyone needs someone in their life who keeps them humble. For my husband, Bill, that person is me. I am not sure he knows how important a job that is, or how good I am at doing that for him, but apparently he appreciates it since he has stayed with me for the past 22 years.

To say Bill is fastidious or meticulous when it comes to his clothes is an understatement, even though those words are rather extreme. I think he is nuts about his clothes, but I do recognize my greatest fashion accomplishment is getting out the door without my shirt on backwards or inside out. One of the most important women is his life is the lady who owns the dry cleaner that presses his clothes, so his life priorities are clear.

Bill is always the best dressed guy at Home Depot. Last time we went there to get a new garden hose because he didn’t like that ours had gotten dirty, he wore Cole Haan loafers, a crisply pressed button down striped Brooks Brothers short sleeve shirt, and a pair of exquisitely creased and pressed Tommy Bahama shorts. He looked like somebody who walked in there because he needed something for his yacht and he mistakenly thought it was a marine store.

Last Friday, Bill left for work wearing black Hugo Boss jeans and a white long sleeve shirt that was so perfectly starched and pressed, it actually looked shiny. I found the outfit hilarious, but didn’t say anything as he said goodbye and walked out the front door. I waited until he called me later in the day when I said, “Did you go out for lunch today?” 

“No, why?” he said.  

“Oh nothing,” I said and laughed.  

He said, “That didn’t sound like nothing.”  

“Well,” I said, “I was afraid that if you were in a restaurant in that outfit, somebody might ask you for a menu.” 

“Duly noted, next time I will wear a shirt with color.” He said.  

It is rare that I score any humble points when it comes to Bill and his clothes, so I need to seize those rare opportunities when they arise. Particularly since I know that it will only take me a few days until the next time I have my dress tucked in my underwear, and Bill will smugly point that out.

Show Notes for Episode 39: Get Out of Your Way and Write

 

On today’s episode we’re talking about getting out of our own way when writing a story. The writing process starts with getting the truth on paper. We write about situations or problems we’re dealing with or have dealt with, things we’re still trying to understand or resolve. The goal is getting to the reason we’re writing the story and what the story is really about.

Andrea is a huge believer in writing and rewriting. That’s her process. A first draft is usually shit. Then the second draft all the way to the 222 draft, is usually still shit, but those drafts are critical for telling the story well. But with all this writing and rewriting, we can get in our own way.

In this episode, you'll hear student Misha Mehrel’s story Bad Breath. Misha brought this piece to class a couple of weeks ago and it needed very little editing. You will also hear an interview with Misha about his writing process. Misha was wary of writing about his father’s cancer diagnosis. What he did instead was start by writing about physical problems that had been bothering him. He wrote graphically and intimately about his breath and bowel movements, which served to free him up to write about his dad.

Two prompt ideas to help you, the listener, loosen up. Body Odor or Menstrual Blood. See where that takes you.

Listen to other stories by Misha in Episode 36 about Hurricane Irma (https://soundcloud.com/writing-class-radio/episode-36-hurricanes-and-stories-define-us-since-the-beginning-of-time) and another in Episode 16: Comfort Zone where he told a story about his hairy ass.

 

(https://soundcloud.com/writing-class-radio/episode-16-step-out-of-your-comfort-zone-where-the-magic-happens).

 Writing Class Radio is a podcast that brings you true, personal stories written in an actual memoir writing class and a little instruction on how to write your own stories.

Writing Class Radio is co-hosted by student Allison Langer (www.allisonlanger.com)  and teacher Andrea Askowitz (www.andreaaskowitz.com). This podcast is equal parts heart and art. By heart, we mean getting to the truth and by art, we mean the craft of writing.

Writing Class Radio is produced by Virginia Lora, Andrea Askowitz and Allison Langer. We are sponsored by and recorded at the University of Miami School of Communication.

Our fall writing contest is officially on! The prompt is Secret Pleasure. Deadline is Feb. 14, 2017. Details at writingclassradio.com.

Theme music by Ari Herstand. Additional music by Kevin Myles WIlson

Taryn Southern and Podington Bear. You can find all our music on our website.

Please support our 20+2 campaign. Give $20 and get two people to subscribe. Our goal is 2,000 new listeners and $20,000 by the end of the year. Please help us reach our goal. Please go to writingclassradio.com and hit the 20+2 button.

There’s more writing class on our website (www.writingclassradio.com), twitter (@wrtgclassradio) and Facebook.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

 

Episode 37: Ready to Write that Memoir or Novel? Nov. is National Novel Writing Month

Episode 37: Ready to Write that Memoir or Novel? Nov. is National Novel Writing Month.

November is #NaNoWriMo and we have executive director, Grant Faulkner, on our show. Today we’re talking about novels because we go both ways. And also because storytelling principles are the same when writing fiction or nonfiction. Get inspired and join millions of people around the world who are racing to finish a book this month. Allison’s in the race.

Writing Class Radio is a podcast that brings you true, personal stories written in an actual memoir writing class and a little instruction on how to write your own stories.

Writing Class Radio is co-hosted by student Allison Langer and teacher Andrea Askowitz. This podcast is equal parts heart and art. By heart, we mean getting to the truth and by art, we mean the craft of writing.

Grant is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month and the author of “Pep Talks For Writers. 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo.” Among other things, Faulkner talks about the importance of what you wear when you write, making time to write, and knowing thyself. You’ll hear from students Aaron Curtis and Liz Marquardt and producer, Virginia Lora. They responded to one of Grant’s writing tips, You are what you wear. You will also hear from Mike Gonzalez, a student in the class Allison teaches at the Dade Correctional Institution as a facilitator for Exchange for Change.

Writing Class Radio is produced by Virginia Lora, Andrea Askowitz and Allison Langer. We are sponsored by and recorded at the University of Miami School of Communication. This episode is sponsored by the Gold Valley Consulting. Hire Cristina Baldor to do all the administrative stuff that bogs you down.

Our fall writing contest is officially on! The prompt is Secret Pleasure. Details on our website. You can make writing a daily practice. We have a growing community of  listeners who respond to our daily prompts and give feedback to each other. Join the party. Click on Daily Prompts on our website.

Theme music by Ari Herstand. Additional music by Emia, Bluejay, Jason Sager, and Podington Bear. You can find all our music on our website.

Thanks to Matt Cundill from Matt Cundill Voiceovers for reading Mike’s story. If you need a voice (male or female) for your radio project or podcast contact Matt. Besides for his beautiful voice, Matt also has a beautiful face and heart.

On this episode of Writing Class Radio we ask you to support our 20+2 campaign. Give $20 and get two people to subscribe. Our goal is 2,000 new listeners and $20,000 by the end of the year. Please help us reach our goal. Please go to writingclassradio.com and hit the 20+2 button.

There’s more writing class on our website (www.writingclassradio.com), twitter (@wrtgclassradio) and Facebook.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other than by writing and sharing our stories.

 

Bye-Bye Facebook, Goodbye

By Ariel C.

Ariel is a student in our Saturday writing workshop series at the Lowe Art Museum. He wrote this story in response to the prompt, Something You Don't Understand.

I really don’t understand how people can be posting crap on social media all day. Seriously, my Facebook feed has become littered with selfies, stupid videos of people doing dumb things, political rhetoric, trips to “exotic places”, food porn and now there is a friend of mine who thinks he is a fucking theater critic and writes these long and boring recounts of the shows he goes to see. The last one was about Hamilton. I haven’t seen it, but after reading just a little bit of his review, I’m definitely NOT interested.

I have to log into Facebook and social media for work, after all, how can you be an “influencer” if you don’t “influence” anybody. I just try to keep it simple and post only about the cool things that are happening in the tech world. I must do this so the people working in the worst profession in the world, Public Relations that is, keep us in their sights when there are client projects coming.

Sometimes when I’m posting the coolest stuff like why artificial intelligence is going to replace all our jobs with giant robots…, fucking crickets… not many people seem to care but, there are always the ardent supporters who will hit like and retweet whatever you post, even if you are sharing a picture of a gigantic horse turd. One of these days I’m going to send everyone to fuck themselves and close all my social media accounts without even a sweet tweet goodbye. I doubt they’ll miss me, after all, there is so much crap on social media already.

For more stories like this one and a lesson or two or three on writing, listen to Writing Class Radio, a podcast that brings you stories from our real writing class and will inspire you to get started on writing your own stories. Check our resource page for writing teachers we love,  contests, places to submit and more.

Episode 28: Who Has Time?

Get ready folks, Allison and Andrea are hosting this episode together: an episode about time. Student Allison Langer is obsessed with the lack of time she has lately. So, in class teacher, Andrea Askowitz, gave this prompt: I wish I had more time to_______.

Andrea reads her story from class about wanting more time to work.  Allison reads a story she brought into class about wanting more time PERIOD. You will also hear responses to the prompt, I wish I had more time to _______ from students Diego Saldana-Rojas, Lis Mesa and Viccy Simon.

Allison and Andrea discuss the stories and try to figure out why people without children have no time. Ok, so maybe they have a full time job, but still.

We’d love to know how your life is affected by time? If you have time, send us your thoughts on twitter @wrtgclassradio. Or on our Facebook page or email us at info@writingclassradio.com

If you love this podcast, tell your friends.

If you want to hear your story on our show, enter our writing contest. Here’s the prompt: Write about something you don’t understand. For example, I don’t understand where my time goes. For contest details visit writingclassradio.com.

Writing Class Radio is produced by Diego Saldana Rojas,  Virginia lora, Allison Langer and Andrea Askowitz. Theme music by Daniel Correa. Additional music by Adriel Borshansky, Bluejay and Ari Herstand


Writing Class Radio is sponsored by and recorded at the University of Miami School of Communication. There’s more writing class on our website. Study the stories we study and listen to our craft-talks. If you don’t want to participate in our writing contest but still want a prompt, pick one of our daily prompts from our website or follow us on Twitter where we post prompts daily.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other, than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

 

Episode 27: When Is it Okay to Bullshit?

Lies seem to be the new norm in our world. There’s probably a bumper sticker that says Lies Are the New Truth. Great bumper sticker, but it has Andrea Askowitz totally freaked out. Andrea is the teacher of the class and the host for this episode, which is about lies in stories and lies in the world. It starts with a story by a new student, Claudia Franklin, that got us thinking about truth and lies in memoir and when, if ever, is lying fair game.

Claudia’s story takes a surprising turn as she imagines what life would have been like if her father wasn’t the hen-pecked man he really was. Her story left Andrea wondering when, if ever, is trust broken between narrator and listener/reader.

Fifteen years ago, Andrea took her first memoir writing class from Terrie Silverman and has lived by and preached the tenet she learned. Terrie said, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth.”  Andrea took that to mean that it was okay to exaggerate or change little facts for the sake of a bigger emotional truth.

There’s an unspoken pact between a memoir writer and reader or listener that says, what’s being shared is the truth. But what is the truth?

In 2003, James Frey wrote a book called A Million Little Pieces. The book  was distributed as memoir. But Frey stretched the truth in a few places. In one example, he wrote that he spent 87 days in jail. According to police records, he served 5 hours. A lot of people thought he lied, including Oprah.

Andrea wrote a story once about taking her wife, Vicky, to a tantric sex retreat. The story’s about how she couldn’t handle the intimacy and acted like a clown the whole time. They had to do intimacy exercises including Tai Chi, where, in the privacy of their hotel room, they were instructed to stand facing each other, perform pelvic thrusts back and forth, then arm motions with elbows in, and hands out to the sides. Andrea added jazz hands.

Except she didn’t actually add jazz hands in their hotel room. She wished she had. Instead, in the story she wrote, she added jazz hands because she thought jazz hands perfectly expressed her feelings in that moment.

Allison Langer, co-producer and student in the class, challenged her. When Andrea says she tells the truth, Allison says, “What about jazz hands?”

Before this current presidential election, Andrea would have defended jazz hands as an expression of her truth. Now she’s not sure. Because now something has shifted in our culture. Now, we don’t know what we’re getting from America’s highest office. And now with the normalization of lies no one knows what to believe.

The truth stretching in storytelling that used to be okay for Andrea, doesn’t feel as okay anymore. Now, she’s afraid no one’s going to believe her stories.

What Terrie said, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth,” is happening more than ever. Especially outside of the boundaries of storytelling. No one’s letting the facts get in the way of their truth, and that feels dangerous. So, in a panic, Andrea called Terrie Silverman, to ask her if storytellers can be trusted anymore.

Terrie alleviates Andrea’s fears. She says that the rules are different in storytelling and politics. Politics are about manipulation and propaganda. Stories are about getting to a deep truth. Intentions are different. And the number one intention of the memoir writer is to get to his or her truth.

Now Andrea understands why it felt like James Frey broke the pact.  Because we question his intention; He didn’t seem to be going after a bigger truth.

Now Andrea thinks that if anything has changed for storytellers because of the lying culture we’ve been thrust into lately, it’s that now, more than ever, we need jazz hands.

When do you think it’s okay to bullshit? We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts on Twitter @wrtgclassradio. Or on our Facebook page or email us info@writingclassradio.com

If you live in Los Angeles, take class with Terrie Silverman. Find her online at creativerites.com.

If you want to hear your story on our show, enter our writing contest. Here’s the prompt: Write about something you don’t understand. For more details visit writingclassradio.com.

Writing Class Radio is produced by Diego Saldana Rojas,  Virginia lora, Allison Langer and me, Andrea Askowitz. Theme music by Daniel Correa. Additional music by Josh Woodward and Kevin McLeud.

Writing Class Radio is sponsored by and recorded at the University of Miami School of Communication. There’s more writing class on our website. Study the stories we study and listen to our craft-talks.   If you don’t want to participate in our writing contest but still want a prompt, pick one of our daily prompts from our website or follow us on Twitter where we post prompts daily.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other, than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story.  What’s yours?

Episode 25: A Time I Fucked Up Part 2

We picked two winners of our first annual writing contest. Listeners responded to the prompt: A Time I Fucked Up. We got tons of submissions revealing your major fuck ups and tons revealing your little mess ups. One woman’s vacation slideshow accidentally included a naked selfie. Another woman almost killed a sheep. One did kill a chicken. And here’s what gringa Hope Torrents said to her Spanish mother-in-law on Thanksgiving. “Hoy es el dia del polvo,” which means, “Today is the the day of the fuck.”  

What we know about good storytelling is that it doesn’t matter if the mistake was big or small. The story is not as much about what happened to a person, as what the storyteller makes of that experience.

Susan Buttenweiser is the winner featured on this episode. She teaches writing in New York City public schools, in a women’s prison and in a juvenile facility. In her story about getting into a bar fight, she discovers a persistent character trait--a need to be needed. Sometimes that need puts her in danger. But she re-channels that urge into motherhood.

Diego Saldana-Rojas, our audio producer and student in the class, responded to the prompt with a story about the time he fucked up the audio at Writing Class Radio’s live show. Diego is extremely hard on himself and takes the listener into a dark fantasy about torturing himself for repeated failures. Like Susan, Diego is looking to discover what it is about him, what is that persistent trait, that sets him up for failure.

Thank you for listening to Writing Class Radio. We hope you enjoyed hearing from our listeners. We had so much fun with this contest that we’re holding another one. Deadline is April 30, 2017. More details on our website. Here’s the prompt: Write About Something You Don’t Understand.

If you’d like to participate in one of our workshops, visit our website. If you don’t want to enter our contest, but want a prompt to get you writing, we post them on our website or follow us on Twitter @wrtgclassradio where we post daily prompts daily.

Writing Class Radio is sponsored by and recorded at the University of Miami School of Communication. Writing Class Radio is produced by Andrea Askowitz, Diego Saldana-Rojas, Virginia Lora and Allison Langer. Theme music by Daniel Correa. Additional music by Andy G. Cohen, Julie Maxwell, and Rest You Sleeping Giant. 

 

This episode is sponsored by Puzzle Israel. If you’re looking for a customized tour of Israel with the coolest, smartest, nicest people, go with Puzzle Israel. Find them at PuzzleIsrael.com.

There’s more writing class on our website writingclassradio.com. Study the stories we study and enjoy our craft talks.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other, than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story.  What’s yours?

Episode 17: Circuit Boys, Gym Rats, Papi Chulos, Fashion Queens, Bears...Which One Are You?

EPISODE 17: Circuit Boys, Gym Rats, Papi Chulos, Fashion Queens, Bears...Which One Are You?

LISTEN NOW!

This episode explores perspective, how sometimes it takes years to figure out that something you did or thought was totally fucked up. Bo tells his story about getting blocked from a 1-900 gay hotline. But the story is really about how it took him years to become comfortable enough with himself to stop judging the free expression he witnessed among the gay people he first encountered on Miami Beach 24 years ago.  Bo came from the deep South in search of freedom from oppression. He wanted gay book clubs and stimulating political conversations with other like-minded gay men. But what he found instead were all kinds of people who fit into categories he describes as circuit boys, gym rats, fashion queens, papi chulos, and bears. He felt like he didn’t fit in. He didn’t want to fit in. But when Bo called the gay hotline to try to “save the gay soul” and made fun of it, he realized he was imparting the same hurtful and hateful church messages he came to Miami Beach to get away from.

Twenty-four years later, our teacher Andrea Askowitz sits down with Bo on Lincoln Road, the heart of South Beach to talk about what’s changed and how he changed. 

Andrea tells her own story about trying to “save the straight soul” when she finds out that her next door neighbor doesn’t like lesbians.  (Her neighbor’s housekeeper told Andrea’s housekeeper). So Andrea tries to make friends with her.  When that backfires, Andrea brings cookies to her neighbor but “forgets” to wear shoes. And a bra. 

Set your timer for 11 minutes to be queer. Here’s the prompt: Everyone’s hiding something. What are you in the closet about? Go.

Record what you wrote on the voice memo of your phone and send it to info@writingclassradio.com

Original music in this episode is by Cat Cousteau and Blue Jay. Theme music by  Adriel Borshansky.  

This episode is sponsored by the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, created by Tom DeMarchi, where there’s a powerhouse lineup including: Richard Blanco, Joyce Maynard, Steve Almond, Darin Strauss, Karen Tolchin, Steven Elliot, and Sue Monk Kidd. Awesome, awesome storytellers and authors. And you can take classes with all of them. Including Andrea Askowitz.

November 3-6, 2016. It’s also really, beautiful, perfect beach weather.  Click Sanibel Island Writers Conference before it sells out.