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“A Real-Life Game of Clue”: Nancy recaps our Italy retreat!

 

Picture this: 15 writers gather high in the rainy hills of Italy in an old medieval palace for a week…and someone gets murdered! Was it Kathy in the granary? Miss Jude in the kitchen? Charmaine in the red tower? Madam Marie in the dining room with the spider? Kim and Kirsten in the arches with the gargoyle? Professor Oliver in the billards room or the twins Beth and Nicole in the Saints Bedroom? Was it Cath in the Rose room or Gina in the library with the candle?

Thankfully nobody was actually murdered during our Springtime in Italy retreat, but if we’d wanted to play a real-life game of Clue, this would have been the place! As one of our participants, John Wheway, said: “This is the craziest place I have ever stayed!” and I couldn’t agree more. From holding classes in the medieval olive oil cellar to Jayne Martin ending up in the carefully preserved “cardinal’s bed”, our retreat at Palazzo Forani was haunted, mysterious, and beautiful, the space an antique relic lovingly cared for by the Forani sisters, who became like family. The wine and words kept flowing, the language barrier made for some great laughs, and the spring rain kept us inside the palace and focused on writing. Our final night salon in the Virgil tapestry room was dreamy and unreal. Good food was eaten, good friendships made. Forever grateful to such an amazing group of writers coming together and laying it all out on the (pasta) table in Casperia, Italy. It was an honor to both facilitate and be part of the group creative process. Saluti until we meet again! ~Nancy

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Kathy fish, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Today you can’t talk about Love…

cropped-beach-writer11.jpgWe writers want so much to talk about the Big Things, the Important Things. But it’s daunting to address the big things like Love and Hate and Death and Loss and Injustice, especially for the flash fiction writer.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech novelist Kazuo Ishiguro said, “But in the end, stories are about one person saying to another: This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it also feel this way to you?”

Dear Writer, I want you to know this: You can talk about these things indirectly. By conveying as well as you can the small moments.

Emily Dickinson famously said, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

And Joy Williams said, “So many times in a single day we glimpse a view beyond the apparent. Write those moments down. They might not speak to you at first. But eventually they might. Everybody writes too long and too much anyway, sacrificing significance for story.”

Today, you can’t talk about Death, but you can write about the small, significant moments around Death.

Unable to fully process my father’s death and our complicated relationship, I instead wrote about an inebriated woman escaping her father’s funeral reception with a complete stranger in order to look at gaudy necklaces at Walgreen’s in my story, “Disassembly.”

Today, you can’t talk about Love, but you can find those moments that are emblematic of love and loss.

Today, you can’t talk about Loneliness, but you can write a scene involving a teenager standing outside the school dance, not joining in because he feels there is no one there to welcome him.

Today, you can’t talk about Yearning, but you can capture a moment of longing that will break your reader’s heart.

Today, you can’t talk about Evil, but maybe the best way to talk about Evil is to create monsters on the page. Maybe fairy tales are your way in. Or create an absurd story. Or a surreal one. 

Give your readers the small, potent moments that vibrate with meaning and resonance and emotion. Give the world the story that only you can tell, dear writer. Use everything you’ve got.

~Kathy