Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Narrative nonfiction is what's happening at U of T summer school . . . .


 In recent weeks, I purchased two books written by emerging writers who had passed through one of my University of Toronto workshops. And I had long since collected The Monks and Me by yet one more: Mary Paterson. I would like to say that all of these publications are down to me. But I don't dare. People would call me out. Put it this way: at least I didn't get in the way! And here we are again, scarcely more than one month from starting (July 11) my one-week intensive course in narrative nonfiction (aka creative nonfiction) at the U of T summer writing school. A number of folks have already registered, wisely bent on securing the $50 discount offered for early-bird registration. 

As you can see, I do ask for submissions (up to 1,500 words) so we can hit the ground running. Below, we find a nutshell description and an image of the official "me." Dr. Jekyll. We do have a good time. And I do believe that this workshop can move you forward. Click here for Course Details. And come on down!
Meanwhile, here's that nutshell description: Anyone looking for today's most exciting writing should check out Narrative Non-Fiction, an emerging genre in which writers apply literary techniques to factual narrative. This course will orient writers within the genre, which includes both personal streams (memoir, autobiography, travelogue) and impersonal ones (true-crime writing, biography, historical narrative, immersion reporting). The workshop focuses on craft, and will include lectures, discussions, exercises, and workshopping student writing.
You have to register before submitting material.  Please submit a story--maximum 1,500 words: scs.writing@utoronto.ca  Note:  these pieces will be uploaded so that students can read each other's work before the start of the course.
Required Textbook: The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism by Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda, ISBN-13: 978-0684846309--available at the U of T Bookstore.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ken and Sheena's Excellent Adventure in the Scottish Highlands





  • In Perth, we had dinner at the Hightower Hotel with my long-lost, DNA-found cousin Jim McGugan.
  • In Sutherland, we visited Dunrobin Castle, the most politically incorrect edifice in Britain.
  • In Helmsdale, by about an hour, we missed coincidentally encountering our Orcadian pal, historian Tom Muir . . . and so failed to meet his new wife!
  • We almost got killed when, on a narrow two-lane road, with a rock wall on our side, the driver of an oncoming camper-van decided to pass a group of cyclists and swung out into our lane. I managed to slow just enough . . . .
  • At a bank machine in Stornoway, while withdrawing funds, we encountered Toronto writer Heather Birrell, who is sojourning on the Isle of Lewis. 
  • While staying at Fort William, we made our way to the top of a mountain in the Nevis Range. All right, all right: we rode a gondola
  • At Waterstone’s Books in Oban, in a section called Recommended Reading, we came upon five copies of Fatal Passage. This was after we found two copies at a bookstore in Portree. Hats off to Bantam Books for keeping the work alive after fifteen years -- and to my agent, Beverley Slopen, for bringing that team aboard.
  • In Helensburgh, we visited a National Trust property, Carisbrooke House, and got inside an addition created by William Fraser, Sheena’s architect grandfather.
  • Along the way, somehow, we amassed an unconscionable pile of obscure books.
  • As to how it all fits together, well, that will emerge in due course.