Summer in Words

Writing Conference

Falling Into Another Time

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Author Emily Whitman will be teaching two workshops at the conference, Private Lies and Paring it Down to the Truth.

From her website, here’s her piece on time travel, Falling into Another Time

At one point I was going to teach European history. I even went to graduate school to learn how. I apologize now to all the undergraduates in my American History section. That’s right, American. The program was desperate for TAs. You got the wrong one.

But it’s lucky I didn’t become a history professor. I have no head for remembering dates. What I do have is a passion for stories. Plunging deep into a different time and place, a foreign world, and hearing it, smelling it, feeling the emotions of the people living then—that’s what I wanted. I’ve heard the author’s life described as a form of schizophrenia. The world you create becomes absolutely real to you. There you are, breathing in the air of a nonexistent world, hearing the voices of nonexistent people. When I’m driving I have to make sure not to start thinking of the thread of a story, or I start driving on autopilot as the scenes sweep over me.

When I was in high school, I used to walk in the mountain foothills behind our house. Because of the ridges and valleys, within ten minutes of leaving home, there would be no signs of civilization. I’d avoid looking at my clothes so I could imagine it was a hundred years ago—five hundred! Who would I meet? How would I fit in? Would the inhabitants kill me? I decided the best solution would be a “home-stay” program to the past. Someone would provide a handy guidebook of local customs and etiquette, and a contact to watch out for me and tell people I was a visiting cousin. That way I could visit the past and survive.

Recently, I realized that’s exactly what I do as a writer. I research and imagine the place I’m going: that’s my handy guidebook. Then I set up “contact people” in the new world, otherwise known as “characters.” And then I pick up my pen, step out of my day and age, and into another world.

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Author: jessicapage2

Jessica Page Morrell lives in Portland, Oregon where she is surrounded by writers and watches the sky all its moods and shades. She’s the author of Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected; Bullies, Bastards & Bitches, How to Write the Bad Guys in Fiction; The Writer’s I Ching: Wisdom for the Creative Life, Voices from the Street; Between the Lines: Master The Subtle Elements Of Fiction Writing; and Writing Out the Storm. Morrell works as a highly-sought after developmental editor because if your characters are a bundle of quirks and inconsistencies, or the plot stalls and the scenes don’t flow, these problems need to be unriddled before you submit it to an agent or editor. She also works on memoirs and nonfiction books with a special focus on logic and voice. She began teaching writers in 1991 and now teaches through a series of workshops in the Northwest and at writing conferences throughout North America and lectures to various writing organizations. She is the former writing expert at iVillage.com which was voted as one of the best 101 sites for writers. In 2008 she founded Summer in Words, a yearly writing conference held on the Oregon coast. She hosts a Web site at www.writing-life.com, and she’s written a monthly column about topics related to writing since 1998 that currently appears in The Willamette Writer. She also contributes to The Writer and Writers Digest magazines, writes a monthly e-mail newsletter, The Writing Life, and a Web log at http://thewritinglifetoo.blogspot.com

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