Writing Corner: Amanda Wells, Founder of FLOW: Where Writing Moves

 

 

 FLOW STL staff.

Amanda Wells is pictured on the far left.

 

 I consider Amanda Wells as a writer’s writer.  She is knowledgeable, accessible and a constant source of strength and collaboration. After completeing her undergrad and graduate degrees at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, she established the creative-writer group FLOW:  Where Writing Moves. Another acrosymn she gave me for FLOW is For [the] Love Of Writing. I couldn’t agree more.

FLOW is based here in St. Louis, Missouri, with its artistic residence in the Grand Art Center, down from Saint Louis University on Grand Boulevard. It’s a mix of everything there! From music, to spoken word, artistic collaboration, to writing space. There’s something there for everyone!

 What sure you ask about SPARK!

 

What They Do And Why That Is Amazing

 “We’re a close team of writers, teachers and scholars who believe in the power of individual creativity to connect people. We work together to build strong communities by fostering meaningful writing and storytelling experiences.”

[taken from FLOW:  Where Writing Moves homepage]  

Does it take a village to raise a writer? Sometimes.

There are portions of the creative work where it is beneficial to have a sounding board or at least a few like minded people to keep you from going utterly mad. Worse yet burning anything you have written  and called your work.

How do I know this?

When I was writing RUBY, it was the founder and phenom, Amanda, that talked me off multiple ledges. It was her firm grip ton reality that helped me edit and to finish the book.

 

(RUBY now available at The Novel Neighbor.)

It was at one of her Saturday open collaboration spaces at FLOW that confirmed writing is indeed what I want to spend my life doing. It was brainstorming in that space which allowed me the freedom to expand my novel. In that space of bouncing off ideas, I began to think about what I was working on and possibility of thinking it could be more.

I am of the belief that every writer needs a community. Writing can be lonely and draining! It is refreshing to have a space that is dedicated to that cultivation. FLOW STL is a tool for local writers here in St. Louis Ana is one of the cities best kept secrets!

The website offers other interactive classes and forums as well. The first writing retreat was this October not too far from St. Louis. FLOW STL has a Patreon available and active for those that desire to help with its mission.

Christopher Priest said a real writer can write anything. I agree. And in writing the anything, you need all the help you can get. FLOW STL and its staff are patron saints. They have taken the task off helping all those of us crazy enough to believe we can bend these 26 letter as we see fit.

[images from FLOW STL, and authors album]

2019 NEW PROJECT-FOR A BLACK GIRL

The new year brings new projects!

The latest labor of love via pages is a book of compiled essays based on experiences of African-American/Black women. These essays can range experiences where you were ignored, underestimated or rendered not worthy of respect. The key phrase I have often heard in situations where I was seen as less than, I often heard this as a antecedent/predicate phrase, “For a Black girl” or ‘…for a black girl.”

I would like the essays submitted to be to reflect these challenges, and their outcomes! I want the women whom decide to submit to this book to think of the phrase the author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide But The Rainbow Was Enuf, Ntozake Shange said:

“I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive. I can only change how they live, not how they think.”

I want the book to be a reminder of how great Black women are. I want it to be a book of encouragement, even if the reader is provoked to tears. I want it to be a record that what was meant to kill a Black girl–only missed or nicked her. 

If you would be interested in submitting an essay to this book, or would like more information, please contact sgwritingservices@icloud.com with the subject line reading “For Black A Girl.” I look forward to hearing from you!

[image from videoblock.com]

-JBHarris

For My Grandmother, Arceal Williams

Today, this morning marks 5 years since my grandmother has passed. Here is what I would want:

I want to go over her house today at 4221 Prairie Avenue, with the swinging gate that creaks. I want dogs to be barking as soon as the gate shuts with a metal clanging protest. I want to walk up the brick walkway—looking at the lush magnolia tree. I want to talk up the gray stairs to her front porch. I want to knock on her front door with the ‘family knock.’

I want her to open the door without her walker, glasses and eyes bright. Her gray hair pulled back. I want the smells of Lysol baptized floors to greet me. “What made you come by!” I want to kiss her cheek, clean and smelling of Nadiola cream. I want to smile at her, betraying nothing. “I just wanted to see you.”

I want to sit in her front room, on that same cream colored couch, inviting and warm. “Did you eat?” I smile, stomach rumbling. “No ma’am.” I want her to laugh loud, her drawl evident and soothing. “Come getchu something den!”

I want a plate she’s make me; making me full with her presence, strong with her whit, ready with her strength. “What’s been goin on baby?” I want to kiss her face again with the plate of leftovers in front of me on her dark oak table. She would sit across from me, snapping beans or wiping counters. Bleach and lemons steadying me.

I want to tell her I’m writing. I want her to know I took her advice. I want her to know the girls want to know how to sew in the Spring. “That’s good, Jennifer.” She never did call me Jenn. “Grandma, I finished my first novel!” I want to drink her sweet tea, watching her reaction. “I knew you could do it! You was always so pretty and smart!” I want to study her favorite red house dress. The paisley pattern making her look more regal than I ever thought. Her hair coifed and short. Her hand would be on her hip. She would look at me, giving me future and past. The one standing as the ten-thousand Maya Angelou spoke of.

As I finished my plate, she’s come close to me and just hug me. She was never one for words. But in her love, in that embrace, her love would soothe the jagged parts. The parts that wonder how, why and keep me dreaming. “So proud of you, Jennifer. And bring me a copy of all those books to put in the China cabinet.”

I would hug her back, “Yes ma’am.” I’d squeeze her once more. I’d help clean up, and she’d tell me how I’m not doing it quite right. I’d ask if she needed anything. She’d lie and say no. Fiercely independent at almost 90. Don’t wait so long to come by!” She’d pat my hand, kissing it. “I’ll see you later, Grandma.” I’d say. She would smile at me, and I’d hug her again, going towards the front door. Leaving the solace of her warm green kitchen, the sleeping watch dogs to go face the world again.

*Note: This image was taken on the actual front porch of my grandmother’s house here in St. Louis, MO. It was also used for the cover of my book, WriteLife. If you would like to purchase a copy, click here.

October Theme: Writing Horror

Image result for harvest time

 

The theme for October will be something some may find frighten everyone whom writes:  loss of the gift, or believing the gift or talent is gone.

This is going to a hard one, and it’s going to be a little more personal. We’re going to delve into some of the things that hinder, stop or halt writing.

I invite you all to chime in, be honest and transparent.

The only way to get through this type of fear is in community.

Buckle up, it’ll be a bumpy ride–be we’ll make it.

 

 

With Pen & Ink,

JBHarris

Announcement #2

This webinar begins Saturday and the webinar will be on this site!

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  1. What is a writer?
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Story & project developing
  4. The importance of editing
  • The initial webinar will be streamed to the Facebook page on 8/18.
  • If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact me at sgwritingservices@icloud.com.
  • Announcements!

    Image result for announcements

    I am happy to announce the first book of a three book series to be released this week ahead of the writing workshop on Saturday, August 18!

     

    The book is called Bend Blank Pages Volume 1:  Encouragement for Writing!

    I am so proud of this book, and believe it will be a source of hope, and anchor for your written talents and gifts.

    As I writer, I know how hard it is and can be to put all the magic down on paper. The Bend Blank Pages  series aims to build the confidence of new writers, established writers, as well as those whom have abandoned their first love of words.

    It’s a short book, not even 30 pages, and I believe it will indeed help you jump start your writing or begin to love it again! The book has been released on Amazon already and if you would like to check it out for purchase, click here!

    Drop shipping will be available next week!

    If you would like to pre-order now, the cost is $5.00 USD and that can be paid via PayPal (sgllc.1038@yahoo.com) or CashApp ($HereSheCome).

     

     

    Bend Blank Pages: Encouragement For Writing by [Harris, Jennifer P.]

     

     

    Happy writing!

    Jennifer P. Harris

    Is IT In Your Head?

    Image result for writer's block

    I’m going to be honest with you. Writing is hard. One of the best quotes I’ve heard about writers and writing is it being a world inside a person. I completely agree. There are elements to writing that would make you insane to and with any other person, or in any other profession. I mean, writers literally ‘talk’ to themselves. We make up people, places, things and on grand scales? We create whole mythologies.

    The makings of psychopathy, really.

    But in matters of writing, that tendency to create, augment, recreate is what make the craft amazing–and maddening. Is it all in your head? Sad to say, yes it is. The cure is also in your head. You have the cure to writer’s block in your head and hands. The cure for writer’s block–is to write. I wish it were more complex, but it isn’t.

    There are articles and opinions which tell that writer’s block is a psychological wall writers put up, keep up, when they feel material they are writing may be controversial or outside of the norm. I agree.

    There have been pieces of work I have thought about writing, and hesitate with because I either didn’t know how to proceed or didn’t know where to begin. That is a crippling feeling–and writing, being a writer allows that profession to fueled by the muscle of creativity. When that crippling feeling comes–we lock up!

    In experiencing this, what has helped me was free writing. This in invaluable tool to anyone that’s writing! It is a free-flowing writing process, no rules, no time limit, no excuses. In free writing, I can get the idea I am mulling over out of my head.  I can get it on paper, if I can get down–I can see it! If I can see it, I can go forward with it or shelve it until I can get time to continue it.  After the idea is out, I save it. I don’t toss it. Free writing also helps distinguish what work is to be expounded on, and what can be change into something else.

    Worry not. Writer’s block can be conquered. Go forth and conquer.

     

    Jennifer P. Harris

    Editor/Founder-Shekinah Glory Writing Services

     

    When The Words Stop Coming

    Image result for faded letters on typewriter

     

    There was a three year span by which I did not, could not write. Aside from childbirth, it was a the scariest thing I have encountered. The words just wouldn’t come. The magic was gone, the words where gone, my talent was gone. I was inconsolable! It was only when I came out of that space, when I could really talk about it with some knowledge.

    Being a writer, and unable to write–was maddening. It was infuriating. There was, there is a rage that rose up in me like hellfire–quick and hot. On the end of a horrible breakup, it was just one more thing to add to the list of things he took (or I allowed him to take) from me.

    In that three year dessert, nothing happened. I pressed the gift, I teased at it, I cried at the lost of it. I had not wanted something so badly to return to me. Writing, being a writer was my identity, it was something that I considered my own. In this desert, in this Ezekiel space, I couldn’t say the dry bones were or could live, because I didn’t know how I could live! In the lives of writers, words are our blood–it’s a part of who I am.

    Image result for a writer not writing

    There were moments when I saw peeks of the talent I once had. My mother had and would ask me to write or create certain pieces for work, family or friends, but it was nothing like the creative power I knew that I housed. Nothing is more offensive or rage-inducing to writers. I was beyond hurt–worse than the heartbreak that induced the loss of talent in the first place.

    I remember I didn’t even journal because I didn’t see the point. I didn’t see the point! I was out of words. I didn’t have the stamina to make up worlds of my own, and I surely didn’t want to record the foolish my own world. However, when people know you can write, they don’t know the struggle you encounter while maintaining that gift–that talent. In their blissful ignorance, they pull on your gift–because they need it.

    Writer’s block is real, beloveds. That desert awaits all those whom are writers and authors. It is unavoidable, and only preventable on certain levels. But it is not insurmountable! However, to overcome it is a process. It is always a process. There are whole website dedicated to overcoming writer’s block, and one of the most reputable is Writer’s Digest . Like most craftsmen, whom are serious about what they build, invest in their tools. They build a tool box that will be able handle the potential issues in what is being built. Being a writer is no different.

    Build your tool kit.

     

    The kit needs to be able to help you with develop your talent, and to help with the eventuality of writer’s block. Tool boxes are supposed to be filled with things you will use, and will be able to use in order to refer. It is better to be proactive, than reactive in these cases. Don’t be caught in the desert, and your canteen is empty because you never took time to fill it when the streams where nearby. The desert is coming–don’t be caught thirsty.

     

    Jennifer P. Harris

    Editor/Founder-Shekinah Glory Writing Services

    What Is Writers Block?

    The enemy of every writer, and our driving force is the same:  words.

    Writer’s block is defined as a condition of not knowing what to think of or how to proceed with writing. This block is beyond a lull when and where you aren’t writing! It can literally feel like a block or a wall in your flow of creativity. Such a drag!  It can feel as if the knack or the rhythm even the gift for writing has left you.

    There was an article that I read last year that freed me on the level only other writers can recognize. Writer’s block is a myth. It’s all in your head. Writer’s block is all psychological–it’s a what happens when you concentrate more on  the subject of what you’re writing rather than the process of writing. In concentrating on what you’re writing more than the process of writing, you are stymied. From that stymying–hence, writer’s block.

    It can be frustrating to see what it is between you and your current project! However, in overcoming this issue, which all writers one time or another face, try these simple tactics:

    1.) Refocus your attention.  Every story starts as an idea. Your idea and your story. Before you become obsessed with editors, revisions and audience.  It is your idea, your baby. Do the research. Do the freewrites. Focus and create!

    2.) Focus on the writing, not what people will think. Toni Morrison said when she wrote The Bluest Eye, the reason she wrote it, and finished writing it, because she wanted to read it. She wanted to read it. This is crucial to remember. If you try to focus on what the audience will be pleased with, you will never write. A writer cannot be subject to the shifting moods of the audience. Your first audience is your imagination. The second audience will be, should be, your screen or yielded pen and paper. Keep this foremost in your thoughts.

    3.) Write scared. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to write knowing it scares us a tad bit. When we write about the things which shake us a little, there is a level of creativity which is released that may have never been discovered had there not been an element which would cause it to spring forth. Writing is never a safe profession. It’s never going to be or become a safe profession! There are elements to writing which are never going to be safe, likeable or which would make one humble. It is the secret and public duty of a writers to record what they see or think, or exercise the things which roll around our heads. Blogger and writer Luvvie Ajayi said this during a TED Talk  in December 2017, to “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” I couldn’t agree more.

    Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Writers are the unique and weird ones who pull life and work out of the air. You cannot afford to remain afraid in that title–to overcome writer’s block, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. There is no choice in that matter! There will always be a way, a topic, an issue that will make you hesitant to write. It is a demon, a monster,  you have to become able to identify and slay.

    Don’t fear its slaying, beloveds!

    You will slay it with mind and pen.

     

    Jennifer P. Harris

    Editor/Founder-Shekinah Glory Writing Services