The Writing Workshop for Dummies

Today I celebrate the publication of my pedagogy paper, The Writing Workshop for Dummies: how the new teacher can mentor first-time writing students, which was recently published by the University of Gloucestershire. I wrote it a few of years ago, during my Creative Writing MFA program at National University, and slightly revised it based on notes from the University.

The paper was one of seven selected and is also available online. It can be read here.

Feedback, as always, is welcome and appreciated. Enjoy!

The Accidental Blogger

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NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is over

Well folks, it’s official: National Novel Writing Month ended on November 30th. I was off to a great start, but by Day 4, things began to waver. First came a weekend job in Las Vegas, grading papers, family obligations and the biggest hurdle of all: my partner was offered a job in Oregon, which meant packing up our apartment and being without furniture for a week. Then came the actual drive to Oregon, moving things in, buying things we left behind or lost, trying to explore an unfamiliar city, etc. Before I knew it, November was over and my novel was only in its beginning stages.

I did not let that deter me, however, because the important thing is that I started my first novel. With a draft of four chapters (and a prologue) complete, I can move forward and keep writing. Although I did not win NaNoWriMo by finishing the novel, at least it’s off to a great start and I have something to build on for the months to come.

Oregon is a different experience from LA, and although I am only here until the 13th of December to help the hubby settle in, now that I can finally breathe, I hope to resume the novel and write as much as I can before my journey back to California. The fact that it actually feels like Winter here will be a true inspiration, I’m sure.

To anyone who didn’t finish, keep writing away. The start is all that matters; the rest will come easily. Don’t give up.

Write on!

The Accidental Blogger

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Happy Thanksgiving to all the writers out there!

Hope your NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month) novels are coming along smoothly. Gobble up some turkey and get to it before time runs out.

Happy Writing!

The Accidental Blogger

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2010 Valley Film Fest…3 days and counting…

I first got involved with the Valley Film Festival (VFF) in 2006, when my short film, Madame Priscilla’s was selected to screen as part of their “Girls on Film” category. It was the first time my film had participated in a film festival, and I was really impressed with the kindness and support from founder Tracey Adlai and her staff and volunteers. The screening went well; we won the audience award in our category, and the next year I came back as a VFF volunteer.

VFF is like the little festival that could. Founded in 2000, it is a project of Community Partners®, and holds the proud title of the first film festival in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. It’s goal is to bring together established filmmakers, emerging talent, and their audiences on the studio backlot – just North of Hollywood.

Since it’s premiere in 2001, alongside the grand reopening of Pacific Theatres at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, The Valley Film Festival has found a permanent home at the historic El Portal Theatre located in the NoHo Arts District. This year, it’s 10th, the festival is moving its screening to the CAP Theatre in Sherman Oaks, after a first day expo and opening night party at the El Portal.

The 2010 fest will take place from November 11th-14th.

Further information, and a schedule of films, can be found at www.valleyfilmfest.com

If you’re in the LA area, you can RSVP for the opening night party on Thursday, November 11th, here.

To celebrate 10 years of showcasing independent cinema, The Valley Film Festival has teamed up with Advantage Video Systems (AVS) to launch The 1st Annual Valley Indie Filmmaker Expo to further promote the exhibition, production, and education of filmmaking in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.

You can RSVP for the expo here.

VFF has made a huge impact on my life as a filmmaker. I have received nothing but support from Tracey and the rest of the crew. It’s always motivating to meet new people, see great films, and mingle with like-minded filmmakers.

Congrats to VFF for it’s 10th year!!!!

Until next time,

The Accidental Blogger

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NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) officially begins!

It’s November 1st and for writers across the country, that means National Novel Writing Month has officially begun. I’m excited to have begun my first novel, and this is both harder and easier than I thought. I am the kind of writer who proofreads as he writes, but it’s nice to write with no inhibitions. I like letting the words flow without worrying that they aren’t strong or good enough. There’s always time to edit, revise, and rework after the month is over.

This is a fantastic challenge for a first-time novelist like myself, and I am excited to see where the month takes me. I hope I finish my novel by the 30th. It would be an amazing accomplishment.

Stay tuned,

The Accidental Blogger

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National Novel Writing Month (November)

As I get ready to begin work on my first novel, I’m realizing how crucial it is to set goals and receive support. And there is no better way to do that than to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which begins on November 1st.

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2009, there were over 165,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by the web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Just visit the How NaNoWriMo Works page!

So what do you say? Will you join me in completing a novel in one month’s time? If you’re up for the challenge and decide to sign up, make sure to add me as a writing buddy. Username: Sgureghian

So start thinking of some ideas, and write on!

The Accidental Blogger

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‘The Birthday Gift’ goes Canadian

I’ve mentioned my short film, The Birthday Gift in a couple of previous blogs. I wrote the screenplay in a short film writing class as an undergraduate at California State University, Northridge. About a year later,  with the help of an amazing crew, and fantastic director, Marie Tang, I managed to turn the script into a film.

With The Birthday Gift, I tried to tell an important story and bring awareness to the subject of child sexual abuse.  Weaving the story of Hilary Parker took a period of two years.  Writing the initial draft took less than a week, and that became a starting board for my research about the subject, and figuring out how to tell the story in the best way possible.  Once my second draft was ready, director Marie Tang and I worked very closely in shaping the script and getting it ready for shooting.

As a writer, all I can hope is that people find something good in the story, my writing, and of course, the film as a whole.  A lot of people worked very hard to tell this story, and they did it in very little time.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have the luxury of a four or five day shoot.  With five separate locations, and only a 2 and a half day shooting schedule, we scrambled to get everything done and tell the story in an effective way.  The final product differs a bit from my complex script, but I am very proud of this film, and what we’ve all accomplished with it.

In some surprising news, I found out the Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto will be giving the film what will likely be its final screening. The film is scheduled to screen on Saturday, October 23rd, at noon, as part of the Symphony of Film category. As an added bonus, one of my best friend’s two brothers each have their own films sandwiched between mine. What a perfect opportunity it would have been to travel to Toronto. If only I had found out about the screening sooner!

I would love it if anyone in Canada would go support this terrific festival and its films. For those of you not in Canada, you can view The Birthday Gift online as part of the Break the Silence Project or Culture Unplugged online festival.

Enjoy, and spread the word!

The Accidental Blogger

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