Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tea Room Haiga

Book Description

I thought, my life would be like Cinderella’s.
Just like she, I would be swept off my feet by my prince.
I thought I would, just like Cinderella, live in fantasy.
But it didn’t turn out that way at all…
Not after years, not after decades.
And I have come to realize
that what I wanted wasn’t Fantasy but Poetry.
I am Iyza, this is my haiku.
Combined with my photography and the translations
into Tagalog, Chinese, and Punjabi.
This is my first ebook.

Available now!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who Needs a Writing Workshop?

     Every local newspaper lists free opportunities for self-improvement — art classes, aerobic workouts, meditation zazens, book schmooze-fests and, of course, writing workshops. Plenty to choose from.
So when a well-known writing workshop leader shot at me, “Why don’t you teach your own writing workshop?” I was dumbstruck.

     “Who needs another writing workshop?” I asked.

     Today, having taught a creative writing workshop for almost twenty years, I don’t ask anymore. I know now there’s plenty of room for self-improvement.

     But throughout all these years I haven’t stopped asking myself: What makes one come? What makes one stay? What makes a workshop a learning experience?

     Teaching the workshop afforded me a close look into myself — the reasons my work-shoppers come, it turned out, are the same reasons that made me always come:

1.Pregnant with a story.

     Bad things happen to all of us. We have to exteriorize the experiences in order to become stabilized — “Everybody has a story to tell,” the saying goes. We need to unload the burden. To unload the burden writers need to write it, unload it in writing.

     Sometimes, the burden is happiness. Recently, a story written in the workshop placed second in The Heartlight Journal’s Childhood Memories Contest. For the Author, John, it was the first publishing credit and first cash won for writing. Traditionally, we threw a party for the winner. What’s fascinating, for John, 75, the workshop exercise was a part of his reconciliation with his family — a happiness he could hardly wait to unload.

     Most of the times, alas, the burdens haven’t been happiness.
Some of my work-shoppers have shared stories of child abuse, rape, heart-attacks, homophobia and anti-Semitism.   We listen, let the writer relieve the past, offer a hug, sometimes a glass of wine. We sympathize. We identify. We suffer all.

     However, writers get a terrific break: why other people cry sharing their misfortunes, writers laugh all the way to the bank.

2. Community of writers.

     I have known a party animal or two among my writing friends, but writing is the loneliest business. Must be. Writing is expressing one’s crazy vision — can’t be done in company. On the other hand, we need the community of other crazy people to stay sane.

     Teaching the workshop made me also realize why work-shoppers stay. They stay for the same reason I have always stayed in any workshop:

3. Work-shoppers keep writing. 

     There’s no ersatz for the joy of the act of jotting words down on paper. Without writing a writer is not a writer. The highways to success are littered with wanna-Be’s.

     But distractions and discouragements are aplenty and it takes a true aficionado to never stop. Therefore most people need the sound of pen scratching the paper to keep going. A workshop provides just that.

     You forget the chores, bores, and worries, and happily go on, writing for your life.

4. Feedback.

     I mean real feedback — an ongoing, knowledgeable critique of your work in progress — not a kiss you get from your Mummy, or a dismissing shrug from an ignoramus. I teach my work-shoppers the basics of literary criticism. They learn fast. In turn, they give each other incisive, zingy, caring critiques. “Never show a fool half-completed work,” a Jewish wisdom warns.

     Finally, there is a reason that was the real reason that made me start my workshop:

5. Nurturing.

     This doesn’t mean spoon-feeding. Doesn’t mean breast-feeding. It means brain-storming, welcoming any attempt at self-expression, being non-judgmental, and offering total unconditional support to any honest try.
Warning: Most groups have an executioner, killing free expression of other work-shoppers. How do I know? I’ve been the terror of some workshops myself. Now, I make sure that my work-shoppers feel safe to say what they want to say when they want to say it.

     Who needs it? We all do.

     A good workshop is not just a workshop, it’s an opportunity for self-expression. Self-expression must be trained, nurtured. It’s great to watch people blossom, age notwithstanding.

By Tad Wojnicki
Write Like a Lover!

The article has previously appeared in:


Quote of the Week
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
                                                                                                         ~ Mark Twain


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

eBook Talk

 A Dispatch from My British Columbia Cafe Table 

     I'm listening to The Ink Spots' song, “That's When Your Heartaches Begin,” later made famous by Elvis Presley. Now it's a song by Carl Perkins, who first recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” – little-known songs by famous singers! And now, it's Bo Didley singing “Man,” a Muddy Waters hit. It's fabulous. I am playing the harmonica in-between songs. Anything to avoid writing.

     Still, being a writer is a large achievement. That means one can spell, use correct grammar, edit, plan and research, structure and categorize and teach. Being an author means one has published, even once. If one has published even once, one can publish again. That is why one must not give up. Even just thinking about writing is writing, because one exercises a faculty of the brain that has something to do with creative work.

by Ivan Marinov Tzidinov

Quote for the Week

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop."

~ Vita Sackville-West

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

eBookish Kicks by Tad


   eBook Publisher as a Roadrunner  

     Starting a publishing company yesterday, what did you need? Two things. First, a dry, brick-wall place, and second, a solid business plan. Before I forget ... you also needed a bundle of cash for the shelves, desks, phones, faxes, printers, calculators, supplies and utilities.

     So yesterday, running a publishing enterprise from home seemed smart. Otherwise, the “overhead” could choke the startup. But there was a killer-disadvantage to running a paper publishing company – the paper tended to grow in bulk.

     I recall running a literary magazine, "Kontakty" from my Berkeley, California studio. The slush pile “oozed” from my kitchen table down to the floor, then across my living room, and finally, into my bathtub. When the submissions had blanketed my bed, my sex life came to screeching halt. Bringing clients over proved risky. One look at my “dump” threatened to strip my small press of any legitimacy.

     Starting a company today, there's none of that. Proofs and galleys? Gone. Slush pile? Cleaned. All stuff is stored, proofed, and saved online. What about the bundle of cash? A bundle of cash is always welcome, of course, but there's no shelves, desks, or other office equipment to buy. We're not a brick-and-mortar publishing house. We're an epublisher.

     Writers and Lovers Studio is really a roadrunner. The company consists of Kindle e-readers “on the go” – stretching our living room to hotel rooms, cafe tables, airport lounges, and palm-thatch bars. No walls, brick-  or otherwise.