WORKSHOPS

1. DISCERNMENT 101
YOUR WRITING AND YOUR LIFE:
DISCOVERING YOUR CORE THEMES, SYMBOLS, AND
YOUR STRONGEST WRITING PATHS

A series of written exercises in a day of silence.
The written exercises are like guided meditations, journeys which connect exterior images with our interior images. These connections lead us to the anchors of our lives, they help us find our base and our safety, that place in us in which we are certain of ourselves and where we are fearless. That’s where our strongest writing comes from.

• Identifying core values
• What’s sacred for you?
• What themes matter to you?
• What images or types of structures resonate with you?
• Identifying paths for your writing

Through a series of writing exercises, participants discover their most important symbols and images, those symbols and images which create their greatest stories. This workshop is like a personal archaeological dig, or a dig for buried treasure; it helps participants unearth the elements which run through the experiences of their individual lives.

This workshop is not about recalling childhood memories. It is about the ultimate design of our lives, the underpinning sequences, patterns, tones, and strokes which have built who we are and which lead us to our strongest writing.
It is, in fact, what we truly know, internally.

Participants write privately through a series of guided explorations. That writing is never shared. Privacy is key so that each person feels totally safe and free to write whatever emerges. The leader speaks before each writing period as a warm-up for the next writing exercise. In this workshop, there is mostly guided writing in silence. Participants write for an hour at a time in response to a guiding voice, then a short talk takes place, which leads into the next writing session.

Lunch is provided and is considered part of the workshop. There is silence over the hour long lunch break. Essentially, this workshop is a one-day guided retreat to discover significant personal themes, core values, what’s sacred for you, and how you might identify the strongest paths for your writing. This class will benefit writers at all stages of their development. It is essential that each participant have lots of space so that privacy is assured.

2. COMEDY
FUNNY BONES: THE COMEDY WITHIN US

“Funny Bones: Writing Comedy From the Heart”

It helps to be able to think crooked. Comedy is part of life as well as being part of good literature. In the comedy workshop we’ll spend the day exploring what gives us comic relief from the serious business of life. Hopefully at the end of the day everybody will be smiling. If everybody winds up with a headache, we’re in trouble.

Now, all would-be stand-up comedians please sit down. This workshop is not training for Yuk Yuk’s. No jokes. No stand up. No puns. Well, not on purpose anyway.

This workshop is about finding our own comic voice, the one that gets us through tough times. We look at the day to day possibilities for humour. It’s practice at weaving comedy into our thinking, into our writing, into our conversations with our banker and our in-laws.

This workshop is really work. No lounging around drinking scotch and trying to be funny. We’ll ask bold questions, explore the things that make us laugh, search our stories for hidden humourous elements, and experiment with incorporating humour into our writing. Everyday occurrences like grocery shopping become grist for the comedy mill. We’ll write hilarious rants, prayers, incantations, directions, calendars, threatening letters.

There will be comic information hand-outs, lists of things in point form like:
• The rule of three
• “Chicken” and other naturally funny words
• Comic Timing
• How to think crooked
• Ice cream with sprinkles

Timing is everything, and it’s about time for a comedy workshop.

One day
Minimum participants 10, maximum 20
Workshop Leader: Donna Caruso

3. READING AND WRITING: EXPLORING DIFFERENT GENRES
A one day workshop where I read one of my pieces and then the workshop participants write a piece of their own in the same genre— high intensity but lots of fun! This workshop generates a lot of new work for the participants, and includes information about each genre, and about writing in general.

Includes: of rants, radio plays, memoir pieces, and short short stories.

One day
Minimum participants 8, maximum 16
Workshop Leader: Donna Caruso

4. THE CLOTHESLINE: STORIES IN OUR POCKETS
The Clothesline is the metaphor used to uncover and share stories that are so much a part of us we may not have thought about them for years. We have worn clothing throughout our lives, and we’ve shared clothing, seen clothing, dealt with clothing in many ways. Clothing has been a vital part of everybody’s life, not necessarily as a fashion statement or personal statement, but as a constant presence in our daily life.

Lots of discussion, storytelling, listening, writing, all clothing-based.

One day, bring your laundry
Minimum participants 8, maximum 16
Workshop Leader: Donna Caruso

5. HOMES SWEET HOMES:
MESSAGES FROM TIME AND SPACE
Where do we live? The places we have actually inhabited are in our minds even if they no longer can be found anywhere else on the planet. What did we learn from them about life? How can we use the places, buildings, climates, which have been our homes, to enrich our stories?

Discussion, storytelling, influence of images on character and setting.

One day
Minimum participants 8, maximum 16.
Workshop Leader: Donna Caruso

4. TROUBLESHOOTING
Fixing a problem piece. Analysis and revamping.
Each workshop participant has one piece of their writing which we analyze as a group and work on, discussing character arcs, plot points and development, tone, image, and timing.

One day
Minimum participants 4, maximum 8.

5. RURAL WRITING FOCUS
Writers in rural Saskatchewan, on farms, in small towns and villages, have daily experiences which differ from the vast majority of the world. We shop through catalogues, the bus delivers a lot of our goods, the post office is a prime point of visiting,

6. GOOD-BYE LETTERS: WRITING AS GENTLE THERAPY
Writing offers many benefits, healing is one of them. Far too much emphasis is put on publication as the end point of our writing, and far too little on the healing power writing affords the writer. This workshop works on a personal level in an effort to connect participants with their own inner story.

7. COOKING AND WRITING, FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The Kitchen in our lives is personal, familial, communal, historical. What we ate in our youth not only fed our childhood bodies, but our spirits, and our stories. And as we grew our lives grew and changed, and so did our kitchens. In this workshop we cook, we remember, we eat, we remember. Images, smells and sounds trigger memories which we explore for stories and significance.

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