• Melissa Westemeier

UntitledTown wrapped, new book unwrapped

Last Friday I trekked to UntitledTown 2018 with a posse of high school kids to hear R.L. Stine tell stories about being a rock star horror writer. Before joining the throngs to swoon over the Goosebumps dude, we sat in the front row at a workshop and took notes while Joyce Burns Zeiss and Patricia Skalka talked about writing.  I returned to Green Bay's amazing book and writing festival Saturday and Sunday, binging on the conversations and camaraderie this sort of event creates. I presented a workshop on injecting humor in writing and participated in a panel discussion about writing Wisconsin as a character in fiction (doesn't that sound all literary and brainy?). The panel discussion was interesting. I struggled to say intelligent things because I got so wrapped up in what the other people were saying. I felt humbled to sit at the smart kid table.



Me, trying to come up with clever things to say while sitting next to Christi Clancy who is effortlessly elegant and clever. Photo credit to Amanda Jo Danihel and Dan Moore, UWGB Marketing and University Communication

The best session I attended was on writing flash nonfiction. I didn't even know what flash nonfiction was, but for a while I've been chewing on an idea I'd like to write about and submit to This Wisconsin Life. The workshop I attended gave examples and walked us through the process of writing what is essentially a really tightly focused memoir essay. I left with a rough draft and an idea of how to replace the dreadfully tired personal narrative assignment I use with my seniors. The latter was an unexpected win. I feel grateful to have an idea with better structure and a way to craft my description of an idea into a more palatable story. My sister attended the workshop with me, and while she's not a writer, she found the experience worthwhile and interesting, too.  My students enjoyed the weekend, one read some of her work at an open mic event and discovered a couple of equally talented writers to network with. It made me happy to see her approach these other two high school kids tentatively and within minutes chatter away enthusiastically about their shared passion: writing fantasy fiction. And I convinced Mr. B to tag along to the final event of the weekend: an evening with the hilarious and bizarre Christopher Moore. He claims it was "pretty good," high praise coming from a kid who isn't terribly keen on reading. My brain and heart were equally full when I returned home Sunday night to finish the regular routine of laundry-grocery shopping-etc. Without missing a beat the week got full of a visit from my dad, two track meets, trying to teach 2 cats to use their new cat door to the basement, convincing Rose to stop peeing on the hamper of dirty clothes in the laundry room, enduring an afternoon in-service, grading a stack of AP arguments about Buy Nothing Day, locking down a caterer for the senior class picnic, evaluating the progress of my English 12 students' Genius Hour projects, and getting a huge step closer to launching this:




It'll be for sale soon, hold tight!

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