“Split”: The June 3-6 Techniques Class in Creative Nonfiction

Essayist Brenda Miller wrote her two-page essay "Split" during a 20-minute writing exercise with her Brendamiller2 graduate students. 

In an interview with Creative Nonfiction, she said that the essay came from a drill, to look at a random line from a poem written by Anne Carson and use it as a jumping off point, provided her with the symbolic and surrealistic voice used in this piece.

"It pretty much came out full-blown, then I revised the language, and added another few lines on the advice of my students,” Miller noted in the interview “Most of my short pieces are written fairly quickly, because they need to happen almost in one breath, one sitting, for the energy to carry through."

"This essay felt like a ‘gift’ to me," Miller added. "The language led me where I needed to go, and the energy of writing in class with my students—the focus and steady concentration of that process—allowed me to really commit to extending the metaphor as far as it would go. I also felt myself to be in dialogue, not only with Anne Carson's speaker in her poem, but with the other students in the room who were also writing within or against that poem's voice. So it was quite an energetic experience."

ParadegroundsKE Despite her numerous publications, Miller says that she still sometimes considers herself a struggling writer. She notes, "There's always the blank page staring you down, nipping your ego in the bud." 

In Creative Nonfiction, she notes that, instead of getting discouraged, she tells those who are having trouble writing to go back to the basics, do, writing exercises, either alone or with others. She suggests forming a strong support network of both writers and readers. She also maintains that good writers must be well read. "Have a favorite poet or two to keep you company in the mornings."

Only three spaces remain for the June 3-6 creative nonfiction workshop that she will be teaching at Centrum.

Designed for nascent, emerging, and established writers of creative nonfiction, this three-session techniques workshop will focus on generating new work. Registration is available online or by calling 360.385.3102, x131.

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