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Former NPR Reporters Hold Writer's Workshop In Flagstaff

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Former NPR reporters Jacki Lyden and Eric Weiner are touring the country teaching writing workshops. Next month they come to Flagstaff’s Colton House where they’ll help writers find their voice…create better dialog and polish their storytelling skills.

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KNAU’s Steve Shadley spoke with both journalists about tips they want to share with aspiring writers.

Shadley: “Hello to both of you…”

Lyden: “So nice to talk to you…”

Weiner: “Good morning, Steve…”

Shadley: “This is a group of writers that are going to get together and you’re going to talk about the process of writing. And, everybody, I’m assuming is going to be at different levels…so how do you approach that as mentors?”

Weiner: “Everyone starts with that fear of the blank page. What do I write about? What if its total garbage? What do I do? So, its’…unlike some other fields of life…writing is sort of like everyone’s a beginner each time they start.”

Lyden: “And, one of the places where I think journalism informs the page…the journalism that of course both of us have had a background in doing is that sense of permission. That the sentences have to bare the weight of what you want to say. So, I want that sense of confidence and permission inhabiting your story to be something that we impart to the people who are coming to work with us…”

Shadley: “When you look back at some of your past work, you’ve both written books, you’ve written news reports, you’ve written essays…do you look back and read some of your writing and think wow…what was I thinking? Why did I come up with that idea? Or, do you think wow I wish like I could write like that again?”

Weiner: “Well, I think one of the great joys of being a writer is having some distance from your writing. And, when I pick up something I’ve written years ago, I will sometimes forget that I wrote it and read it like a reader and think wow, that’s pretty good. I wrote that. And, occasionally I will cringe and think that I should have edited that out or would have chosen a different word here or there. But, more often that not, I read it and think huh…this guy’s pretty good. Oh, this guy is me. So, the problem with being in the process and writing and editing, revising a piece of work is you’re too close to it, you know. If you join us, you’d have a chance to get to the next stage and write something that you can look back on a few weeks, months or years from now and say wow, that holds up. That’s pretty good.”

Shadley:  "That was former NPR reporters Eric Weiner and Jacki Lyden talking about their writing workshops. They’ll be in Flagstaff in October. You can find more information online at colton house writers retreat.com"