NC Literary Hall of Fame




ASHEVILLE—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2015 Fall Conference will be held November 20-22 at the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore. Christine Hale will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction, "Using the Imagination in Memoir."

We selected a passage from Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel (one of Asheville's most famous texts) and removed a few words. Then we prompted Christine to fill in the resulting blanks, for what we're calling "Word Plugs: The Thomas Wolfe Edition." Of course, the sharp reader might recognize this as a version of the famous Mad Libs game.

Below is Christine Hale's contribution to "Word Plugs: The Thomas Wolfe Edition". To read the original passage, click here:

"Where is the day that smattered into one rich overbearing mother? Where the music of your traveling feet, the banjo of your teeth, the dainty languor of your suit coat, your wayward firm spleen, your slender fingers, to be satiated like an okra, and the little cherry-squirrel of your white writer's bump? And where are all the tiny ice boxes of finespun maidenhair? Quick are the ridges of earth, and quick the teeth that fed upon this fedora. You who were made for bar keeping, will sling scullery maid no more: in your dark attic closet the windstorm tearing trees out by the roots are silent. Ghost, ghost, come back from that paper cut that we did not foresee, return not into Altamont, but atop Mt. Mitchell, where we have never rattled, into the enchanted wood, where we collected stamps, strewn on the back stoop. Come up into the hills, O my young Zelda Fitzgerald: return. O lost, and by the wind-grieved Jay Gatsby, come back again."


At the NCWN 2015 Fall Conference, Christine Hale will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class, "Using the Imagination in Memoir." Although memoirists can and should struggle to tell the truth about themselves and others, good memoir relies on a good capacity for imagination. A writer must use imagination when writing memoir because the facts we think we remember are not, in fact, facts. Robert Root, writing about memory in The Nonfictionist’s Guide, says, “What is seen is determined by the eye of the beholder. Who you are determines what you pay attention to.” And I would add to that, “Who you are at a given point in time determines what you pay attention to and how you interpret it.” During our time together, I’ll provide examples of and the rationale for the role of imagination in memoir. We’ll workshop a portion of each participant's submission, attending not only to what's working well but also the places where imagination might be used to good advantage. Time permitting, we will complete writing exercises practicing the techniques we have discussed. Participants should come away from the sessions with strategies for artfully deploying imagination in their memoir projects.

Christine Hale’s prose has appeared in Hippocampus, Arts & Letters, Prime Number, Shadowgraph, and The Sun, among other literary journals. Her debut novel Basil’s Dream (Livingston Press, 2009) received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. A fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ms. Hale has been a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers and the Rona Jaffee Foundation Writers’ Award. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College, and teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program. Her new book, A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations (forthcoming from Apprentice House, April 2016) is set in the southern Appalachian Mountains, where she and her parents grew up. She lives in Asheville, where she is director of operations for Urban Dharma, a Buddhist temple and community center.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2015 Fall Conference is now open.


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