The table is set for writers at Carrot Ranch. It’s like an old-fashioned ranch BBQ where the host supplies the roast meat and the guest bring sides. The main course is flash fiction, and each writer who responds to a weekly challenge provides their own dish based on voice, genre and technical approach. Each “side” is a raw dish of sorts– a beginning, discovered nugget or condensed serving. Together we create a meal at the table.
A literary community is an environment for writers to create — to write, read and discuss. It’s a dynamic shared meal. Like in science, art thrives with diversity. The idea for a shared meal at the ranch comes from one of our writers who wrote and narrated a video explaining the importance of scientists working across disciplines. It made me think, why not apply that idea to writers? We may create our first works alone, but as described in this video, we can have a broader impact sharing our different creative approaches, genres and inspirations.
What we are exploring in this guest series called “Raw Literature” is the creative side of writing. As literary artists, our medium is words. But how do we create with words? What processes do we choose and why? Where do we go to get inspired? Different writers from the table at Carrot Ranch share their views in essays flavored as differently as each writer. This is our third review of essays from our first quarter.
Ann Edall-Robson rides to the ranch from her own Canadian frontier where she captures and conveys her region’s pioneer heritage. In “Raw From the Soul” Ann describes how she writes from the heart and why she’s inspired by her western heritage: “Now, more than ever, is the time we need to be the keeper of the old ways, traditions and stories. The raw life, regardless of the culture, needs a home. In both my writing and photography, I am passionate about recording and sharing the old days and ways.”
Kerry E. B. Black refreshes us with a water analogy that resonates with writers. In her essay, “Writing is Water,” Kerry offers sound advice: “Yet words, like water, need containers, structures designed to hold them. Otherwise, they slip away as quickly as we grasp. Thus, a good writer hones craft and sharpens skills. Through such pursuits, writers progress from journeymen to masters, but the pursuit of perfection never ends.”
Norah Colvin teaches us about the very first efforts by taking us to the classroom in “A Class of Raw Literature“. As an early childhood educator and writer of teaching materials, Norah explains: “As an early childhood educator, I was immediately excited about how the concept of “raw literature” might apply to the writings of children. Surely nothing can be more raw than those first steps into the world of writing; nothing more authentic, more real, or more valuable in their own right.”
Allison Mills dances across the page and gives us a different look at choreography of words. She’s a dancer, scientist and writer (and also the creator of the trans-disciplinary video shared earlier in this post). In her essay, “Choreography in the Rough” she describes her process: “I get too excited listening to Tchaikovsky to get much rough drafting done, but headphones and music are an important part of my writing process. No lyrics—words don’t beget words for me. I have to tap into a mental and emotional space where I feel the shape and rhythm of words as movement before my conscious mind taps them out on the keyboard.”
Enjoy this opportunity to catch up at the meal offered at Carrot Ranch. Like a chuckwagon, it follows all we do here and we continue to have plenty to eat.
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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at firstname.lastname@example.org.