Good Naked: Writer Joni B. Cole at Still North Books and Bar
Joni B. Cole wants you to be happy. While writing.
The author and writing teacher is offering a free one-night writing workshop at Still North Books and Bar in Hanover on Thursday, September 1 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. It’s open to the public and to all who have an interest in writing. No experience is required, and Cole welcomes you to “leave all self-doubt at the door.” This promises to be an interactive experience “. . . where everyone writes from a prompt, shares aloud, and feels a whole lot happier than if they'd stayed home on the couch.”
The workshop coincides with the release of the new and expanded edition of Cole’s book, Good Naked, originally published in 2017. The University of New Mexico Press is publishing the revamped version of Good Naked; a new work by Cole, We'll Never Have Guatemala and other essays is forthcoming in the fall of 2023.
About the Book
Once again, Cole‘s humor and wisdom shine through as she debunks long-held misconceptions of how we’re supposed to write, replacing them with advice that works. Feeling overwhelmed? Having trouble getting started or staying motivated? In this edition, Cole offers more stories, strategies, tips on craft, and exercises to serve new and seasoned writers from the first draft to the final edit. Writers will even find help making peace with rejection. —from Still North Books and Bar website
In my conversation with Joni over not-too-fancy brews at Lucky’s Coffee Garage, it became clear that she is passionate about rethinking the creative process many writers go through, a process that is more painful than it needs to be. She sees writers— both established and would-be—as having absorbed rules and structures around the act of writing that hobble their productivity and add unacceptable levels of misery to the experience.
In Good Naked, for example, she trounces the view that one has to start a story at the beginning, or even have a beginning, a task so fraught that it causes writers to abandon projects altogether rather than have to face a stubbornly blank page. To Lynne, who confessed in a workshop that she was carrying around a “Great Idea” for a story for a long time because she didn’t know where her narrative should start, Cole offered this advice: “So forget about the first scene. Write any scene you feel fairly certain belongs somewhere in the story.” Lynne did, the Great Idea lived, and the story, including the heretofore elusive beginning, made its way to the page.
It’s a smashing title, but why “Good Naked?” Joni wants to address the vulnerability of writers and to honor the whole of the creative process. That includes the not-dressed-up first (and second, and third) drafts, the messy sentences, the ungroomed paragraphs. Not only is there no shame, there is real beauty even (or especially) in the ungirt early efforts that contribute to a final, more polished product.
Joni B. Cole teaches writing in workshops throughout the Upper Valley and beyond. Other prompt-style sessions will take place soon at the Norwich Historical Society and the Enfield Public Library. For more information about the Still North event, click here. To learn more about the author and upcoming events, click here to access her website.
(Photo, top, courtesy of Joni B. Cole. Photo, bottom, by Susan B. Apel)
Welcome! You’re reading Artful, a blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley, and I hope you’ll subscribe and then share this with your friends and on your social media. And in case you are wondering . . .
Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.