Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Cheryl Klein

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Cheryl Klein

I often refer the two-and-a-half years I spent in Terry’s One Page at a Time workshop as my “second MFA” (which happened to be WAY less expensive than my actual MFA). With Terry’s guidance–always encouraging, and pragmatic but never afraid of experimentation–I finally learned how to revise my work and structure a novel. I also met a community of writers who remain my friends and readers more than a decade later. I have such fond memories of the bright orange walls, oatmeal cookies and friendly check-ins that made Tuesday nights my favorites.



15th Anniversary Spotlight — Cheryl Klein

Each day for the 15 days leading up to the WAW Open House (October 7, 2012, 2-5 p.m.), we’re going to feature a current or former participant who’s completed a major project (book, film, album, academic credential). We’ll find out what they learned that helped them with their work.

Cheryl Klein, One Page At a Time
Project: Lilac Mines, a novel from Manic D Press

At Writers at Work, I finally learned how to revise (a skill I made it through my whole MFA program without acquiring). Now I start a second–or third–draft with a blank page and paste in a few good parts rather than trying to sift through the tangles of my first draft. I rip things out, remove training wheels and put my characters in deeper jeopardy. Rewriting means letting oneself get tossed by the current, and I’m grateful to WAW for showing me it’s survivable.




WAW Recommends: The Age of Dreaming by Nina Revoyr

The Age of Dreaming by Nina Revoyr
Recommended by Cheryl Klein

cover_ageofdreamingOver the course of three novels, Nina Revoyr has chronicled girl basketball players, civil unrest in Watts, and now the silent film era: The Age of Dreaming is the story of Jun Nakayama, a Japanese American star of the silents who—when a new part comes his way for the first time in decades—is forced to reflect on the abrupt end of his career. The reasons are as scandalous as an unsolved murder and as subtle as the growing anti-Japanese sentiments he tried to brush off.

The through-line that draws me to Revoyr’s work again and again—besides her insider’s renderings of Los Angeles—is her depiction of characters who are reluctantly shaken out of their passivity. It’s easy enough to write about characters who are brave or even tragic, but it takes serious skill to write about polite, reserved people whose very nature defies the nature of plot.

Over the course of the novel, which flashes between the ’20s and the ’60s, Jun realizes that society doesn’t reward patience and compliance the way he’d hoped, but that he has more control of his own fate than he once thought.

Revoyr’s prose in this novel are like Jun himself: simple but elegant, contemplative and—at first glance—almost dry. But this is all part of a carefully layered character portrait, and the thoroughly juicy mystery at the novel’s center, coupled with descriptions of Hollywood in its giddy adolescence, keep the pages turning.

You can buy The Age of Dreaming of Skylight Books