An emotional experience slated for Edwards | VailDaily.com
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An emotional experience slated for Edwards

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
AE writers1 KA 11-13-07
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EAGLE COUNTY For the past eight weeks author Valerie Ann Leff has been teaching a writers workshop called Focus on the Process. Her 10 pupils, all women, have been furiously following Leffs prompts and instructions hoping to release the inner voice that so often gets hung up in the web of self-doubt and uncertainty.Tonight at the Bookworm in Edwards a small sisterhood of writers brought together under Leffs guidance will be reading some of their works to a public audience. The event is meant to draw support for local writers and get others who might be interested in writing to connect with the community.I would love to see more going on in this community, said Leff, who moved to Edwards in June and didnt know what the response would be to her workshop. I was surprised at how many people there are interested in writing, who are writing, who have projects theyre doing. I know there are other people. I know my group isnt the only one.Leff believes that public readings are important to both the writer and the audience.Anything that kind of gets writers together and talking to one another is great, Leff said.

Some of the participants in the workshop have already accomplished much in their craft, while others are just starting out, according to Leff, author of Better Homes and Husbands. Her style of instruction is a combination of what she has learned from other writing workshops and from her time teaching at the University of North Carolina. Leff, herself a successful author, preaches only what she practices; giving advice that has proven helpful to her own writing.Jennie Fancher, a stay-at-home mom with two small children is currently writing a novel and got involved with the workshop to help expand her skills as a wordsmith. She expected it to be hard, but said that the writing came a lot easier during her time in class. I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it is and its amazing that if you dont sit down and overanalyze and rack your brain at what to write how the words just start flowing out, said Fancher, an Avon resident.Some of Leffs techniques such as aerobic writing an exercise where she gives a topic such as murder or school and the class must write about it for five minutes without stopping is just the kind of spark that Fancher needed to branch into more creative writing. She will be reading a portion of her untitled novel at the event tonight.

Leff is very pleased with the results of her workshop, she said. All of the women who participated responded well to her guidance and she hopes to continue with sessions early next year.Ive been really pretty amazed just how much the women put into it. There was a lot of enthusiasm. The goal was really just to get together and explore writing, not to come out with any big product, Leff said.Just as important as the writing is the readings, which Eagle resident Cathy Casper eagerly awaits.I like the way she structured the course and she provides an authentic audience experience, said Casper, another workshop student. It helps to develop confidence in your voice.Public speaking is a fear that most can relate too. Add reading your own words to that anxiety and you have a recipe for disaster, which is what Leff hopes these writers can avoid by getting practice before it really matters. She also said that questions and discussion is welcome after the readings because that is also part of a writers life.I think its great for writing students to start with that right away, not to wait until you have a published book and go on tour, Leff said. You can write something and not even really know what youve written and then you can read it out loud and you might discover that what youve written is funny, it might choke you up and move you to tears. Often youll have an emotional experience of what youve written when you read it and not even really know what its about until you do that.Arts & Entertainment writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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