Former Austin resident to teach writing workshop

Published 6:36 am Friday, January 22, 2010

Just pack a pen for a quick road trip to Northfield this weekend.

There is still room left in writing workshops offered Sunday by writer Brad Zellar, originally of Austin, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Allison McGhee.

“All experience levels are welcome,” McGhee said. “We encourage anyone who is interested to come.”

One workshop, “Writing from Photographs: Inside and Outside the Frame” is taught by Zellar on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Students should bring in three photos, and through a series of guided writing exercises, discussion, and analysis, students should come away with insights and techniques for character development, scene setting and storytelling, McGhee said.

“It’s really a fascinating way to approach looking at a photo,” she said.

The instructor, Zellar, now lives in the Twin Cities. The former Austin resident is a writer, editor, photographer, and former bookstore owner who has published his journalism, fiction and photography in a variety of newspapers, magazines, journals and anthologies.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and the author of “Suburban World: The Norling Photos,” which the Coen brothers used as a reference for the recent film “A Serious Man.”

The second workshop is taught by McGhee during the same time slot, Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. This course is called “The Art of Writing Picture Books.”

“We’ll look at how to find the words to go along with illustrations,” McGhee said. “Through a variety of in-class writing exercises, discussions and lectures, students should come away with an understanding of questions and challenges of picture book writing, she said.

She will also explain the process of having a picture book published during the workshop.

McGhee is the recipient of many awards and she writes novels, picture books and poems. Her picture book, “Only a Witch Can Fly,” was named one of the “Best Ten Illustrated Books of 2009” by the New York Times.

Each workshop costs $50 — which covers all supplies.

They will be held in the Northfield Arts Guild, 304 S. Division St., in Northfield. Classes are limited to 20 students.

E-mail alison_mcghee@hotmail.com or call 612.823.1246 to register in advance.