Celebrate the written word at the Compose Creative Writing Conference

Apr 11, 2024, 10:02 AM by CCC Staff

Casey Parks

OREGON CITY - Writers and aspiring writers across the region gather each May at Clackamas Community College for a day of creativity and community. This year's Compose Creative Writing Conference is May 18 and the keynote speaker is award-winning journalist Casey Parks.

Parks' debut book, "Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery," is the story of her life-changing journey to unravel the mystery of Roy Hudgins. When Parks came out as a lesbian in college in 2002, she faced rejection from her family and pastor and assumed her life in the South was over. But Parks' grandmother, a stern conservative who grew up picking cotton, pulled her aside and revealed a startling secret: "I grew up across the street from a woman who lived as a man," and implored Parks to find out what happened to him.

For 10 years, Parks traveled to her grandmother's hometown in rural Louisiana, knocking on strangers' doors, digging through nursing home records and studying microfiche in small-town libraries trying to uncover the mysteries of Roy Hudgins' life.

After the welcome address from Parks at 10 a.m., conference attendees can participate in workshops with sessions on various writing topics, from cozy mysteries to graphic novels and speculative fiction.

Sessions this year include:

Creating Compelling Characters for the Stage — Sara Jean Accuardi

At the heart of every interesting play is an interesting character — but what makes a character interesting? Accuardi will guide participants through the process of forming a character and discovering their voice.

Helling It Slant — Eric Tran

In this generative workshop, writers will read, discuss and write poetry based on misheard bits of gossip, English as a Second Language, double entendres and other methods of transforming and transgressing language.

Making the Invisible Visible — Lauren Kessler

Buried backstories, the wounds no one sees, the hidden worlds — as writers in all genres, this rich territory should be explored. Join this workshop, both generative and instructive, to jumpstart work.

Pitching Your Graphic Novel, Selling Your Story — Terry Blas

Blas will guide participants through the process of creating a pitch for a graphic novel idea and share how knowing what a story is really about will help the idea be understood and make a pitch more powerful.

Avoiding Infodump in Speculative Fiction — Joe Pitkin

Infodump is a major occupational hazard in fiction — especially for fantasy and science fiction writers. Pitkin will share tips dealing with this challenge — including examples from his most recent novel, "Exit Black."

Crafting a Cozy Mystery — Paula Charles

In this workshop, Charles will guide participants through creating characters and settings, as well as choosing a weapon and victim. Expect idea sparks and some writing time.

Writing the Magical, Writing the Real: On Making Magical Stories Believable — Emme Lund

For thousands of years, humans have told stories about magical creatures and occurrences existing among the mundane. In this workshop, participants will discuss techniques for seeing the magic in the world, as well as the craft elements that make magical stories more believable.

Writing: Aggregating the Raw Material— Emmett Wheatfall

To write skillfully, writers must have the essentials necessary to write. For the writer, raw material can come in the form of diction, dictum, metaphor, analogy, etc. Aggregating such raw material will contribute when drafting a written composition. This workshop is an opportunity for group learning.

The Things Themselves— Daniela Molnar

This workshop will focus attention on the world of the senses and how poems can sharpen and heighten sensorium, offering a shared subjectivity beyond one's perceptual confines, a way to, together, engage with a larger aliveness. Participants will use poems as a lens to consider the ways the current cultural moment is an invitation to widen wonder.

How Description Builds Story— Lydia Kiesling

In this workshop, participants will look at examples of atmospheric, descriptive writing and identify the ways that description can be a propulsive force in a story, carrying many messages about the text. This talk will show how word choices can drive the plot in a work of fiction far more than the simple mechanics.

This year, the Compose conference will be held in a hybrid format, with some workshops in person and some online. Parks' keynote will be in person and streamed live for those participating via Zoom. Clackamas Community College is located at 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City. Parking is free. Tickets are $25 for the general public and $10 for CCC students.

To learn more and register for the conference, visit CCC's Compose webpage.

Lori Hall

Media contact

Lori Hall

Public Information Officer