Craft Talk Rewind: Patti See’s “Writing Where You Live: Making the Most of What You Have”

Patti See

Patti See

By B.J. Hollars

Couldn’t make it out to Patti See’s fantastic craft talk?  Not too worry!  We’re here to offer you a few of the highlights.

Patti’s craft talk covered the idea of writing about place, which for her, means writing about Lake Hallie, Wisconsin. Though as a Chippewa Falls native, Patti’s personal story starts there.  She began her talk by describing her childhood spent in the family tavern. “Kids drank orange crush and played games,” she recalled, adding also that the tavern was the site where more than a few stories were swapped and spun.  This upbringing, coupled with her mother’s letter writing and her father’s storytelling prowess, created the conditions for her own future as a writer. 

Patti began her writing career by composing thinly veiled fictional stories, though in the midst of her mother’s prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s, she found herself blogging about her caregiving experience—an experience that resonated with readers throughout the world.

While all genres and subjects can prove difficult for a writer, writing about where one lives is particularly challenging, Patti explained, “because it means those who live near you may read what you write.”  And so, Patti knows to negotiate these relationships carefully, often making people aware of their potential appearance in a story.  

In a small town like Lake Hallie, she explained, word often travels as fast as the “bark patrol” from 101 Dalmatians; as such, it’s best if folks know who the writer is.  And as Patti has proved, she always has her pen at the ready.

Click here to listen to Patti read her work on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life.”

Fast Forward: Nickolas Butler’s “Brass Tacks & Before Cirenaica”

Nickolas Butler

Nickolas Butler

Next up on our craft talk series is the great Nickolas Butler!  Mark those calendars for April 28 at 7:00p.m. in The Local Store Gallery, where you’ll hear Nick provide an insightful and candid discussion on the everyday work of being a writer.  (As I’m sure we’ll all learn, it ain’t as easy as Nick makes it look.)  In addition, Nick will also get folks fired up for his summer writing residency this summer at Cirenaica.  A few spots still remain!  Check out the details on Nick’s residency here, and more on all our residencies here.    

And while we have you, might we just take a moment to brag a bit about one of Eau Claire’s favorite sons?  You know him best for Shotgun Lovesongs and Beneath the Bonfires, but do you know just how much hardware the guy’s won for his efforts?  From France's prestigious PAGE Prix America award, to the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, Nick’s accolades have come from the world over.  And to whet your pallet for what’s coming next, stay tuned for a forthcoming featured spotlight with Nick Butler coming your way this summer!