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This week, a number of major stories dominating the headlines concerned the LGBT community. Qulture staffers, Antonio Garcia and myself met to ruminate over those stories. The stories include: the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Marriage Equality; GLSEN’s LGBT harassment report; and Zachary Quinto’s thoughts on the gay community and PREP (in Out Magzine’s 100 issue). As well as the HRC’s Equality Index; a lesbian couple’s wedding nightmare; and husbands, Scott and Daniel Wall-Desousa receiving retaliation from the Florida DMV for changing their drivers licenses.

Our opinions on these issues may shock you. And if they do, please leave a comment below to join the conversation.

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Writing Prompts for Fiction and Poetry

I have compiled writing prompts that I use often to generate new work and/or for writing workshops.

1. Write about an emotion without stating the emotion. Avoid stereotypical responses as well; if your character is sad, convey it in a different way than making them cry, or if they’re happy, show it besides them smiling.

2. Poetry prompt: Write on the page What I really want to say is ….then continue on with your words

3. Think about an object that is of iconic or central importance to your culture. Write that object as a spoken word piece (or fiction).

4. Write about a place you know well or a place that is foreign to you?

5. Sit in total silence for five minutes and observe the things around you. Write a story about the sense of awareness this brings you.

6. Write about an experience that occurred outside of your current state or country that changed you in some way.

7. Think of your favorite movie, book or short story – it may even be one you wrote. Now condense it to a piece of flash fiction. Start with writing only 500 words, then see if you can get it down to 100.

8. Pick up a random object in the room where you are sitting, or rummage around a junk drawer or toy chest and draw out a random object. Now write a story from the point of view of this object. What has it seen? What role did it play?

9. Let your dictionary fall open randomly and point to a word on the page. Use it to inspire a story.

10. Write a story with no dialogue.

11. Develop your own prompt and respond to it. Include your self-created prompt at the top of your paper.

12. Think back to your childhood, to the stories you remember being told. Was there a particular story you wanted to hear over and over? Try and remember that story, and choose one of the characters from it. Take that character and write an entirely different story centered around new obstacles. For example, if you choose Pippi Longstocking, write a story in which she is raising her own family, or has become the captain of her father’s ship after his retirement.

13. Sci-fi prompt: The Earth’s ice caps have melted. All but the tallest mountain ranges lie underwater. The majority of the human race (what remains) has adapted to a sub-marine environment (gills, amphibious living, etc.) Create the shape of the new world and the odd culture clashes that might occur between groups who have found different solutions.

14. What would you do if you were able to communicate with animals?

15. Design some gadget, machine, building, or other creation that might enrich the future. What does it look like? What does it do? How does it function? In what ways might it benefit people?

16. Write a short biography of your mother.

17. Describe the most difficult thing about being your age.

18. Word list prompt: Use all these words in a story (vestibule, strident, sophomoric, panacea, slaphappy, flounder, bedizen)

19. Write a story about a character who has an obsession with their appearance and this character can no longer see their appearance.

20. Hello Kitty is not a cat but a human girl, take a moment to think about how leaving certain details ambiguous could enhance or detract from a character’s impact in a story. Write a story about an ambiguous character.

21. Write from the perspective of a character that is your complete opposite. First, make a list of all the qualities you identify with yourself, and then make a list of qualities on the other end of the spectrum. For example, if you are a woman who lives in the country, write from the point of view of a man who lives in the city. Try to avoid using stereotypes to describe this character’s actions or ideas, and instead try to embody this character—climb inside his or her head and live there a while.

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Models of Pride 2014 at USC

This Saturday, USC will host Models of Pride (MOP). MOP is a free one-day conference for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth up to age 24, and their allies. The event includes: workshops, a resource fair, free food, a dance, and entertainment. For the entertainment segment, Alex Newell of “Glee” will be performing along with a number of surprise celebrity guests. There will be appearances by William Belli (of Rupaul’s Drag Race), Michael J. Willett (of Faking It), and immigration activist, Ronnie Veliz.

Also, I will be leading a creative writing workshop during the second session. In the workshop, I will be teaching participants good writing habits, how to use writing prompts to create poetry and prose, effective journaling tips, and next steps for their writing careers.

There are over 40 different workshops; with 10 writing-related workshops. After my writing workshop, I will be sitting in a zine-making workshop.

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Why You Should Attend the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium?

If the opportunity ever presents itself that I could write all day long, I would snatch it. For me, writing isn’t about having an outlet to express my thoughts, writing is an act of faith. And, after attending the 3rd Annual Literary Soul Symposium, I asked myself, why haven’t I attended more writing conferences. The Literary Soul Symposium was my first writing conference and it was a cathartic experience. I was able to meet writers, who I respect and follow their work (like Frederick Smith, Toni Newman, and Donta Morrison), and was introduced to new writers.

Booked Los Angeles Book Club (Los Angeles, CA), Brother 2 Brother Book Club, (Houston, TX), Novel-lites Book Club (Washington, DC), and The View of Dallas Book Club (Dallas, TX) hosted the Literary Soul Symposium. Each year the symposium is held in a different city and fortunately, it was held in Los Angeles this year. In The Meantime sponsored the event and provided the space, The Carl Bean House on West Adams Street.

The symposium included a keynote address by Rev. Alfreda Lanoix, mini writing workshops, a riveting speech by Daniel Black (of “A Perfect Peace”), a literary cafe, and a Q&A moderated by the Brother 2 Brother Book Club. Also, there was a mixer at Rockwell in Silver Lake, a spoken word/open mic event, and a brunch.

The highlight of the event was the mini creative writing workshop led by Frederick Smith. In the workshop, Frederick should twenty questions as prompts to generate writing. It allowed me to work on a piece that had circled around in my head. I will definitely return back to that writing exercise. Next year, the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium will be hosted by Novel-lites Book Club in DC. I will definitely be attending and you should too.

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The Importance of Professional Writing Workshops

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Sign Outside of Beyond Baroque; the Piece I Workshopped

My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. In high school, no one, not my counselor or none of my English teachers, told me that I could actually major in English or creative writing. I wrote constantly throughout middle school and high school. I discovered creative writing programs existed long after I graduated from college and wanted to enter into one. My main reason for entering a creative writing program was to enter the professional writing community. Yes, I had freelanced for various newspapers and magazines, but I did not think of myself as a professional writer.

After enrolling in the creative writing program at Otis College, I learned why professional writing workshops are important. Before the program, I edited my work and would look over drafts countless times before submitting my work to literary journals and magazines. I never understood why I did not hear back from them. After entering the program, I realized my problem (well several of them). Punctuation, lack of moving my writing into a more poetic realm, and my characters did not have a beating heart.

Now that I have completed the Writing Workshop at Otis and have created new material, I have craved sitting in a new writing workshop. I discovered the fiction workshop at Beyond Baroque and took copies of my new short story, “White Justice” there. I was worried my piece would not get read, but it was and the workshop leader echoed all the comments that my workshop leaders at Otis have told me – I have the tendency to over-describe and add unnecessary words. I’m not sure if that will ever leave me, but I know I’m going back to Beyond Baroque.

 

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The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Shaded Me, And I Liked It

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Monday mornings typically start with me rolling over and banging my bald head on my cell phone, then checking one or two emails. Last Monday morning, I received a startling email from Instagram. The subject line said, Warning. I almost peed on myself.

“Hi,

We’ve removed or disabled access to something you posted on Instagram because a third party reported that it infringes their intellectual property rights.

We strongly encourage you to review other content you’ve posted to Instagram to make sure that it isn’t in violation of our Terms of Use. Accounts that repeatedly infringe our Terms may be deactivated.”

I responded immediately, but of course, the email bounced back.

In my head, I browsed through my Instagram feed and took note of all the copyrighted images. Almost every other person that I follow has a copyrighted picture of a celebrity, a company logo, or Kermit the frog sipping tea. On my Instagram, about 99.9% of the pictures and videos that I post I have personally taken. Then, I remembered the day before I went to Janelle Monae’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I had posted pictures and video from the concert, which was amazing. I developed a new level of respect for the uniformed artist. Did Janelle report me to Instagram I thought? Then, I thought about the several hundred Janelle Monae concert videos I have watched on YouTube. Song lyrics came to me: Continue reading

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It happened. Reading at the Downtown Los Angeles Library for ALOUD

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Breaking out into a sweat, from running, into the auditorium is how my reading started. I was late for the sound check. Actually, I was the last person to arrive. I sat in my seat in the front row and listened to the first reader read the first five sentences of her piece. Then it hit, it was really happening. I was reading in the ALOUD series at the Downtown Los Angeles Central Library.

I had known about it for about five months and I pushed it to the back of mind. Work (my numerous gigs) came first. Turning in my thesis project for school was a priority as well.

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When I sat in the seat, my nerves tightened and made me question everything I had practiced for my performance. I stood when it was time for my sound check and everything came rushing out.

What follows is from later that day. Continue reading

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