Stanley Kunitz, in an essay called “The Layers” in Next-to-Last Things, writes: “One of the great resources of the poetic imagination is its capacity to mount thought on thought, event on event, image on image, time on time, a process that I term ‘layering.’ The life of the mind is largely a buried life.” Just so, the literary products of the mind are composed through this same process of layering. Scenes, stories, and characters with depth and authenticity are rarely, if ever, created in a single burst. Like great paintings, they come to life bit by bit, as the artist approaches from different angles, bringing a different focus with each pass. In this workshop, we’ll deconstructing the opening of my novel Glorious Boy to see how the scene was built, layer by layer.
Aimee Liu is the bestselling author of the novels Glorious Boy, Flash House, Cloud Mountain, and Face, as well as thememoirs Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders and Solitaire. Her books include a Literary Guild Super Release and have been published in more than twelve languages and serialized in Good Housekeeping. She also is the editor of Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk About Writing, and Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives: Guidance and Reflections on Recovery from Eating Disorders. Her articles have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Ms., Literary Hub, The Rumpus, The Los Angeles Review of Books and other publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars and taught for more than 15 years in Goddard College’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program. More at aimeeliu.net
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of his generation, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.
I’m the only one up and still awake;
so, I decided to clean the pots and pans,
as well as disinfect the kitchen at 3:00 am.
Then I read one of my favorite scriptures,
Proverbs 14:23, “In all labor there is profit,
but idle chatter leads only to poverty.”
I was going to vacuum but didn’t want to wake my wife.
So, I thought that I would try to write
a rhyming poem, which is very difficult for me,
while it comes to my wife as easy
as taking a breath.
I need to look for the art in myself.
The most difficult writing for me
is ahead, I believe.
With a surplus of judgment,
chance has played a big role.
I will write until it takes its toll
Gary Evans, retired chiropractor; published in: Pathway to the Heart, WOK’s 2021 anthology; WOK’s 2021 NPM blog and soon 2022’s; accepted in CSUB’s 2022 Anthology, Writing Covid; zoomed open-mic events; member of Parkside Church and Writers of Kern. Gary’s been married to Shelley for 44 years; they have 3 daughters.
“True beauty is a ray
That springs from the sacred depths of the soul,
and illuminates the body, just as life
springs from the kernel of a stone and
gives color and scent to a flower.”
― Khalil Gibran, Love Letters in the Sand: The Love Poems of Khalil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher although he himself rejected the title. He is best known as the author of The Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and has since become one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into more than 100 languages.