Yeah, yeah, yeah, Phoenix may not be New York or San Francisco, but we've got our fair share of fun art and literature events. We'll keep you posted of these events (and more!) in our sporadically updated review "So, what's there to do in Phoenix?"

LitEvent: Changing Hands Bookstore Writing Workshops

Everybody living in the greater-Phoenix area should already be familiar with and a regular customer at Changing Hands—an independent bookstore in Tempe. Even in my status as a poor college student I’ve already filled my fun little blue frequent buyer card at the store, often instead of buying more, perhaps, important things such as food. I’ve spent hours perusing their wonderful travel lit section, sat huddled on their benches reading (and, yeah, a bit of weeping) over books of poetry, and have been inspired by readings from authors such as Natalie Goldberg and Jonathan Safran Foer. I like to think of it as a fabulous, though somewhat dangerous for my pocketbook, Mecca for all readers and writers.

Nonetheless, until only a few days ago, I hadn’t experienced everything offered by the store—mainly their writing workshops— which, in my craft, should have been one of my first stops. I’ve always been intrigued but had never quite gotten to it until I saw an advertisement for a nonfiction workshop titled “To Tell the Truth.” I’m a big fan of creative non-fiction. We could go into how creative non-fiction unifies us in our personal stories as a common people, but really, I just like talking about myself. And from what I gathered at the workshop, a lot of other people like talking about themselves too. When asked, most of the writers claimed to be working on a memoir or family history.

The workshop, hosted by the writer Lori Pfeiffer, was a wonderful introduction into the art and craft of creative nonfiction. Since it was on a Thursday evening, I was amazed to see that the room was completely filled by the beginning of the workshop and filled by people of all ages and interests. As mentioned, most of the people were working on memoirs, but there were mentions of writers working on math books or children’s nonfiction and because of this, the genre of creative non-fiction was represented in all of its varying forms. This was the major draw for me (the reason you should attend these workshops). Pfeiffer helped steer conversation and provided examples of good quality scenes and dialogue, but her more important role that night was to answer questions from all of these diverse writers in an open forum that we usually don’t have access to, save in creative writing courses or retreats. “What’s truth?...How do I write about family?...Is it okay if I say Aunt Maudine was wearing a red sweater when she was, in fact, wearing a purple one?” In answering these questions, Pfeiffer often also asked us to explore our own feelings on the subject, emphasizing the idea of a personal truth ruled by a “moral compass,” an important aspect to the very personal craft of creative non-fiction.

So, what’s there to do in Phoenix lit-wise? Lots. Check out Changing Hands events on their website. Or, as I did, sign up for their e-mail newsletter. Also, check out HFR’s posted events found on that gray box on the right side of this page (or click here for the full calendar).