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Greenfire Creative
Interpretive Writing Intensive Newsletter

Welcome to Greenfire Creative's e-newsletter archive!

Here you'll find articles and essays about writing (especially interpretive writing), along with the occasional book review, information about our writing workshops, and other snippets and tidbits related to writing, editing, and creating stories that make a difference.

Greenfire Creative, LLC, is a small, woman-owned business that specializes in helping individuals, organizations, agencies, and institutions tell their stories. We do that through a variety of services, including writing and editing, training, writing coaching, and consultation.

If you're interested in learning more, sign up for the newsletter (it's free), visit our web site, call me (970-416-6353), or drop me a note via email.

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*we help you tell your story*

  • Jargon Jangle  (3/11/2016)
  • "Cairn"—such a nice, innocent word. Who knew it could cause such a ruckus?
  • Grand Finish: Why STOP is not The End  (10/13/2015)
  • I'm staring out the window of a small condo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, admiring the lilting fall colors trilling across the hillside to the west. You can't tell from here, but I'm actually looking down on the treetops of the Yampa River Botanic Park.
  • Big Words, Jargon, and Audience Understanding  (3/23/2015)
  • Is jargon a good thing? How much should we expect our audiences to understand? Should we “dumb it down”? Can we trust our audiences to be smart enough to figure out technical terms and big words? Won’t they just look up (on their ever-present smart phones) what they don’t know? Or will they ignore us and move on to something easier?
  • Surprise and the Promise of Story (and writing retreat reminder)  (1/7/2015)
    I peered into the cloudless sky: no hawk.
    I was sure it was a red-tail...
  • Sound and Smell of Memory  (12/23/2014)
  • I’m standing at the stove, glasses fogged from the steam rising off the apple cider. I move the wooden spoon in lazy circles, feeling more than seeing whole cloves, the rolls of cinnamon sticks, and bashed nutmeg bobbing and rattling in the pot.
  • Invitation to Begin  (9/25/2014)
  • What was I thinking about when I had that flash of idea while fixing breakfast? I know it had to do with how hard it is to begin, how challenging it is to find the right opening, and how important that opening is. Something about how hard it is to re-start after being on hiatus the last several months--not intentionally, but this summer has been like that, the things I thought I'd begin haven't begun, and the things I thought would be done aren't, though some are finally getting close. I think.
  • The Crux of Creativity  (4/9/2014)
  • As we emerge from the dark cold of deep winter into capricious spring, I am filled with restlessness. It's a kind of dissatisfaction, a frustration with static displays, with rote deliveries and routine lectures. It pushes me to question
  • Behind the Scenes, part 6: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/17/2014)
  • part 6 (of 6!): Diving in
  • Behind the Scenes, part 5: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/16/2014)
  • part 5: The gift of time
  • Behind the Scenes, part 4: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/14/2014)
  • part 4 (don't worry, we're almost done): Avoiding flashbacks to eighth-grade English
  • Behind the Scenes, part 3.5: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/12/2014)
  • Lessons from The call of the cowbell
  • Behind the Scenes, part 3: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/11/2014)
  • Welcome to "The call of the cowbell," part 3 of our multi-part series on Creating a Writing Workshop. (Parts 1 and 2 are also in the archive.)
  • Behind the Scenes, part 2: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/8/2014)
  • Welcome to part 2 of our multi-part series on Creating a Writing Workshop. (Part 1 is also in the archive.) Hope you enjoy today's intallment, "Terrorists, cancer, and writing for my life."
  • Behind the Scenes, part1: Creating a Writing Workshop  (1/7/2014)
  • Welcome to part 1 of my 4-part (or maybe 5- or 6-part--I haven't finished writing it yet, so I'm not sure) series about creating a writing workshop, and about what happens in a good one. Part 1: Where our plucky narrator discovers safe passage in a postcard.
  • Stay Curious: brief thoughts on nature, writing, & workshops  (12/30/2013)
  • There's a fox den in the far corner of my suburban backyard.

    Before I moved to Colorado, I'd never seen a fox outside book illustrations. What I knew of foxes came from small books borrowed from my cousins, stories filled with the crafty cleverness of Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox. I imagined that the tangled masses of...
  • Shifting out of the editing mindset (& a new writing workshop)  (11/21/2013)
  • or: The importance of making clay
  • How much does a flash flood weigh?  (9/16/2013)
  • Creativity, Calculations, & Some Possibly Disconnected Comments:

    It's been raining since Wednesday. After a brief respite on Saturday, it's raining again. That's five days out of six (and it rained on Saturday, too, just not all day and night) in an area known for sunshine (330 sunny days per year! boast our tourism and real estate brochures).
  • Trust Your Audience  (8/9/2013)
  • I had a lovely chat--an "informational interview"--with a recently-minted college grad this morning. She asked a question that makes me want to shriek and rip my hair out. It's a question I hear often--and not just from newbies.
  • Three Fast Fixes  (4/15/2013)
  • BLINK-- BLINK -- BLINK -- You stare at your monitor, suspecting that the blinking cursor is your computer thumbing its nose at you. The words squat in their double-spaced rows, daring you to change them.
  • This, Then That: Pompeii & Organizing Interp Stories  (2/20/2013)
  • If you were designing an extensive touring exhibit about the ancient city of Pompeii, whose primary claim to fame nowadays is being buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted, where would you begin?
  • The Question of Fear & Creativity  (10/30/2012)
  • Creativity is a funny thing. It's crucial to our survival--a source of inspiration, discovery, and problem-solving. It can bring us great joy, joy to those around us, and those who follow, too.
    It's also terrifying.
  • Stories Don't Vanish in the Ash  (8/6/2012)
  • The quote stopped me cold.
    "...all those stories gone, lost in the fire."
    And I thought: No, the stories aren't gone; they're never gone.
  • The Length of Communication  (6/15/2012)
  • I'm outside the Grimeton Radio Center's visitor center in Sweden, a World Heritage Site, looking at the long line of antennas that stand like Nordic giants, their feet planted in a verdant pasture sprinkled with wildflowers and dairy cows. I am contemplating the human need--not merely an urge, but a profound need--to communicate our stories to each other.
  • From Stale to Spectacular  (5/30/2012)
  • The seasons shift, and we shift: gearing up for high season, hoping for breathing space in low. But no matter the season, the work goes on. The need for what we do continues.
  • The Story's in the Details  (5/14/2012)
  • I've been cooped up in my office all day, scribbling my way through rough drafts and revisions, dodging dueling deadlines, ignoring the beautiful spring day that beckons beyond the window. Even my meetings, hours on the phone and Skype, have kept me inside.
  • Finding Space  (4/12/2012)
  • I'm having a tough time staying in my chair today. A tough time keeping pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.
  • That Number Don't Mean a Thing (if it ain't got that bling!)  (2/22/2012)
  • Data seem so innocent and pure, so straightforward. So...unbiased. And perhaps they are. Numbers without context--without story--are essentially meaningless. Five is just five. But add a label - a touch of bling - and meaning begins to emerge.
  • Bad Writing Advice  (1/19/2012)
  • I heard it again last night: a well-meaning expert exhorting would-be writers to "write what you know." This popular bromide is dispensed regularly, as if it's the cure-all for every writing ill...BAD ADVICE!
  • Hidden Stories (and how to find them)  (12/16/2011)
  • The ornament emerges from a box older than it is: a cottonball snowman adorned with...
  • Thinking INSIDE the box  (11/28/2011)
  • We've all heard it--that exhortation to "think outside the box." This metaphor-become-cliché is based on an old topographical puzzle called the nine-dots puzzle.
    I hate that puzzle.
  • Through the eyes of the audience  (11/9/2011)
  • It's between seasons. The candles in my jack o'lanterns have burned to nubs. A pile of tree debris the size of a minivan hunkers...
  • It's Bigger on the Inside  (6/30/2011)
  • 1.
    Out of memory.
    We wish to hold the sky,
    But we never will.
    (Francis Heaney)
  • A Welcome Invitation  (6/15/2011)
  • For just a moment, I was six years old and back in my grandmother's kitchen. She scowled down at me, disapproval etched in every line of her face.
  • Where You Stand Makes All the Difference  (5/25/2011)
  • Zipping along the narrow road, flat plains and farmland like sheets of rumpled paper all around me, the sun barely up, I lean, anticipating the curve...
  • Reading to Write  (3/22/2011)
  • I'm hiding out at a friend's cabin near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado this week, enjoying the quiet--and the break from my usual, more hectic routine--to work on...
  • Sounds of Spring  (3/3/2011)
  • Early morning, very cold, but not the subzero it's been recently. I shuffle, ever mindful of the ice, to where the drive meets the curve of the cul-de-sac. Still half-asleep, I uproot frozen newspapers from the asphalt, straighten up, and--
  • The (Real) Writing Life  (1/23/2011)
  • Ah, the romance of the writing life: The writer, alone in her garret, hunches over her desk, ink-stained fingers gripping the pen skritch-skritching across the page. Light from a small candle sputters around the tiny room. Outside, winter howls...
  • Nanowrimo  (11/5/2010)
  • I'm writing a novel this month.
  • Things are Tough All Over.  (9/20/2010)
  • I hear from interpreters world-wide, from sites large and small, public and private, museums and parks and nature centers, colleges and tourist outfits and independent contractors, all worried about finances. The economy. Paying for training. Finding the money to continue the good work...
  • Beginnings and Discovering the Story  (9/20/2010)
  • So I'm sitting in the "hot seat" of my playwriting workshop--the place you sit when your work is under review by your supportive but oh-so-honest fellow playwrights--and I'm really struggling. Not with the feedback per se--I'm a tough old bird when it comes to critiques--but with how to make sense of it. The comments are all over the place, and I can't figure out...
  • Vocabulary, Meaning, & Method  (8/25/2010)
  • ...When I read, part of my brain is always paying attention to how the writer is telling the story. What metaphors does the author use? What language choices? How does the structure of the story--whether it's a single paragraph on a signpost or a 90,000-word novel--help or hinder? Is the author manipulating me, and if so, how? ...
  • Things Take Time  (6/21/2010)
  • or, Remembering How to Write When You're Sure You've Forgotten How

    So I'm trying to get some writing done for a client, and I'm rushing because, you know, it's summer and I want to go outside and play, and I'm rushing because my client's on a Really Tight Budget which means I can't dilly-dally at all, not even for a second, and I'm rushing because the deadline is awful...
  • Interp Everywhere: Discovering--and Using--Interpretive Opportunities  (6/5/2010)
  • It's early April, early morning, and the world is gray. Gray buildings hulk like bison, their heavy shoulders merging into canvas and stone porticos. The steep cliff faces of the upper stories blend with gray sky. The darker gray of road stretches like an asphalt meadow, disappearing into mist...
  • How Do You Keep 'em Reading?  (3/16/2010)
  • A great headline and gorgeous graphics help draw readers in--but what keeps them reading?

    Details bring the reader more fully into the topic and experience. Details can also dictate the pace of a passage by slowing down or speeding up...
  • Objective Power: From Great Dreams to Great Realities  (4/7/2010)
  • You're pretty good at skipping rope, but what you'd really like to do is leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    Your new hall will be filled with a cool exhibition, but what you really want is for the hall to be filled with people who linger, chatting about their own experiences...
  • Why Are You Doing That? (Goals & Interp)  (2/10/2010)
  • Why are you doing that?

    Why that program or exhibit? Why that theme, that topic? Why that newsletter, slide show, walking tour, web site?

    Oftentimes, we're so immersed in our site's knowledge and stories that we automatically jump to "Hey, here's a cool idea for a great program." We have a strong internal sense of why...
  • Purpose: Motivation or Inspiration?  (1/18/2010)
  • A new year--a new decade--and I had every intention of writing an article about goals and objectives. You know the kind I mean: New Year's resolutions as applied to interpretation. A list of conditions and requirements that ensure goals and objectives are effective, with ways to prove that our work is furthering the purpose of our site, agency, or institution.

    But I find myself mulling over purpose in a broader sense, about the greater purpose behind what we do...
  • Grateful for the Balloon Boy, or The True Purpose of Interpretation  (1/18/2010)
  • I am thankful for the Balloon Boy.

    For those of you who have managed to escape this particular news story: "Balloon Boy" is the media-given moniker of a Fort Collins, Colorado youngster whose father called authorities to say his 6-year-old son was in a basket suspended from an experimental weather balloon floating over the Colorado prairie. The story broke during the October Interpretive Writing Intensive...
  • In Honor of Academia...or Not  (10/5/2009)
  • Well, we're about six weeks into the Fall semester. The cottonwood in my backyard released several bushels-worth of branchlets--leaves still green--in last Wednesday's windstorm, and I used yesterday's shivery drizzly weather as an excuse to not pick up the mess. Odd looking frameworks that will morph into floats for next Friday's...
  • Map of Discovery  (9/18/2009)
  • It was the last day of the mustn't-miss exhibit at my favorite museum. The museum's a two-hour drive, coordinating my family's schedule is worse than herding cats, and there's always that last-minute phone call just as we're about to step out the door, so by the time we got to the museum, it wasn't just the last day of the Very Important Exhibit, but the last hour...
  • Paring Down without Messing Up  (9/3/2009)
  • My first draft told the story, but it was 430 words long--twice as long as would fit on the planned exhibit.

    That was actually an improvement. My rough draft, the version no one sees, was ten pages of handwritten scribbles that kept circling the topic. It wasn't wasted effort; that writing helped me organize the information I'd gathered and figure out an effective theme: "This critter both exploits and suffers from habitats changed by people."
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2160 Ryeland Ln.
Fort Collins, CO, Colorado 80526
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