Showing posts with label Richard Argo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richard Argo. Show all posts

Monday, October 13, 2008


Winter Writing Classes Offered at John C. Campbell Folk School

Pre Register Now at 1 800 FOLK-SCH or 828 8372775 or on the web Call to register or to order a free catalog.
Ask about half off on classes and scholarships.

Dec.5, 2008 Introduction to Inspiration will be taught by Bob Grove.
Want to try writing humor? Adventure? Horror? Science Fiction?
like journalism? Get your creative juices flowing. This is a Weekend class. $270.00

Jan. 23, 2009 Write Your Story for Your Family will be taught by Glenda Beall.
Write the interesting and unique story of your life. Learn where to begin,
how to organize and how to present the most important legacy you
can leave to future generations. This class is for beginning
to Intermediate writing students. Weekend $290.00

Feb. 8, 2009 A Fun New Way to Write a Short Story will be taught by Richard Argo
under the title of “Dreaming of Short Story” Tap into a limitless supply of story ideas
by exploring the dream as the perfect short story form. Following instructor prompts,
use images found in dreams and examples from essays read in class to create your own
fictional piece. Publishing will be discussed. Short story writers, even beginners are
welcome. Week long class. Stay on campus from Sunday till Saturday morning. $512.00.

Feb. 15, 2009 Structuring Your Novel will be taught by William Reynolds. This class
will cover development of a novel by using structural methods for such things as time,
place, character development, plot development, and conflict. Gain experience from
writing special assignments. Students may also bring previously written work for critique.
All levels welcome, including beginners. Classes meet from Sunday to Friday
at noon. $460.00.

March 15, 2009 Time to Write will be taught by Ruth Zehfuss. You’ve ways wanted
to put your experiences on paper, but you haven’t had the time. This week, start
writing about your travels, career, ancestors or memories. Share ideas and get
want to write short fiction, personal essays memoir, or articles. Week long class $512.00.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Author at end of table with
his prose group.

The Value of Critique
by Richard Argo

During my school years, a few lifetimes ago, I took a program with a professor who, in discussions on the weekly papers students were required to submit, always asked if we wanted support for our efforts or critique. This professor had the reputation for reducing students’ work to compost. So I, a forty-something, unsure of my abilities and indeed my entitlement to higher education, opted for support.
The professor dispensed this support without measure. He assured me that the submitted work was of proper length, neatly typed with references correctly listed and I could expect to receive full credit.
Life was good. This college stuff was easy – at least for the first two weeks. But then I wandered if my writing was good, was I expressing myself well, and was I right in what I said.
“Ah,” the professor said with a smile when I asked the question. “Are you now asking for critique?”
I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath and said, “Yes.”
To make a semester-long story short, he reduced my work to compost – again and again and again. However, his comments were spot on. I learned and came to appreciate critique.
When I moved to the mountains and found the Netwest group, I joined. That was thirteen years ago. I don’t think I’ve missed a dozen sessions since and I would be loathe to submit a piece of work for publication that had not first passed before the critique group.
Admittedly, and this may be more information than is necessary, there are times when the group reviews my work, that bring back memories of group therapy. Especially those times when it was my turn in the barrel. But, beyond the comments and suggestions, what are far more valuable to me are the sense I get after each session that “I can do this” and the inspiration to try.
I don’t always follow every suggestion or agree with every comment, but I know that these are given by other writers who have an objective eye for what makes writing better. It is this objectivity that I rely on rather that the well-intentioned comments of non-writing friends and relatives.
Support comes from the fact that even though the group knows me to be a poor speller with a limited knowledge of writing rules, they allow me to make comments and suggestions, too. And sometimes these suggestions are good ones because it’s all about learning. When you associate with smart people, some of it is bound to rub off.
A wise person (I believe it was Nancy Simpson) once said something like: you can learn to write on your own, but it is so much faster with a group. So, if you want to improve your writing, network with and learn from other writers – get thee to a critique group. After all, good things can grow from compost.

Richard Argo lives in Murphy, NC where he writes, teaches and leads the Netwest Critique group each month on the second Thursday. He will teach at JCCFS in early 2009. Check your catalog for dates or go online.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Suspense from Richard Argo

Richard Argo is a teacher of writing and he facilitates the Netwest Prose group in Murphy, NC. He is a strong part of Netwest and has been for many years. His commitment to help other writers and support Netwest is recognized and greatly appreciated. This short story grabs you immediately and you won't stop reading until you reach the end. Richard reads at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC on Thursday evening, February 21 at 7:00 p.m.


I stand in the shadows at the rear door of the church and pull the slide back on the nine-millimeter pistol. The recoil spring strains to close the slide, but I let it ease forward slowly and watch the cartridge, the lead bullet and shiny brass casing disappear into the firing chamber. There are eight more rounds in the magazine, but it will take only one. One round will end the miserable life that has made my life miserable. Pray hard sinner because I’m sending your rotten soul to hell. I open the door and slip in.
Inside the temperature is ten degrees hotter. I can feel sweat bead on my upper lip and soak into my collar. It is near noon and sunny outside, but heavy curtains make the room early-morning gray. The musty smell says the Ladies’ Auxiliary has not cleaned in several months. The voices of the choir are plain and clear, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” Blessings will flow like blood, today – like the pure blood of Jesus. I walk forward.
I move like a cat – a large cat – each step placed softly and firmly ahead of the last, through a series of adjoined rooms. The choir has finished and the preaching has begun, an inaudible murmur punctuated by “Amen” and “praise the Lord.” I pause at the narrow steps that lead to the choir loft. Lord, still my hand and quieten my heart that I might not falter when I send that son-of-a-bitch to judgment. I ascend the first step.
It is thirteen steps to the small landing and door at the rear of the choir loft. I open the door a crack. Choir, preacher, and congregation lay in my view, even to the ushers at the heavy double-door in back. Before me is the center aisle between the altos and the basses, between the sopranos and the tenors, down between the deacons and the Minister of Music, right on down between the Jones’s and the Browns, the Smiths and the Johnsons, all the way to the back. The only person between me and freedom is the man at the podium. He stands there, broad-backed and tall, stripped of his coat. His white shirt and snowy hair make him look like a polar bear. His right arm, with Bible in hand, extended as if he will use it to beat the congregation into remission. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God-uh. No one can come to the Father except through the Son-uh.” Yeah, you showed my mother the glory of the father and now this son is going to send you to glory. I raise the pistol.
I see his head on the sights like a gourd on a spike. No body shot for me. I want to blow his righteous brains across the first three rows of the faithful. I want his life to go out like a light, no chance for confession, no chance for redemption. “The Lord says, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged-uh.’ He who call another ‘fool’ is in danger of Hell fire-uh.” I may go to Hell, fool, but you’ll be there first and stay longer. I squeeze the slack out of the trigger.
His head dances on the sights like a drop of water on a hot skillet. I open the door. Just one step closer will make it easier.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death-uh.”
Just one more step closer and I can’t miss. One more “Amen” and you are history.
“Fear not. Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the Earth-uh.”
Another step closer and the next “Amen” will be your last.
“And now, we will sing our hymn of invitation-uh, ‘Just As I Am.’”
The church is silent. He is standing not three feet from the barrel in my outstretched hand. He turns to face me. His eyes show fear – no, not fear, surprise. His eyes show surprise and a touch of sadness.
Can I get an “Amen?”

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Poets and Writers and Dreams

Some writers may not feel the need to talk and share with other writers, but the poets and writers I know absolutely love getting together to bounce ideas and information off each other. My closest friends are writers and we are so eager to share, we find ourselves interrupting each other or talking at the same time. I told Estelle Rice today that we would need an entire day for some of us to get everything said that we want to say. Estelle told me about her recent workshop on dreams. She enjoyed hearing the leader explain the spiritual psychology behind understanding our dreams. Richard Argo teaches a class on dreams at the John C. Campbell Folk School in January. It seems our dreams tell much about who we are. I need to pay more attention to my dreams, I guess.

Do you have any comments about dreams you'd like to share?