Writing Dangerously with Kirsten Koza

A room filled with laughter and insightful prose – that is what Kirsten Koza brought to the WCYR Open House event in September. A travel writer and a leader of writer expeditions, Kirsten took us on our own writing journey that afternoon. We started with the simple task of writing about our journey to get to the workshop. Often, writers describe surroundings based on what we can see, so Kirsten asked us to engage our other senses and write as if we were blind, producing rich results.

Kirsten gave us another twist on our writing journeys. She passed around envelopes with character names and styles of writing. I enjoyed reimagining my simple journey to the community centre, as if it were traversed by The Terminator’s Sarah Connor. Kirsten showed us that even the most mundane parts of travelling can be exciting.

Allow the influences of things to shape you.

The other writing exercises Kirsten led us through were just as exciting and illuminating. We studied our flaws, and then a plastic bottle found in an airport parking lot. Both had us searching for the right words. They were two different kinds of head-trips.

Through these exercises, Kirsten talked about creating childhood connections and what simple things like “arriving here” can cause you to remember. When creating a piece of creative nonfiction, take the reader on the journey with you, not just the physical one, but the one in your mind.

Unleash the world brain when writing nonfiction.

Spending time with Kirsten, made me want to know more about her. A writer’s curiosity, perhaps. The titles of Kirsten’s stories can be a fun shock. One of her travel stories takes us on an adventure to Kyrgyzstan, “Mare’s Milk, Mountain Bikes, Meteors & Mammaries”. That title cannot be ignored. Following the captivating title, Kirsten evokes the feelings of stepping in warm poop, and being so cold that cuddling with the guide is the only solution. Kirsten knows how to make a reader feel like they are there with her.

Kirsten hosts an annual Vlad Dracula Expedition to Romania. What is more “Halloween” than spending it in the land of Vlad the Impaler? The trip is a seven-day dinner party through Romania celebrating Halloween and the Day of the Dead, while learning all about Dracula. This adventure takes place the week surrounding Halloween and Kirsten Koza is the perfect person to take a small group through Vlad Dracula’s life.

“Decency Be Damned” is another of Kirsten’s awesome titles and tours. This one is a writing workshop tour in Yorkshire, England. “Risky or Risqué” is a writing workshop where Kirsten talks about taking risks. Afterall, she did spend all that time in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, but it’s not just about adventures. She takes risks in writing. She creates wildly and passionately. In the workshops, whether here or abroad, she teaches writers how to open up their imaginations and engage their senses. Spending just an afternoon with her, I can see how appealing it would be to spend a week roaming the English countryside with such a seasoned writer as Kirsten Koza.

Upcoming Events:

Lessons from the Hi-Lo Market with Erin Thomas – March 8, 1:30pm to 4:30pm, Newmarket Public Library

Write Better Faster with Maaja Wentz – March 26, 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Lauft, Upper Canada Mall. Free for members only!

Annual General Meeting & Agent Q&A – April 5, 1:30pm to 4:30pm, Aurora Public Library

Querying about Queries: How to catch an agent/editor’s eye and plan for success with MJ Moores – April 23, 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Lauft, Upper Canada Mall


Written by

When Loni isn't reading other people's words or running around after her two young children, she spends time writing stories of her own. She finds inspiration in the little things, but also in momentous events. Loni currently resides in York Region. Twitter: @LoniStorm Instagram: loni_storm Facebook: @LoniCameronWriter

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