Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Author finds passion in prose

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Christi Krug, Vancouver author and writing coach

o What: Wildfire Wednesday Reading Series hosted by Christi Krug. Featuring selections from "The Night, and the Rain, and the River."

o When: 7 to 9 p.m. May 28.

o Where: Cascade Park Community Library, 600 N.E. 136th Ave., Vancouver.

o Cost: Free.

o Web: christikrug.com/classes2014

o What: Wildfire Wednesday Reading Series hosted by Christi Krug. Featuring selections from “The Night, and the Rain, and the River.”

o When: 7 to 9 p.m. May 28.

o Where: Cascade Park Community Library, 600 N.E. 136th Ave., Vancouver.

o Cost: Free.

o Web: christikrug.com/classes2014

For Christi Krug, writing is about finding freedom.

The freedom to fail. The freedom to explore new ideas. And the freedom to ignite a fire of passion within. All it takes is a spark to embark on a path of unbridled creativity.

The Vancouver author and writing coach embraced the artistic spirit she preaches in her classes when revisiting a story she wrote five years ago that is now included in the fiction anthology, “The Night, and The Rain, and The River,” from Portland publisher Forest Avenue Press.

In “The World, the Flesh, and The Devil,” Krug writes of a classroom chat between a private school teacher who has wrestled with her faith and a devout Christian father who is unwavering in his belief that Santa Claus is a false idol. The teacher’s inner dialogue draws readers into the mind of a complex woman who buries her feelings — “Rebellious, lustful, confused, alone.” — in order to keep up appearances.

“There was a drop of moisture on Mr. Mayhew’s pale bottom lip, just above his perfect chin,” the narrator says. “For a moment I felt the dread of sitting in church, convinced the preacher could read my mind. I tugged down my skimpy pink angora sweater.

“For sure, this man saw me as a lost, worldly woman. He saw me as clueless. How could I explain this wasn’t the whole picture? All my life, I’d followed the rules.”

The foundation for the story was built years ago, stemming in part from Krug’s own life, but it took time for her to see it as complete. The piece, one of nearly 60 she’s had published in her many years of writing, revolves around themes Krug hadn’t yet fully explored in her writing. After refreshing the story, she felt it was time to share it with the world.

Publisher Laura Stanfill, whom Krug befriended in a writing group a decade ago, felt the same way and included it in her new anthology.

“This was a different theme to me, it was something I wanted to explore. It had a lot of significance to me,” Krug said. “The theme of not belonging to a community and feeling pushed out and feeling displacement. It just felt like I wanted to go back and revise it.”

“The Night, and the Rain, and The River” also includes short stories by 21 other authors. Forest Avenue Press was one of two small publishers to be awarded a 2014 Oregon Literary Fellowship, which helped fund the book.

The power of fiction, Krug teaches in her “Wildfire Writing” classes at Clark College and her “Burn Wild” workshops in Portland, is realized when writers find a strong kernel to build upon, an anchor of passion. She was happy to have found that for herself when perfecting the tale of the teacher with one foot in her past and another in her future.

“It’s how to get that narrative, it’s how to make it come alive,” she said. “That kernel, that experience, you own that and that’s going to give it a lot of power.”


Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.