TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Karen was laid off from her job in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t until a two-week road trip to Santa Fe that she really committed to the craft that now defines her.
“I wrote a collection of poems from that trip, and then a book,” she said.
Karen “Kat” Terrey is now a published poet, a teacher of writing, and the founder of Tangled Roots Writing.
Through Tangled Roots, Karen offers business and creative writing workshops, individual coaching and manuscript review and editing.
“Everyone is original,” she said. “How do you access that originality and how do you validate it? That’s what my approach is.”
DOUBT TO MASTERS
She was doubtful at first about going to graduate school for creative writing, but chose the low residency program at Goddard College. Karen received her Master of Fine Arts in 2007.
“I always knew I had to make it my primary passion,” Karen said.
With Tangled Roots, Karen helps people open themselves up to creativity and rediscover different artistic aspects of their lives.
“It’s not just for writers,” she said. “It’s for people who were creative, and jobs and life got in the way, and they’re looking to revive their creativity. As well it’s for artists looking to expand and cross genre.”
Karen’s clients range from painters to lawyers to teachers and stay-at-home moms. Workshops are held in her quaint home in downtown Truckee where people meet to read great writing, write a lot themselves, and share the process with each other.
Priya Hunter is a regular student of Tangled Roots’ Build a Better Blog workshop and she works with Karen one-on-one coaching.
“She has motivated me to go deeper into my work,” Priya said of her manuscript. “She has a great ability to critique and she has some clever ways to think about how to tell a story.”
WHO’S YOUR MUSE?
All artists have a muse and Karen’s muse is Stoli — her adopted Queensland Heeler — who she said “curls up and hangs out” while she writes. Stoli came into Karen’s life four years ago as a foster dog, and the two have been inseparable since.
Karen spent much of this past year working on a full-length manuscript of poetry. She says she isn’t sure which will be more difficult — getting published or the act of writing the book itself. Although she teaches all kinds of writing, she considers herself foremost a poet.
“Poetry is a really good language for investigating questions and uncertainties,” she said.
Some of her award-winning poems have been published in Moonshine Ink, Sierra Nevada Review, Puerto Del Sol, Word Riot, Rhino and Edge.
“Writing poetry is a lifelong process and I look at is as a really long-term project.”
As much time as Karen spends in her garage converted writing studio, she also is sure to spend time outside.
“One responsibility of a writer is to be engaged in the world,” she said. “The world is why and how and what we write about.”
Karen’s biggest inspiration is nature for its grounding and meditative effects.
“I’m constantly reading books on writing and talking to other writers, that constant stimulation is working on me.”
Apart from blog, poetry, song lyric and general creative writing workshops, Karen also offers private coaching in business and web writing, and SAT and college application essays. The one-on-one coaching helps her clients go deeper with their writing, she said. She coaches in person as well as over the phone and through email.
SCHOOL OF LIFE
“I do a lot more than help edit their essays,” Karen said. “I help students look at material from their life. We do a lot of questioning that evolves the skill of critical thinking and then using the technique of craft.”
Karen said she works with students to truly evaluate the questions being asked and analyze any reading involved.
“We work to express each student uniquely and use language at a higher skill level and really express what makes their experience and their processing of it unique.”
Through time management, outline and organizational strategy coaching, Karen helps her young clients compose four polished essays in a period of about two and a half weeks.
“We go through the draft process so by the end they’ve written some really spectacular essays,” she said.
Karen will teach a course “Tap Into Your Imagination” on Thursday nights at Sierra College starting Sept. 5. The course meets for four weeks to discuss the craft of writing and explore the imagination through thought-provoking writing prompts.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s for people who were creative and jobs and life got in the way and they’re looking to revive their creativity.”
— Karen Terrey