"The only hope for a writer, really, is that some locked door can be finagled open with a small question."
2015 Workshop Starting January 19th! Enroll Now!
19th-April 6th, 12-week course, Monday 4:30-6:00
Hein and Co Bookstore, 204 North Main St.,
Jackson, CA, 95642
fee includes print-outs, personal feedback on every piece, a direct
breakdown every time you present about how to urge your writing onto the
next level. This is the meat of the course: you get me intensely honest
and totally there with compassion. I will see your final piece through
to your satisfaction. Also, an optional public reading is organized at
the conclusion of each workshop).
writing environment is safe, rigorous, and guaranteed to help you get
stories out that will quickly surprise you in their depth and attention
to craft. Writing exercises and light reading assignments are aimed at
developing the writer's understanding of structure, narrative, and
style. Your eye and ear will be honed by keen workshop critique and by
exercises designed to help you locate personal material. Careful
attention is also paid to toning your writing-routine muscles in order
to build a long-term commitment to creative health.
you want to write personal essays, travel pieces, memoir, or literary
journalism, the goal is complete one nonfiction piece or a chapter of a
the conclusion of the workshop, we offer a reading to the public. I will
help you refine your chosen work. The reading is optional, but highly
encouraged. It is a terrific experience to "graduate" your private
works to the public. You leave the workshop a writer that has shared
your work with the world.... in other words, a professional.
"The role of the writer is not to say what all can say,but what we are unable to say."
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. That land mine is me."
Here's a breakdown of how the workshop functions... don't worry, this will all be explained in class...
What to bring to class:
1: Questions… about the Nuts & Bolts and about anything that
applies to where you’re at with writing. Besides that, a writing
utensil would be stellar, if not a bit obvious. A notebook would be
good for any sudden ideas. A folder to keep your handouts, drafts, and
other writer’s work. A calendar would be useful for marking any changes
we make in writing presentation days and also can be used for your
weekly writing schedule. If you’re so inclined to bring treats or
beverages, they will never be poorly received by any writer I’ve known….
When you will share your writing:
are 12 classes and we will workshop 2 student pieces a week. That
means that you will get to share your work approximately 3 times within
our 12 weeks (some of these will be rewrites). I will pass out a
signup sheet where you can fill your name on the dates you choose as a
guide. The last workshop will be a public reading at the St. George
Hotel where you can invite family and friends to hear your final piece.
How to distribute your work:
For Weekly Writing Exercises: Time permitting, students may share their weekly writing assignments. But these assignments are for you personally, privately.
several reasons, we will not be reading our longer works aloud in class
(Weekly class exercises may be read). In my opinion, reading pieces is a waste of
precious workshop time. Nonfiction, in general, is not conceived as an
oral art form. Also, reading—or performing—one’s work can make some
writers very nervous (me especially). Therefore, we will read 2-3
pieces at home every week and workshop—or discuss—the writer’s
work together. You can either bring copies of your work to class and
distribute them the week before, or you can email the piece to the
workshop participants. If you choose to email, you must send your
work no later than the Friday after class so you give all of us enough
time to read and comment on your work. If you have any difficulties with life or writing, please call or email me. We can always figure something out!
How to offer feedback:
“The great Murderer of the Imagination—a world of unceasing, unkind, dinky, prissy, criticalness!”—Brenda Ueland
all come here tender and sensitive about our writing. And so, the most
essential and sacred part of the workshop is establishing a trusting,
safe, and professional environment for exploring our craft. We need to
feel free to write from our guts, to record what often can be too
uncomfortable for us to speak. So, while we are all going to be
critics, we must never present our feedback as critical. By
this, I mean that we should not judge the content—even if it offends—but
rather stay rigorously focused on offering support and suggestions on a
writer’s style. Writing is a scary thing sometimes, naked, inviting a
million critical voices from our pasts. We have assembled here to
dispel those voices, roll up our sleeves, and get a few words down that
make us feel closer to capturing the stories of this life...
first experience of another writer’s work here will be at home. I ask
that you mark up their draft with reactions and, at the end, write a commentary (which you can email or give to them).
This will help them later with their rewrite and also remind you about
what comments you’d like to make during the workshop when we go page by
page through their draft. Remember that writers also very much need to
know what works, not just what could be improved. A star or an
exclamation point in the margin next to a successful sentence can do
wonders to pointing a writer to do more of the same in the future. Feel
free to mark spelling or punctuation on these drafts, but we will not
discuss the annoyances of spelling during the workshops (Shakespeare
couldn’t spell, copy editors are paid to do this, spell-check exists for
a reason, and nitpicking can really squash a creative soul!)
Punctuation is sometimes addressed but only as it relates to style.
Keep in mind that a writer often needs to know most of all when you
focused or felt something and when you left the page…
I urge you to, 1) Offer what works about the piece and, 2) What can be improved. It's that's
What to expect of Assignments:
There is one daily and three weekly tasks:
1) Daily morning pages: From The Artist's Way, 10 minutes of totally unedited writing free flow. Don't reread.
Artist’s Date: Restock your pond by taking yourself on a date designed
to prod, inspire, loosen, transport. What did you want to be when you
grew up...list five vocations and think of an activity that could go
with each. Start there.
3) Weekly reading
4) Weekly writing exercise
Your weekly reading assignment will come from one of the books that you ordered.
I may also bring you reading assignments from other sources. I also
will offer you writing exercises that can be very useful. However, if
you’re burning to write a particular story, you are free to workshop
that material. Still, you might consider using some of your workshop
time to present some of your writing assignments—they can sometimes pull
you outside of the writing boxes we all struggle to escape because the
stakes seems to be lower with exercises.
But whether the writing requirement sounds too big or too small, I do ask that you attempt to present each class about 1,250 words--- that’s approximately 5 pages with 250 words per page, double-spaced.
MICROSOFT WORD is what is the common language, so please get access to this program. No fancy fonts please. We will only have time for 5 pages per person
per week as we will devote much of our time to workshopping your longer
pieces. Also, in order to give each writer enough time, I would ask
that you try not to workshop more than 15 pages (3,750 words) each
time. Of course, if a story or chapter is longer and must be read in
its entirety, please just let me know so I can adjust the schedule. And
again, if you are struggling with your life or writing, please call or
email me. We can always figure something out!
What to expect of me:
am here, for 12 weeks (and it often grows past that), as your personal
writing coach. You will each have some very specific needs, and I very
much want to address them. If the workshop is somehow not addressing
them, or you are struggling with an issue, please talk to me—pull me
aside after class, call or email me. I promise to do my best to make
this an adventure in your storytelling….
How To Get There:
Hein & CO Bookstore
204 North Main Street
Jackson, CA 95642
A Letter to Writers Considering Taking the Workshop:
we had a writing workshop or private coaching in the past, or maybe you
have not formally written in a group. Perhaps you are seeking the
framework of a class, that wonderful corset of having to deliver. Or
maybe you seek a private, intensive format where, either by email and
phone or in person, we work one-on-one to develop your project. Or
maybe you are considering coaching because there is a subject that
demands to be written, there is a ripeness to your life that lends
itself to memoir, or writing itself has for too long been a dream
Whatever the impulse, the empty page looms as a scary, exhilarating, seductive place that has you whispering at odd hours, yes, I should write. I must write. I am distracted by
the stories in my head. I let stories out when I write, though they
don't come out as I intend. Moreover, I seem to have so much stored up
inside me that when I speak, I am spilling over with narrative: I recount, therefore I am.
Working together, whether in a workshop or privately, is about you
telling and you risking. It is about an utterance, a thing you say to
yourself, that becomes a mental note, a nascent story, and soon it must
be written. This is about all those times you say-- or someone hears
you and says-- this should be a story.You've got to get this out. But how?
For nearly twenty years, I have helped students answer that question.
Some have been professional writers needing an edit, others had not
written since they were criticized in the fifth grade. I've overseen
books into print, screenplays into production, and essays into
newspapers. And more often than not, these writings came from
beginners. Because of this, I am deeply committed to the notion that
good writing is based on skills and these skills can be learned.
One student with a knack for exaggeration said about working with me: "Sarah
Luck Pearson can get a rock to write." But I know that every new and
experienced writer coming my way was already a sophisticated raconteur,
or could see the patterns in things, or could spot one salient detail
about a person or a place that spoke vividly for the whole. It was
merely getting them to assemble the pieces of this craft, and bit by
bit, that's what we do: Break a story down so that you have the future
skills to D.I.Y a compelling narrative.
the end of the process, maybe you'll sell a piece, maybe you'll have
recorded your life story for generations to learn from, maybe you'll
have found a whole new creative outlet. Maybe all three. But whatever
direction this writing adventure takes, you will have developed an
intimate connection to the structure, characters, details, and scenes
that were once floating in your head and now offer you both power
and immense relief to see them captured on that once empty page.
The hard part? Well, it's always about getting started. But that's over.
You are not browsing. You are preparing to tell a story.
And you are already in Chapter One...
"The role of the writer is not to say what all can say, but what we are unable to say."
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. That land mine is me."
Here is where you bring a project, a panicked deadline, a wish to have a personal writing mentor, an out-of-town (or cyber as
it's called today) desire to take a class from the comfort of your
home, and I make it fit to you. Together, we will outline the course
you need to meet your goals. The more I know about your skills and
project goals, the more this will evolve. This is catering at its best:
You want to write a piece now, have a skilled reader to give feedback
and see the next few edits through, than this is your best choice. You
have a pressing, coronary, deadline, a writer's block that feels
like cement in your left frontal cortex, you can't see how you can
possibly tell this tangled story without a clear-headed, skilled hand to
guide you out of the basement and into the comfortable space of
Private coaching is perfect for all these natural writing
cycles. I still love the quote from the movie "Being There": "Yes. In
the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but
then comes fall and winter. But we do get spring and summer again."
I will work closely with you in your winters. I will make sure you see a nascent bud....
Summary of Fees:
contact me about the different tailored programs for individual
students. Basic private fees are an emailed piece is $5 a page with a
follow-up consultation on the phone or in person of $40 an hour, with an
hour minimum. Travel time is added for those wanting a private
workshop in their homes. But best to call and see what you project or
desire entails... Contact.