Register now for upcoming classes at the Writers Grotto! Early enrollment is strongly recommended, as course offerings frequently sell out. If a class is filled to capacity, please contact the instructor to request waiting-list placement.
All upcoming classes are listed below. You may also browse these categories:
TUESDAYS, JUNE 25; JULY 2-23 | Life proliferates at the continent’s ragged edge, where sunlight illuminates the water and a wide variety of species flourishes. Such is the case with writing, which grows most vivid at the roughest spots. Regardless of your genre, this is where you too will find your richest material.
Over these next five weeks, we’ll explore ways to connect with what lies within and bring it to the surface through the power of the written word. This will take the form of reading assignments from diverse authors including Persimmon Blackbridge and Mark Doty, handouts, writing prompts and feedback from me as well as from your peers.
WEDNESDAYS, JUNE 26; July 3-31 | This course is designed for students who have experience in a fiction writing workshop and want to go deeper in developing their writing. In our intimate workshop, we will discuss the direction your work is taking and how you can move it towards publication. Your will have the opportunity to have your work discussed in the workshop at least three times. We will discuss craft issues as they relate to strengthening your individual writing. I will give you written feedback on all of your submissions. You will be expected to read and give feedback on other students’ work.
MONDAY, JULY 8-29; AUG 5-12 | Do you want to write the Great American Novel but find it hard to finish a short story? Maybe you need to ease into writing with something you can write a first draft of in a few hours. I believe that before we can tackle a longer piece of writing, it’s important to learn the elements of what make good writing, and the perfect practice ground for this is short fiction.
This class will focus on learning these elements by writing flash fiction (stories under 1500 words). We will discuss different aspects of craft and read some of the best examples of flash.
MONDAYS, JULY 8-29; AUGUST 5-19 (No class July 29) | You have a story to tell about your life, but don’t know where to begin. The tendency is to start at the beginning and plod along, but that rarely makes for a compelling read. Writing guru William Zinsser suggested starting the process by writing vivid scenes, the moments that have the most emotion – the most juice – and then slowly letting the memoir take shape in theme and structure. In this class, we will work on those beginning scenes, and over time, see where your memoir, fiction, or essay is going.
WEDNESDAYS, July 10, 17 & 24 |
For a freelance journalist, essayist, nonfiction writer, or marketing professional, pitch letters not only generate work but also can help open doors, build new relationships, or kickstart a career. A really great pitch has power, so it’s no wonder that writing one (plus targeting it to the right publication and getting it in front of the right person) can be so challenging.
In this class, you’ll gain new insights into what editors are looking for and learn new ways to make your pitch letters as compelling as possible. Each class will include tips on sharpening your story ideas and presenting them to editors, plus time for workshopping student pitches.
SATURDAY, JULY 13th | For some writers, first drafts are the fun part. Anything is possible! After that, revision can feel overwhelming. But it can also be fun and rewarding, especially when broken down into manageable components.
Come to this one-day revision boot camp with your manuscript (two hard copies of either a fiction or creative nonfiction piece, 10 pages maximum) and you’ll go through a series of timed stations, examining and working on your pages from a wide angle and up close. Learn how to focus on one element at a time: dialogue, character emotions, setting, sensory details, plotting, time elements, a title brainstorm and more.
SATURDAYS, JULY 13-27 | This three-weekend afternoon class is for both beginning and seasoned musicians interested in generating and finessing original songs in a collaborative, supportive environment. The class will be largely generative – we will use prompts and exercises to get the words and ideas flowing. But each student will have a chance to bring in a song based on material they’ve generated for gentle feedback and critique. (They can either record it at home or perform it live for the class, depending on their instrumentation.) Finally, students will be paired in a fun, collaborative exercise that should result in a second completed song.
SUNDAY, July 14 | Michel de Montaigne, one of the masters of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen a greater monster or miracle in the world than myself.” Personal essays are stories of transformation – a journey of revealing and exploring that monster within, and taming it into self-knowledge. A personal essay is full of specific details of an experience that reveal a universal truth. In this one-day class, we’ll look at some examples of great personal essays, talk about the structure of an essay, spark some ideas for your topics, and set you on course to write your own.
THURSDAYS, JULY 18-25; AUGUST 1-29; Sept 5 |
Writing memoir draws upon all of us. We are the writer, the narrator, and the character living the events recounted. But which events, and how recounted? Many of us start with a specific period of time or relationship in mind; others memoirists travel over decades in pursuit of a thematic connection. The hardest part is deciding how to organize it all. Our stories rarely leap fully-formed to the page, however well we think we remember all the pieces.
This class will provide concrete help through exploration and practice of such craft elements as narrative distance, scene and summary, and the handling of time.
SATURDAY, JULY 20 | Writing is wonderful when it flows, but how can we regularly tap into the flow state? In this class we will explore ways of accessing the unconscious for our writing. We will brainstorm, explore, play writing games, look at our dreams, and explore guided meditation for creativity. I will give you ten activities that you can use outside class to get inspired when the inspiration is not happening, and you will create 23 Ideas for Me — a book that we will brainstorm together with individualized prompts for your writing. This will be three hours (with a 10-minute break) of intense brainstorming, creating, idea-making, and writing that will leave you inspired to write NOW.
SATURDAYS, JULY 20-27; AUGUST 3-17 | This class is designed as a follow-up to Work in Progress Workshop. It is limited to students who have taken the Work in Progress Workshop (or the equivalent) by the end of June 2019. Students will need to have 10-15 pages ready for workshop by the first class session. If you have not taken Work in Progress Workshop, please write to me to see if this class meets your needs before signing up.
This class focuses exclusively on the exchange and reading of your fiction or narrative nonfiction (including memoir).
SUNDAY, JULY 21 | Whether you’ve always dreamed of writing professionally, you already do, or you’d like to figure out how to create better content for your job or business, this class will improve your writing in one day – guaranteed!
After some coffee, we’ll start off with Story and Structure in the morning. This will help you start the writing process: from getting over writers’ block, understanding your audience and purpose, doing research, brainstorming ,and creating an outline so that your writing is engaging, logical, smooth, and satisfying to the reader. We’ll also remind you of stuff you should’ve learned in high school but may have forgotten: how to avoid the dreaded passive voice, weak verbs, excess verbiage, and a corporate or academic tone.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 10 | Getting published is a thrill, but competition is stiff. To succeed, you have to carefully plan your career.
In this survey course, you’ll create a roadmap to your fondest literary ambitions. Do you want to make money? Get published in top magazines? Hit the bestseller list? You’ll learn to evaluate the market for your work by analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, finding your competitive edge and identifying your niche. You’ll lay out each step you must take to get from where you are to where you want to be.
This course will include a concise overview of the following topics:
- Setting goals
- Psychological obstacles
- Market research
- Negotiating rates
- Time management
- Professional organizations
- Working with literary agents
- Developing relationships with editors and publishers
This class is open to both new and mid-career writers pursuing their passion for the word.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 24 | If you’ve longed to attend a writing residency, where quiet, food and uninterrupted time are provided, you can experience a taste of indulgent focus at the Grotto’s first weekend writing retreat. Bring that unfinished story, that new chapter, those poems to our writing nooks and crannies, and enjoy the time and space to write in community with others. You’ll be well fed, supported and inspired to make solid headway with whatever writing project you’re working on.
You’ll get tips from a seasoned writer and writing retreat facilitator on how to make the most of our time together.