Upcoming classes: Career Skills
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 | One of the toughest parts of being a freelancer can be figuring out what your editor wants from you and when they will want it. If you’ve never worked the other side of the desk, editors can seem capricious, demanding, and uncommunicative. Understanding the editorial process will minimize your frustration and can help you build solid relationships that lead to more work.
By the end of this three-hour, interactive workshop you will better understand the jobs of different levels of editors at various publications. You’ll have a good sense of how stories are developed, approved, and edited. And you’ll walk away with tips about how to smooth the process, and how to deal with revision requests, photo memos, and fact checking. We’ll talk about when and how to stick to your guns – and when to compromise.
Come with stories from the trenches! This is a facilitated conversation, not a top-down training. We’ll discuss your best- and worst-case experiences and brainstorm solutions and strategies. By the end, you should leave with some templates for difficult emails you’ll need to write as well as a class-list of peer freelancers who can become part of your trusted network for facing the challenges of freelancing.
Sarah Pollock has decades of experience as a writer and editor. She has managed magazines and been a senior editor at Mother Jones, developing stories for a national audience. At the moment, she’s working the freelance writing side again – even though she’s appalled at what’s happened to pay rates. She’s also a veteran teacher and facilitator, having spent a couple of decades running the journalism program at Mills College.
Number of sessions: 1
Dates: Saturday, September 28
Time: 10 am – 1:00 pm
Course fee: $100
SATURDAYS, OCTOBER 26; NOVEMBER 2-23 | Writers, it’s time to set aside the bevy of excuses about why you’re not sending your work out to journals, newspapers, magazines, and contests. In this boot camp-style workshop, you’ll focus on submitting a maximum of two short stories, articles, essays, and/or creative nonfiction pieces to 15 markets in just five weeks (poets should be prepared to submit a group of three to five related poems.) In a safe, supportive community, you’ll begin by learning proper submission etiquette and protocol, avoiding pitfalls that mark you as an amateur.
- Learn where to locate legitimate, respectable markets, including literary journals, contests, and grants
- Become proficient in navigating the publication landscape
- Get practical tips on formatting professional submissions
- Find out what the most popular submission platforms are and how they make your life easier
- Write your author bio
- Create a Research Collection Sheet to identify individualized markets
- Select and use a professional submission tracker
- This workshop is designed for committed writers who have one or two finished, polished pieces (three to five pieces for poets) of 5,000 words or less that are completed, proofread, and ready to send out for publication. A laptop, notebook computer, or iPad is required for this class.
Lyzette Wanzer is a San Francisco writer, editor, and creative writing workshop instructor. She received her M.F.A. in Fiction from Mills College. A flash fiction connoisseur and essay aficionado, her work has appeared in Callaloo, Tampa Review, The MacGuffin, Ampersand Review, Journal of Advanced Development, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Pleiades, Flashquake, Glossalia Flash Fiction, Potomac Review, International Journal on Literature and Theory, Fringe Magazine, The Naked Truth, and many others. She is the recipient of an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, three Individual Artist Commission grants from San Francisco Arts Commission, and three Professional Development Grants from the Creative Capacity Fund.
Number of sessions: 5
Time: 11:00 am – 1:30 pm
Dates: Saturdays, October 26; November 2, 9, 16, 23.
Course fee: $330
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27 |
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
Number of sessions: 1
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Dates: Sunday, October 27
Course fee: $95
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3 | The beauty of nonfiction books is that they can frequently be sold on the basis of a 40- to 60-page proposal. What is a proposal? Essentially, it is a business plan for a book – a document that outlines your basic premise, provides data on competing titles, includes audience research, summarizes chapter contents and includes other core information that convinces a publisher to give you a wad of money so you can take time off and write it. Memoirs, narrative journalism, business books, histories, and biographies can all be sold on proposal.
In this seminar, students will learn the seven components of a successful book proposal, study examples of proposals that led to book deals, and get the lowdown on the publishing industry – including the best way to find an agent.
This seminar is helpful for writers who are interested in sussing out an idea to see if it has market value or for writers who are “stuck” and need to step back and examine their book’s structure and big ideas to make sure they’re working with a solid, original premise.
Fresh coffee and light snacks included.
Julia Scheeres is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Jesus Land and of the narrative history A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown. She has taught creative writing at San Jose State and Stanford University and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in many publications, both large and small. A few clips: https://juliascheeres.contently.com
Number of sessions: 1
Time: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon
Date: Sunday, November 3
Course fee: $125
THURSDAYS, NOVEMBER 7-21 |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 three weeks – guaranteed!
The first week, we’ll start off with Story and Structure. 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.
The second week, we’ll dive in to Revisions and Style. That will help you cast a critical eye on your creative efforts to become a clearer, more compelling writer. We’ll cover ways to cut clutter and make your writing sparkle. We’ll talk about the basics of good narrative and do a few writing exercises so that you will have hands-on experience revising your work as well as editing others’ pieces.
You’ll bring in a short piece you’ve written to the third class, Workshopping, so we can help you revise it. At the end of the three weeks we’ll toast our success as better writers. You’ll leave with that great feeling: Hey, I can write!
Laura Fraser is a New York Times-bestselling author of three books who has worked as a freelance journalist since she graduated from college. She has written hundreds of articles for national publications, including at The New York Times, Gourmet, Sunset, San Francisco Magazine, O: the Oprah Magazine, and many others. She has taught writing at universities and writing conferences, as well as at the Grotto, for over 20 years. She conducts workshops internationally in writing and digital storytelling for corporations and non-profits to help people everywhere be better writers. She’s also the niece and mentee of the late William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well.
Number of sessions: 3
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Date: Thursdays, November 7, 14, 21
Course fee: $200
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17 |
In this interactive, one-day workshop, we will collaborate on producing a zine together. Instructors Susan Ito and Maw Shein Win will introduce a host of collaborative writing exercises to ignite your imagination and push your creative practice to new places. We will share inventive strategies to generate fresh ideas and inspire your writing through working and playing together. You will learn how to physically construct your own zine that includes work from the whole group.
At the end of the workshop, you will leave with a unique collaborative zine of words and images as well as an invaluable list of resources and exercises to keep you moving forward in your writing and creative life. This lively and engaging workshop is excellent for both poets and prose writers who have an interest in collaborative writing. Beginners are welcomed, as well as experienced poets, writers and artists who are looking to stretch their creative boundaries.
Light snacks and beverages provided. Bring a notebook.
Maw Shein Win is a poet, editor, and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Poetry International, Poets and Writers, Cimarron Review, Fanzine, and others. She is a member of the The Writers’ Grotto, and her poetry chapbook Score and Bone is on Nomadic Press (2016). Her collection Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. Maw is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito (2016 – 2018), and her forthcoming full-length collection will be published by Omnidawn in 2020. She is a 2019 Visiting Scholar in the English Department at UC Berkeley.
Susan Ito is author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. She has been a columnist and editor at Literary Mama, and her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Catapult, The Bellevue Literary Review, Making More Waves and elsewhere. She has performed her solo show, The Ice Cream Gene, around the United States. She writes and teaches at the Writers’ Grotto, at Bay Path University and Mills College.
Number of sessions: 1
Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Date: Sunday, November 17
Course fee: $100