Memoir

Upcoming classes: Memoir


Maw Shein Win

Susan Ito

 

 

 

NEW DATE: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14 |

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 WritersCimarron 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

Contact: elcerritopoet@gmail.com

Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Date: Saturday, December 14th

Course fee: $100


Meghan Ward

 

 

 

TUESDAYS, JAN 14–FEB 11  | Are you feeling stuck or unmotivated to finish your novel, memoir, or short story collection? Are you a procrastinator? Are you easily distracted? Do you find yourself checking email, Facebook, and Instagram when you should be writing? You’re not alone!

Incorporating lessons from Charles Duhigg’s New York Times bestseller The Power of Habit and Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, I will help you design a writing routine that works for you and give you the tools to stick with it. You will set goals, create a plan for achieving those goals, and then get to work. This class is a five-session online version of my in-person Writing Habit class, giving you more tools and more personalized attention throughout the 28 days we’ll be meeting. Through our online class portal, you’ll have the opportunity to download class materials, upload assignments, and receive daily support and encouragement throughout the process. Make a New Year’s resolution now to FINISH THAT BOOK in 2020!

This is an online class.

Meghan Ward is a writer, professional book editor and the founder of Writerland.com, a blog about writing, editing, publishing, and social media. Her clients include novelists, memoirists, nonfiction authors, short story and personal essay writers, and PhD candidates. Through 15 years of editing experience, Meghan has developed a series of steps every writer can master to improve their stories, clean up their writing, and save thousands of dollars on freelance editors. Follow Meghan on Twitter @meghancward, on Facebook @meghanwardauthor and on Instagram at +meghancward.

Contact: meghan@meghanward.com

Number of sessions: 5

Time: Online; asynchronous. Classes post on Tuesdays.

Dates: Tuesdays, Jan. 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11

Course fee: $375


Laura Fraser

THURSDAYS, JAN 16–FEB 20 (skip one week) | This class is for writers who have begun a memoir and want help with scenes, structure, voice, and other elements of craft. This class is open only to students who have taken Laura’s Memoir: Write of Passage class, her Vivid Scenes class, or a multi-week memoir class at the Grotto or elsewhere (otherwise, please email Laura a sample of your work to be admitted). Most of this class will be devoted to workshopping sections of the students’ memoirs and working on overall structure, narrative arc, voice, and pitch. We will read passages from other memoirs as inspiration. This class is also appropriate for students who are working on a collection of personal essays with a unified theme. We’ll cover tricky questions regarding truth, memory, and what to tell your family. Included in the price of the class is a one-to-one half-hour session with the instructor, to be scheduled within a month of the final class.

Required text: Writing the Memoir, by Judith Barrington

Suggested text: The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr

Laura Fraser is a New York Times-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair, All Over the Map, and The Risotto Guru. She has written hundreds of articles for national publications, including at The New York TimesGourmet, Sunset, San Francisco MagazineO: 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.

Number of sessions: 5, plus individual half-hour critique session

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Dates: Jan. 16, 23 (no class Jan. 30); Feb. 6, 13, 20. Individual critique session by February 28.

Time: 5:45 pm – 8:15 pm

Course fee: $395 Early Bird until January 1; $425 after. Includes half-hour personal critique.


Susan Ito

 

 

 

FRIDAY, JAN 17 | End the week on a high! Join Grotto writer Susan Ito for an evening of writing designed to banish the work week and open a vein of creative energy to keep you writing through the weekend and beyond. Join the group for prompts at the community writing table or find your own cozy carrel or couch. Finish a story you’ve started or free-write your way to something new. Find inspiration and energy writing in community! Snacks, encouragement, and tea provided.

 

Susan Ito is the author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the literary anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. Her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Hyphen, Catapult, The Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is a MacDowell fellow, and was awarded residencies at Hedgebrook and the Blue Mountain Center. She has performed her solo show, The Ice Cream Gene, around the U.S. She teaches at Mills College and Bay Path University, and was one of the organizers of Rooted & Written at the Grotto, a series of events for writers of color in the Bay Area. Her theatrical adaption of Untold, stories of reproductive stigma, was produced at Brava Theater.

Contact: susanito@mac.com.

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Friday, Jan. 17

Course fee: $20


 

 

 

TUESDAYS FEB 18–MARCH 10  | * ONLINE* | Requires video and audio connection to the internet-based learning management system (four meetings).

Session I – In this session, an illustrative template and explanation of spiritual maps is given. You’ll create a spiritual map. Then, you use self-reflection on one or two significant events in your life in relation to your spiritual map to outline a spiritual journey. Between-session readings are encouraged from a provided list of spiritual journey stories. You’re encouraged to play with forms and styles.

Session II – Writers bring a draft of their spiritual journey, framed in personal essay, travel, and/or other creative nonfiction techniques. Sharing and reading among the attendees may occur depending on the group. Feedback and revising, discussion of styles and lenses come into this session.

Session III – Building on Sessions I & II, you attend Session III having expanded, revised and/or augmented your draft from Sessions I & II. You gain and give feedback in the session, as well as receive compassionate encouragement and feedback from the instructor. Exploration of publishing opportunities takes place at this session.

Session IV – Building on the previous sessions, writers bring to this meeting expanded, revised and/or augmented drafts of prose. Writers gain and give feedback from others in the session as well as from the instructor. We will explore publishing opportunities during this session.

Carla Walter, PhD, writer, dancer, speaker, and spiritual counselor, lives in the East Bay. Seeking to assist all people to awaken or remain so, she writes on sacred dance meditation, spirituality, and wellbeing. Through her firm Dance in the Spirit, LLC, she leads writing workshops and retreats on these topics. Her writing specialty is creative nonfiction, with eight books to her credit. They include Dance, Consumerism, and Spirituality, Leaving Cuba by Stark Raving Married, and Vote of No Confidence. Her personal essays on spiritual journeys appear in Unity Magazine. Carla is a longtime member of both The Authors Guild and Poets & Writers. With over 20 years of freelance writing and publishing, Carla has taught courses on spiritual journey writing at The Grotto and she’s been an instructor at San Diego Writer’s Ink.

Contact: dr.carlawalter@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 4

Time: Online, asynchronous and synchronous, classes are on Tuesdays, 6:45 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.

Dates: Tuesdays, February 18, 25 and March 3, 10

Course fee: $225


 

 

 

SATURDAYS, JAN 25–FEB 8  | Session I – In this session, an illustrative template and explanation of spiritual maps is given. You’ll create a spiritual map. Then, you use self-reflection on one or two significant events in your life in relation to your spiritual map to outline a spiritual journey. Between-session readings are encouraged from a provided list of spiritual journey stories. You’re encouraged to play with forms and styles.

Session II – Writers bring a draft of their spiritual journey, framed in personal essay, travel, and/or other creative nonfiction techniques. Sharing and reading among the attendees may occur depending on the group. Feedback and revising, discussion of styles and lenses come into this session.

Session III – Building on Sessions I & II, you attend Session III having expanded, revised and/or augmented your draft from Sessions I & II. You gain and give feedback in the session, as well as receive compassionate encouragement and feedback from the instructor. Exploration of publishing opportunities takes place at this session.

Carla Walter, PhD, writer, dancer, speaker, and spiritual counselor, lives in the East Bay. Seeking to assist all people to awaken or remain so, she writes on sacred dance meditation, spirituality, and wellbeing. Through her firm Dance in the Spirit, LLC, she leads writing workshops and retreats on these topics. Her writing specialty is creative nonfiction, with eight books to her credit. They include Dance, Consumerism, and Spirituality, Leaving Cuba by Stark Raving Married, and Vote of No Confidence. Her personal essays on spiritual journeys appear in Unity Magazine. Carla is a longtime member of both The Authors Guild and Poets & Writers. With over 20 years of freelance writing and publishing, Carla has taught courses on spiritual journey writing at The Grotto and she’s been an instructor at San Diego Writer’s Ink.

Contact: dr.carlawalter@gmail.com.

Number of sessions: 3

Time:  10:00 am -3:00 pm

Dates: Saturdays, Jan. 25; Feb.1, Feb. 8

Course fee: $225


Jenny Bitner

 

 

 

SATURDAY, JAN 25  | 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.

Jenny Bitner’s stories have appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Sun, PANK, Mississippi Review, and the Fabulist. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia. She is a certified hypnotherapist and is especially interested in using the unconscious mind to enhance creativity.

Contact: jenny.bitner@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10 am – 1 pm

Dates: Saturday, Jan. 25

Course fee: $95


Laura Fraser

 

 

MONDAYS, JAN 27–FEB 10 |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 TimesGourmet, Sunset, San Francisco MagazineO: 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. She brings a sense of humor to class, and sometimes snacks.

Number of sessions: 3

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Time: 5:45-8:15 pm

Date: Mondays, January 27, February 3, 10

Course fee: $225


Lindsey Crittenden

 

 

 

FRIDAY, FEB 7 | End the week on a high! Join Grotto writer Lindsey Crittenden for an evening of writing designed to banish the work week and open a vein of creative energy to keep you writing through the weekend and beyond. Join the group for prompts at the community writing table or find your own cozy carrel or couch. Finish a story you’ve started or free-write your way to something new. Find inspiration and energy writing in community! Snacks, encouragement, and tea provided.

 

Lindsey Crittenden is the author of an award-winning short-fiction collection, The View From Below, and a memoir, The Water Will Hold You (“exquisitely written,” Publishers’ Weekly starred review). Recent short fiction has been published in Mississippi Review and Cimarron Review, and has been performed onstage by Word for Word. An Honored Instructor at U.C. Berkeley Extension, she has taught and helped develop creative writing curriculum for 20 years.

Contact: slindsey@lindseycrittenden.com.

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Friday, Feb. 7

Course fee: $20


Lit Starts: Writing Character

Constance Hale

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAYS, FEB 17–MARCH 23 | * EAST BAY *  | Practiced writers often use freewrites, prompts, and journaling to get going in the morning, shake out the cobwebs at night, and generate new material at any time of day. This workshop uses the Lit Starts series, published by The Writers Grotto, to inspire you. Led by Constance Hale— author of seven books, master editor, and longtime writing coach—each session relies on prompts from the Lit Starts books Writing Action, Writing Character, and Writing Dialogue. Lots of flash writing in class, as well as homework assignments, will help you apply new techniques. Connie will give you detailed edits, so that you can revise (or “rinse”) and develop finished pieces. (These might be vignettes, character sketches, screenplay scenes, short stories, poems, or plays.) A copy of all three books is included in the price of the class. Writers in all genres welcome. Come ready to play and to discover new facets of your writing self.

Constance Hale is a San Francisco–based journalist and the author of four cheeky writing manuals, a book for adults on hula, and a picture book for children set in Hawai‘i. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many national magazines, and she specializes in profiles and personality sketches. In 2019, her essay on writing profiles kicks off Writing Character, a book chockful of thoughts, tips, and prompts that is part of the Lit Starts series. She can be found at www.sinandsyntax.com.

Class held at Sports Basement Berkeley, 2727 Milvia St. (Thank you, Sports Basement!)

Contact: chale@well.com.

Number of sessions: 6

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Dates: Mondays, February 17–March 23

Course fee: $320

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