Online Class

Upcoming classes: Online Class


Lavinia Spalding

TUESDAYS, JAN. 5 — FEB. 9  |  Even when we aren’t traveling, we can still travel through our memories of past trips. And there’s never been a better time than now to reflect on a journey you’ve already taken and put it on the page. In this six-session virtual workshop, you’ll write and revise a personal travel essay, from vague idea to final draft, and take steps to get it published. Along the way, you’ll learn the essentials of narrative travel writing, including structure, setting, characterization, and story arc. You’ll develop and strengthen your writing voice, awaken your senses, and come to recognize your juiciest, most compelling material. In addition to writing and revising your own essay, you’ll have the opportunity to study published pieces and discuss what made these essays shine. You’ll learn not only what an editor looks for in a story submission, but also gain the invaluable skill of viewing your own writing with an editor’s eye in order to make difficult but essential revisions. We’ll discuss the business of travel writing and the ethics of creative nonfiction, and we’ll go over tips for submitting writing and working with editors. You’ll come away with a list of print and online publication outlets, plus plenty of ideas and inspiration for future projects.

If you’ve ever aspired to being a travel writer, consider this your passport. Essays written in prior sessions of this course have been chosen for anthologies such as Lonely Planet’s An Innocent Abroad, Harvard Bookstore’s Around the World, and Travelers’ Tales The Best Travel Writing, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, and Wake Up and Smell the Shit.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Lavinia Spalding is an award-winning writer and editor. She is the six-time series editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing, author of Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, and co-author of With a Measure of Grace and This Immeasurable Place. She introduced the e-book edition of Edith Wharton’s classic travelogue, A Motor-Flight Through France, and her work appears in such publications as AFAR, Longreads, Tin House, Yoga Journal, Sunset, AirBnB magazine, Ms., Post Road, Inkwell, The Bold Italic, Westways, San Francisco magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian, and has been widely anthologized. Lavinia is a member of The Writers Grotto and Peauxdunque Writers’ Alliance. When she isn’t teaching writing workshops around the world, she lives with her family in New Orleans and on Cape Cod.

Contact: lavinia@laviniaspalding.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Tuesdays, January 5, 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9

Time:  6:00 pm-8:30 pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $395


WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 6 – Feb. 3  | Aspiring novelists face a particularly daunting task: completing a full manuscript on their own—often before they can even approach agents about their work. The prospect can make novel-writing feel a bit like jumping from the top of a tall building and hoping someone will catch you. Except you have to keep jumping from the top of that building every single day for the next three months to ten years.

This five-part course is designed for writers looking to embark on their first novel. We will delve into the essential elements of storytelling (character, setting, plot, conflict and theme) and how these apply to your own work. We’ll begin by going over story structure and strategies for outlining your novel. Next, we’ll look at character arc, in particular how the internal journey(s) of your main character(s) map onto the rubric of your external plot. From there, our focus will shift to character development, examining the conflicts and motivations that drive your protagonist(s), antagonist(s), and supporting characters, and how point of view affects the reader’s experience. After reviewing these big picture elements, we’ll talk about how to craft individual scenes and chapters, with a particular focus on the role of narrative tension. Finally, we’ll discuss the importance of setting and theme in your novel. To illustrate these concepts, we will read and analyze excerpts from contemporary masters of the craft like Chang Rae-Lee, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Julia Luisella, C. Pam Zhang, and N.K. Jemisin.

Through in-class discussions, targeted group work, and writing exercises, we dig deep into what makes a novel work, how to start writing and how to keep yourself writing. At the end of the course, you should have a stronger sense of the story you want to tell—and a plan for how to complete the first draft of your novel.

While there are no prerequisites for this course, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Beloved by Toni Morrison will be referenced to demonstrate structural elements, so some basic familiarity (even if only from, say, SparkNotes) with the plots and main characters of each may be helpful.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Emily Holleman is the author of Cleopatra’s Shadows and The Drowning King (both Little Brown & Company), the first of which was long-listed for the HWA Debut Crown. She is currently working on a speculative novel set in California of the not-so-distant future. Her nonfiction has appeared in Elle, LitHub, Salon, and BookPage, among others.

Contact: emily@emilyholleman.com

Number of sessions: 5

Dates: Wednesdays, January 6, 13, 20, 27; February 3

Time: 5:00 – 7:00pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $300


Lyzette WanzerTHURSDAYS, JAN. 7 — FEB. 11  |  This six-week workshop is open to writers who are considering applications for—or wish to learn about—creative writing grants, fellowships, and residencies. This workshop will cover:

  • The best places to locate opportunities.
  • The dreaded Project Statement, Work Plan, or Goals and Objectives question.
  • How to demonstrate a rising trajectory (remembering that most people who are awarded grants are on their way up, not already there).
  • Using headings and “buckets” to make your statement navigable.
  • How to craft clear, concise personal or artist statements. (You’ll leave this class with a completed first draft in hand!)
  • Why the marketing angle is so important.
  • Creating an effective literary resume. (You’ll have a nice new one at the end of class!)

Asynchronous learning materials for this class will be available online (via the Wet Ink platform). Scheduled class sessions will take place via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for details.

Lyzette Wanzer’s work appears in over 25 literary journals and books, and she is a contributor to The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays (Wyatt-MacKenzie), The Naked Truth, Essay Daily, and San Francisco University High School Journal. A three-time San Francisco Arts Commission and Center for Cultural Innovation grant recipient, Lyzette serves as judge for the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition’s Intercultural Essay category. She is the recipient of four CCI Quick Grants, one Investing in Artists grant, two fellowships, and she’s been awarded six residencies. She is currently helming an essay anthology entitled Trauma, Tresses, & Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narrative.

Contact: AuthorLyzetteWanzer@LyzetteWanzerMFA.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Thursday, January 7, 14, 21, 28; February 4, 11

Time: 5:30 – 7:30pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $330


Lisa Lerner

FRIDAYS OR SATURDAYS, JAN. 8 — 30  |  When you were a kid, you were probably obsessed with the hero of a book. You loved that book because it was hilarious, or thrilling, or made you feel as though you weren’t a weirdo living on the wrong planet. Maybe it taught you things you didn’t realize were possible. Maybe it even helped you survive.

There are a lot of categories in children’s literature. In this class, we will focus on learning the essentials: memorable characters, unique voice, strong plot, deep emotion, and a big idea.

This is a fast-paced class in which we will wrap our heads around some general children’s writing rules, do a lot of juicy, in-class writing, then draft and revise an 800-1500 word book.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Lisa Lerner is the author of the crossover YA novel Just Like Beauty (FSG; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, currently in development with Lars Von Trier as a movie shooting in 2021). For over 20 years, she has been writing numerous children’s stories for educational publishers such as Scholastic, McGraw Hill, and IXL. She is currently at work on her first full-length middle-grade novel that features talking bears and a very literate rat. You can find out more about her at www.lisalerner.com

Contact: writingismagic100@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 4

Dates / Times:

Fridays, January 8, 15, 22, 29; 9:00 – 10:30am Pacific Time

…or…

Saturdays, January 9, 16, 23, 30; 10:00 – 11:30am Pacific Time

Course fee: $180


Meghan Ward

TUESDAYS, JAN. 12 — FEB. 9 | 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!

This class is for all levels, from beginners who want to kickstart a writing habit to professionals who need some encouragement. 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.

This is an asynchronous learning course; classes and materials will be available via the online platform Wet Ink.

Meghan Ward is the author of Runway: Confessions of a Not-So-Supermodel, a memoir about her misadventures as a fashion model in Europe and Japan in the early 90s. She is a freelance writer, book editor, and social media consultant, and she blogs about writing, editing, and publishing at Writerland.com. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, San Francisco Magazine, 7×7, Mutha, the San Francisco Chronicle, It’s So You: 35 Women Write About Personal Expression Through Fashion and Style, and Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters. Follow her on Twitter @meghancward, on Facebook @meghanwardauthor, and on Instagram at meghancward.

Contact: meghanward@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 5

Dates: Tuesdays, January 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9

Time: Modules go live Tuesday mornings at 8:00am.

Course fee: $375


Meghan FlahertyTUESDAYS, JAN. 12 — FEB. 16  | In this class, we will explore how to incorporate research into personal narrative. This might mean anything—from family history to falconry, true crime to anthropology, or botany, or musicology. The possibilities are endless. Is there a story behind or beside the story you are telling that will help you tell it better? What are some ways to structure hybrid work? How do we navigate changes in tone? We will study some of the best contemporary essayists and writers for inspiration, and attempt our own fusion of fact and feeling. (Helen MacDonald, Edmund De Waal, Alexander Chee, Maggie Nelson, Leslie Jamison, and more.)

Students will read excerpts to discuss in class, and also will be asked to write (and invited to share) two short (2- to 5-page) attempts at fusing their own research and writing.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for details.

Meghan Flaherty is the author of Tango Lessons. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University in literary nonfiction. Her essays and translations have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Iowa Review, Psychology Today, and online at the New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.

Contact: meghan.bean@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Tuesday, January 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16

Time: 12:00 – 1:30pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $270


Lyzette WanzerTUESDAYS, JAN. 12 — FEB. 16  | This workshop, especially geared for creative writers of color, is an empowering, vital asset addressing the nuts and bolts of producing a sustainable literary career. Becoming a professional writer requires just as much work outside of the studio as within it. If you are a serious, committed writer of color invested in developing yourself as a professional, this workshop is for you. We will cover how to market yourself as a professional author, how to create industry-standard marketing materials such as your literary resume, author bio, artist statement, and online profiles, where to secure funding to support time off for your projects, how to create and use a literary calendar to open doors of opportunity, and more. You will receive a comprehensive packet of handouts to guide you as you build your career. This class is best suited for digitally savvy participants who maintain a regular writing practice.

Asynchronous learning materials for this class will be available online (via the Wet Ink platform). Scheduled class sessions will take place via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for details.

Lyzette Wanzer’s work appears in over 25 literary journals and books, and she is a contributor to The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays (Wyatt-MacKenzie), The Naked Truth, Essay Daily, and San Francisco University High School Journal. A three-time San Francisco Arts Commission and Center for Cultural Innovation grant recipient, Lyzette serves as judge for the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition’s Intercultural Essay category. She is the recipient of four CCI Quick Grants, one Investing in Artists grant, two fellowships, and she’s been awarded six residencies. She is currently helming an essay anthology entitled Trauma, Tresses, & Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narrative.

Contact: AuthorLyzetteWanzer@LyzetteWanzerMFA.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Tuesdays, January 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16

Time: 5:30 – 7:30pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $300


Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard

WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 13 — FEB. 17  |  This class creates a safe space for writers of different faith backgrounds—or perhaps none—to explore their own spirituality while close-reading diverse writings from a range of religious traditions. When we burn to share the questions and convictions that draw us to a reality beyond our limited selves, how do we work with language to contain the ineffable? How do we write about spirituality without oversimplifying infinite complexities? How can our writing reach those who already share our beliefs, and those who don’t? To find out, we’ll look at Abraham Heschel’s poetic thoughts on the meaning of the Sabbath, Kazim Ali’s journal of keeping Ramadan, Christian Wiman’s meditations on returning to Christianity after a period of atheism, and more. Alternating between reading weeks and writing weeks, we’ll draft three works: a spiritual autobiography, a spiritual journal, and an essay. You’ll receive a wealth of feedback on each from a subset of class members and from me.

This class will be held via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Rachel Howard is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night, and a novel, The Risk of Us. Her personal essays and short stories have appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Waxwing, ZYZZYVA, Gulf Coast, O, The Oprah Magazine, Berfrois, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Warren Wilson College and later served there as Interim Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing. She has also taught as Visiting Writer for the M.F.A. program at St. Mary’s College of California.

Number of sessions: 6

Contact: rachel.howard@gmail.com

Date: Wednesdays, January 13, 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17

Time: 5:30 – 7:30pm Pacific time

Course fee: $450


Lindsey Crittenden

WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 20 — MAR. 10  |  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. We’ll explore the challenges of writing about real people and our own lived experience, of placing our narrative in a wider context, and of examining our own motivations, perceptions, and insights.

Memoir-writing is not for the faint of heart. If you’re committed to finding your story, and telling it as only you can tell it, please join us for 8 weeks of intensive exploration. There will be regular writing/reading homework as well as in-class exercises and sharing of work in a supportive atmosphere.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Lindsey Crittenden’s memoir writing has appeared in Best American Spiritual Writing, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Cimarron Review, Image, and many other publications. She is the author of the memoir The Water Will Hold You (which Publishers Weekly called “gorgeously written”) and has taught memoir-writing for more than 15 years.

Contact: lindsey@lindseycrittenden.com

Number of sessions: 8

Dates: Wednesdays, January 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $495


Jenny Bitner

WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 20 — FEB. 24 | Is it true or is it fiction – and does it matter? Often the lines between memoir and fiction can be blurry. And most of great literature has at least some elements of truth in it, from books that are largely autobiographical like Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and Chris Kraus’s Aliens and Anorexia to fictional worlds like Raymond Carver’s and Denis Johnson’s that are drawn from a world that could only be created through personal experience.

In this class we will explore memories, experiences, and characters from our own lives and turn them into fictional stories, blending the richness of our emotional and felt experiences with elements from our imagination to create compelling writing. We will have writing prompts, in-class exercises, and reading assignments. This class is primarily a writing workshop, and your work will be discussed twice in the class. You will be expected to read and comment on classmates’ work.

Asynchronous learning materials for this class will be available online (via the Wet Ink platform). Scheduled class sessions will take place via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Jenny Bitner’s fiction and poetry has been published in Mississippi Review, The Fabulist, The Sun, Fence, Corium, Fourteen Hills, Mid-American Review, and PANK. Pine Press published a chapbook of her poetry entitled Mother. Her story “The Pamphleteer” was published in Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her work was also included in the anthology Writing That Risks. Her nonfiction has appeared in Utne Reader, To-Do List, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Men’s Health. She earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Virginia. Her novel Here Is A Game We Could Play is coming out Spring 2021 with Acre Books.

Contact: jenny.bitner@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Wednesdays, January 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $395

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