Register now for upcoming classes! 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:
SATURDAY, JUNE 23 | Six hours, 60 bucks, free bagels, buckets of grammar. How can you resist? Grotto member Connie Hale will lead you through a series of hilarious exercises to perk up your writing in surprising ways. (We’ll use Sin and Syntax as our guide, but dip also into Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch.) Writers will stretch new muscles, disabuse themselves of bad habits, and duke it out in a war of words. We’ll also talk about how to cultivate that most elusive of literary elements: the writer’s voice. This 1-day session is perfect for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir who want to take their prose to the next level.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, JUNE 28 —JULY 26 | Need some structure and community to keep writing? If you’re looking to generate pages and gain insight into your project – whether fiction, memoir, personal essay, narrative nonfiction, or some combination thereof – set aside five Thursday evenings this summer. You’ll find a supportive community designed to foster productivity and good writing habits. We’ll address specific craft issues as they come up, and I will be available for meeting one-on-one. You’ll have the opportunity to meet in small groups for feedback (with specific guidance), if you choose. Homework assignments are designed to help you meet your goals, wherever you may be in the process.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY & SUNDAY, JUNE 30 —JULY 1 | Are you a spiritual seeker with questions to explore in writing? Do you want to write about a spiritual experience that has transformed or changed you? In this two-day workshop, you’ll identify, unveil, and select important steps and plateaus of your journey to write about. We’ll explore three methods of spiritual writing:
- Using genres such as memoir, travel writing, essay, letter, and short story to harness and frame the essence of spiritual matters;
- Identifying techniques for “documenting” spiritual experiences that are ephemeral and change over time; and,
- Applying craft devices such as imagery, scene, setting, theme and characters.
MONDAYS, JULY 2 —30 | Want to be taken seriously as an author, even though you have yet to publish the Great American Novel or place an article in The Atlantic? You’ll have to learn to treat your writing—poetry, fiction, nonfiction—as a business. Believe it or not, one of the best ways of getting the literary world to take you seriously is for you to manage the less-sexy aspects of your practice. That means harnessing professional free and low-cost tools to help you track your writing output, keep tabs on your submissions, initiate valuable contacts with fellow authors, learn the websites on which you should appear (and why you should appear there), and more.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, JULY 10—AUGUST 14 | Once relegated to the realm of belles lettres, the lyrical essay has become a highly popular genre in multiple disciplines, from journalism to the personal essay. Authors from Purpura and Forché to Didion and Dillard have written them. But what, exactly, is this form? Poetic essay or essayistic poem? Both – or neither? The form employs a series of images or ideas, rather than chronicle or argument, to sculpt a narrative. Often inconclusive, lyrical essays reach beyond archetypal classical frames to a meditative sense of place and displacement.
We’ll begin by identifying key components of the form, learn how to negotiate its terrain, and then get down to the business of crafting a lyric essay.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, JULY 14 —AUGUST 18 | Our bodies contain thousands of receptors that constantly bathe and bombard us with sensory information. Yet writers often struggle to transmit the intensity and particularity of these experiences.
In this six week class, relevant to both fiction and nonfiction writers, we will spend one session each on the senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing and vision, identify our reactions to stimuli, and work to enliven our presentation of these sensations. Through in-class exercises, guided writing, selected readings and homework assignments we will practice making bolder language choices to produce more energetic, sensational writing.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, JULY 18 —AUGUST 8 | Often considered one of the most difficult forms to master, the short story is a balancing act of brevity and depth. In this craft workshop, we will read great short stories from authors like James Baldwin, Alice Munro and Carmen Maria Machado that have particular strength in character, plot, setting, and emotional resonance and use these stories to discuss the craft of short story writing. We will workshop our own stories with these masters in mind. The best way to develop your craft is to imitate the masters.
Jenny Bitner‘s short stories have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Mississippi Review, The Sun and The Fabulist.→ READ MORE
ALTERNATE WEDNESDAYS, July 18 — August 15 | 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 and Facebook when you should be writing? You’re not alone!
Using lessons from Charles Duhigg’s New York Times bestseller, The Power of Habit, I will help you design a writing life 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.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, JULY 21 —AUGUST 18 | This workshop, especially designed for (but not limited to) African American, Latino, and Asian writers working in all genres, is an empowering, vital workshop addressing the practical concerns of establishing a sustainable literary career in the Bay Area. The truth is that building a writing career requires both creative and business skills, just as it does for other artists. If you are serious about your writing and want to increase your professional opportunities, as much work needs to happen outside of the studio as within it. In this intensive boot camp, you will learn:
- How to harness professional free and low-cost tools to help track your writing output, submission markets, and contest entries, and grant and M.F.A.
SUNDAYS, JULY 22 & JULY 29 | These two classes will help you become a better writer, whether you already write a lot, you long to write more, or you’d like to figure out how to create better content for your job or business. Writing and storytelling are crafts, and in these two day-long seminars you will learn the essential tools that will make you a better writer right away, and over time. Note: The classes are designed so that you can take them individually or as a pair (though we recommend you take both to really improve your chops).→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JULY 29 | 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 100 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.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, AUGUST 1 — 15 | No matter how compelling the characters, dialogue, or action, great scenes need a sense of place that all too often gets short shrift. And when your subject is a place itself, the task is only more demanding. It’s easy to fall back on list-making when writing about place, and that’s a tool that can be used to great effect, but there are so many more approaches to be explored. We’ll dive into some great writing about place, and will look at specific techniques great writers use to capture the world around them, focusing on writing about the real world, but looking at fiction as well.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, AUGUST 2—30 | Do you have pages ready for workshop? This class is designed for students who have have taken the Work in Progress Workshop (or will have done so by end of July) or the equivalent. Please do not sign up unless you will have completed Work in Progress by the end of July, or unless you have written to me to make sure the class will meet your needs. If you are looking to generate pages, the first class (Work in Progress Workshop) is the one for you.
In this class, we’ll focus exclusively on the exchange and reading of your fiction or narrative nonfiction (including memoir).→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, AUGUST 7 & 14 | For a freelance journalist, essayist, or nonfiction writer, a good pitch letter can not only generate work but open doors, build new relationships, or even kickstart a career. But crafting the best pitch, targeting it to the right publication, and getting it in front of the right person isn’t always simple.
In this class, you’ll gain new insights into what editors are looking for and why—as well as all the reasons they don’t want to assign you that story—and learn new ways to make your pitch letters as compelling as possible.→ READ MORE
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16 | We’ll read from the masters, Oliver Sacks and Joan Didion, and do our own generative short exercises to explore how to find points of entry into personal experiences of loss.
- All writing levels and genres welcome.
- The writing you create in the class will help kick start your writing process and give you tools for processing your grief.
- As a seriously ill patient as well as a caregiver for my mom, I channeled my grief into a book project and writing assignments (to help pay the bills and avoid going crazy) – often using humor.