Reclaiming Nature Writing, with Amanda Machado, July 28 (via Zoom)

WEDNESDAYS, JUL. 28 — AUG. 18  |  When we think about traditional “nature writing,” poems and essays about getting lost in “pristine wilderness” and survival stories of (mostly White) rugged adventurers may come to mind. In this course, we’ll use nature writing from Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, Queer and other writers of color to explore how we can write about nature and the outdoors  in ways that also considers issues like ancestry, colonization, racial justice, migration trauma, sexuality, and more.

In our time together, students will read work from authors like Audre Lorde, Kiese Laymon, Natalie Diaz, Sabrina Imbler, Marta Valdés, George Abraham, Robin Kimmerer, and many others to help expand their idea of what nature and outdoor writing can look like. We’ll use this work as inspiration and an entry way for creating and eventually sharing our own nature and outdoor writing with the group. By the end of the course, students will have at least one piece of nature writing (of any genre) to present to the class.

Write a College Essay the Fun Way! with Lisa Lerner, August 3 (via Zoom)

Lisa Lerner

TUESDAYS, AUG. 3 — SEP. 14  |  Get a jump on the college essay process before school starts and homework overwhelms! In this workshop, students will write at least one main college essay. In the process, they will learn essay-writing tools such as how to choose topics, write a compelling hook and introduction, develop ideas through personal anecdotes and observations, and reflect on their experiences to create powerful conclusions. Even though these essays are memoir-type nonfiction, they use many of the same tools that make fictional stories come alive.

Cheerleading, snake-charming, handholding, and tear-wiping – how do you get your teen to write those dreaded college essays? And WHY is it so dreaded? First, kids are expected to do a type of writing with which they have little to no academic experience. Then, suddenly, their whole life is on the line if they don’t tell the greatest story ever told – in which they are the star! On top of that, they need to reflect on What It All Means and How They Are Forever Changed. Yikes!

Pushing the Boundaries: Experiments in Fiction, Poetry, and Hybrid Writing, with Jenny Bitner, Aug. 4 (via Wet Ink / Zoom)

Jenny Bitner

WEDNESDAYS, AUG. 4 — SEP. 8  |  What happens when we approach writing like an experiment? Our minds are open, our writing is deep, and there is no room for writers’ block or cliché ideas. Burroughs used cut-up writing, Anaïs Nin made her diary her art, the surrealists played party games, and now novels are being written in Tweets and texts. Each week we will explore different experimental styles from surrealism to postmodernism to hybrid writing, and do exercises to loosen our minds and push us in new directions with our writing.

Pictures & Words: A Generative Workshop, with Daniela Rossell, August 31 (via Zoom)


FRIDAYS, AUG. 31 — OCT. 1  |  This hybrid online studio class invites you to experience the power of images and the written word in concert. We will look into the visual dimensions of language, make up semiotic games and in general experiment with inventive tensions between text and image. What does it mean to draw with the eyes of a writer? Or to write like an artist? We will see that our writing can be both an object and a portal that leads to other methods of creative investigation, other artworks, disciplines, selves, and universes. Here are key tools for problem solving and growing our imagination.

We will work through a series of hands-on photography/video/drawing exercises and online writing workshops as well as experiment with collage, found photos, overheard conversations, viewer comments, poem-pictures, word-works, images of writing, presentations, readings, critical discussions and many other artistic explorations custom-designed to the needs of the class.

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

Daniela Rossell was born and raised in Mexico City. She is an interdisciplinary artist and teacher who works solo and collaboratively in the fields of visual art and writing. Her first book, Ricas y Famosas, was described by historian Cuauhtémoc Medina as “among the most significant political works of the art of her country,” and by the New York Times as a “photographic journey through Mexico’s twilight zone.” Solo exhibitions of Rossell’s work have been organized by Greene Naftali gallery in New York City, by Spruth Magers Projekte in Munich. Her work has appeared in numerous books such as Witness to Her ArtThings with a History, An Exhibition About the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values; in publications such as ArtForum, El País, Le Point, Der Tagesspiegel, The Guardian, Proceso, TvNovelas, Le Monde; and has been shown around the world in museums and cultural institutions such as MoMA PS1, Tate Modern, Hammer Museum, SFMOMA, Les Recontres d’Arles, Kunst-Werke Berlin, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes to name a few.


Number of sessions: 6

Date: Fridays, August 31; September 3, 10, 17, 24; October 1

Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm Pacific time

Course fee: $360

Revise Ten Pages, with Lindsey Crittenden, August 11 (via Zoom)

WEDNESDAYS, AUG. 11 – 25 |  This short, fun, interactive class will help you revise, tighten, improve, and sharpen your writing. We’ll do in-class exercises, and students will be expected to complete focused homework assignments for each class. Students will learn how to examine their own writing as well as to provide constructive (never mean!) feedback to others.

Students will use their own (and one another’s) work to practice writing skills such as clarity and concision. We’ll examine the sentence, the paragraph, the phrase, as well as rhythm and meter, diction and syntax. We’ll identify and eliminate common weaknesses and clichés.

Bring up to ten pages—ANY ten pages, as long as they’re written in English for a non-academic or non-technical audience—and you’ll leave with concrete skills and greater confidence for works of any length.

Professional Submission Strategies, Tools, & Tips for Writers of Color, with Lyzette Wanzer, Aug. 12 (via Wet Ink/Zoom)

Lyzette WanzerSUNDAYS, AUG. 12 — SEP. 16  |  In a safe, supportive community catering to writers of color, learn how to plan a submissions strategy, create a plan of attack for your work, research markets, and locate the ones that are the best fits for your writing.

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 learn how to plan a submissions strategy create a plan of attack for your work, and learn how to research markets and locate the ones that are the best fits for your writing. Then we will focus on submitting short stories, articles, poems, essays, novel excerpts, and/or creative nonfiction pieces to over 15 markets. In a safe, supportive community, you’ll begin by learning proper submission etiquette and protocol, avoiding pitfalls that mark you as an amateur and get your submission tossed onto the “No” pile—before editors have even read it.

Friday Write-Ins with Lyzette Wanzer, Summer 2021 (via Zoom)

Make some time for your writing as you emerge from quarantine. Join Grotto member Lyzette Wanzer for an evening of writing designed to shift focus and open a vein of creative energy to keep you writing during this time. We’ll have prompts, accountability, and—if you choose—sharing. Finish a story you’ve started or free-write your way to something new. Find inspiration and energy writing in virtual community!

Choose one or more of the sessions below. Write-ins are held every Friday from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

All write-ins are held via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom login information.

Start from Scratch: Write a Story in 6 Weeks, with Lindsey Crittenden, Sept. 8th – Oct. 20th (via Zoom)

WEDNESDAYS, SEPT. 8th – OCT. 20th | In this class, we’ll spend six weeks building stories from the foundation. We’ll celebrate the trouble at the heart of good short fiction. We’ll look at ways to get characters in and out of (or deeper into) hot water. We’ll look closely at short stories that achieve unity of purpose, precision of craft, and an emotional wallop. We’ll explore diverse forms and voices and examine not only how each story builds from the first word to the last but how tightly the structure depends upon – and enhances – our understanding of character.

*CANCELLED* Revise and Submit Your Story for Publication, with Laurie Ann Doyle, Sept. 12th & 19th (via Zoom)

Laurie Ann Doyle

Laurie Ann Doyle

SUNDAYS, SEPT. 12th & 19th  | Whether you have a short story fresh out of the printer, or a memoir piece tucked away in the drawer, this highly interactive, two-session workshop gives you concrete tools to strengthen your writing and publish it. Students in this class have gone on to publish in online and print journals, as well as place in national writing contests. We’ll talk about revision as a process of “re-envisioning” your work, and you’ll learn how to accomplish this in do-able steps. You’ll have the chance to step back and look at your story, assess where it would most benefit from more work, and select among different in-class revision exercises to get the process started. At the second session, we discuss strategies to successfully publish your work, detailing effective approaches used by the instructor and other widely-published writers.

Writing Data-Driven Stories: Using And-But-Then Narratively, with Jaya Padmanabhan, Sept. 13th – Oct. 4th (via Zoom)

Jaya Padmanabhan

Jaya Padmanabhan

MONDAYS, SEPT. 13th – OCT. 4th  | Data sounds dull, but when used in an argument, an opinion, an analysis, a criticism, or as part of guerrilla journalism it becomes the engine that propels the story. Data informs the argument, lends credibility, and invites engagement. Persuade decision-makers using the “And-But-Then” narrative.

In this four-week workshop for beginning to mid-level journalists, we will discuss where to find data to support stories, how to analyze and interrogate the data we find, and how to use the And-But-Then argument to tell a persuasive story.