January Class Bulletin

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Lindsey Crittenden

Jan 14, 2016, 6:09:58 PM1/14/16
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Class Bulletin

Welcome to our monthly e-newsletter including tips about writing, our favorite books about writing, what we're reading now, and the latest news about our classes.  

2016 is here, and winter classes at the Grotto have begun — from terrific intensives in getting unstuck, creating a writing habit, writing for social change, and harvesting ideas for short fiction to multi-week workshops in memoir, screenwriting, short stories, dramatic emotion in fiction, and much more. Classes fill fast, so sign up now.   To learn more and register, scroll down to Note Four or go to http://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/upcoming-classes.  

Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers

From Louise Nayer (The Art of Memoir: Drawing Readers Into Your World, 2 sessions starting Sat., Jan 23)

Writing a difficult scene — of an assault, a break-up, or a death — can cause brain-freeze. The language can sound stilted and distant. Instead of going more deeply into the scene, you might decide to clean the house or fold your laundry. How do you re-enter the scene? One tip is to write for three minutes without ceasing, starting with a word or two central to the location:  barn, 14th Street, or BART train.  By describing the physical place — or doing a word cluster around the word itself — you’ll be taken out of the difficulty of painful memory.  Another tip is to open a book and grab a word or two from each page. Though the word “tractor” initially might not spark anything—perhaps a memory of visiting a farm as a child can work as a lead-in. Focusing on words themselves—whether from the location or from a book—helps you distance yourself from heavy material and also allows you to play with language and remember why you love to write.


Note Two: What We’re Reading Now 

From Meron Hadero (Truth in Fiction:  How to Use History and Current Events to Deepen Setting in Your Fiction, 2 sessions starting Sat., Jan. 30): 

Last week was Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday (she would have been 125), and in honor of her, I decided to reread Their Eyes Were Watching God.   I’ve read this novel once before as a junior in high school living in Gainesville, Florida, which is about one and a half hours north of Eatonville.  Gainesville is a college town that loves football, but just beyond its borders is Hurston’s South, with its “mucky” Everglades and a harsh landscape that shapes how people live, their options, their obstacles.  My question as I read will be this: What kinds of tensions build between setting, character, and desire to shape this narrative? These are some of the dynamics we’ll be looking at in my upcoming class, both in our reading and in student work.

Note Three: Our Latest Favorite Book On Writing

From Xandra Castleton (Screenwriting Workshop, 8 weeks beginning Mon., Feb 8)

I recently pulled a book off my shelf while updating my lesson plans for my upcoming screenwriting course and decided that it's a book I should read once a year.  It's not a textbook, but a well-organized and easy to read collection of nuggets of wisdom from the film industry's top screenwriters called The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters — Inside Secrets from Hollywood’s Top Writers (2nd edition, 2011, edited by Karl Iglesias ). Among the twenty screenwriters tapped for useful tidbits are a few whose advice I already mine for my classes  - and for my own inspiration  - such as Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump). The advice is divided in six parts: Passion, Creativity, Discipline, Storycraft, Marketing and The Four P's (Patience, Perseverence, Passion and Practice) and touches on everything from time management to research, to pitching, networking and handling rejection.  I like that I can pick it up and flip to a relevant section and get a little dose of inspiration, a different perspective or a well-needed slap of reality in just a few moment's time. 

Iglesias sprinkles dozens of inspirational quotes throughout the book, quoting everyone from Tolstoy ("Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul and shows to people these secrets which are common to all") to Capra ("The whole thing is, you've got to make them care about somebody"). It's an easy and entertaining read for anyone interested in the intricacies of the screenwriting life.

Note Four: Upcoming Classes

Classes are listed in chronological order, by date of first session, up through the next six weeks.  For full descriptions and to enroll, click on each class or go to http://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/upcoming-classesfor the complete catalog.

10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Saturday, January 16 & Sunday, February 7
Course fee: $190 
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sunday, January 17
Course fee: $75 
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Saturdays, January 23 & 30
Course fee: $150

10:30 am - 4:30 pm (Saturday)

1:30 pm - 4:30 pm (Sunday)

Saturday, January 23 & Sunday, January 24

Course fee:  $225

Writing for Social Change (with Jessica Pishko)

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 23

6:30 pm -9:00 pm

Sundays, January 24, 31; February 21, 28; March 6 (no meetings Superbowl Sunday & Valentine’s Day) 

Course fee: $325

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Mondays, February 8, 22, 29; March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4 (no class Presidents’ Day) 
Course fee: $540 
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 30 & Sunday, January 31
Course fee: $285
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 30 & Saturday, February 20
Course fee: $150  
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sunday, January 31
Course fee: $125 
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Mondays, February 1, 8, 22, 29; March 7 & 14
Course fee: $395 
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Mondays, February 1, 8, 22, 29; March 7 & 14 (no meeting Presidents’ Day)
Course fee: $395  
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Tuesdays, February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 1 & 8
Course fee: $395
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Thursdays, February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 3 & 10 
Course fee: $395
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Thursday, February 4
Course fee: $85 
Course fee: $75 

10:30 am – 4:30 pm

Saturday, February 20


10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday, February 21

Note Five: Hearing from You

We’d love to hear your news, as well as any feedback on writing books that have helped you and suggestions for the Class Bulletin.  Send your thoughts/comments/kudos & complaints to Lindsey Crittenden at lindseyec...@gmail.com 

Note Six: Subscribing & unsubscribing

If this is the first time you’ve received this Bulletin, and you didn’t go through the google group, that means you gave us your email contact in a class evaluation.  Please take the time now to officially subscribe to ensure receiving future Bulletins.  Go to http://groups.google.com/group/grotto-class-notes  

And of course, if you'd like to opt out of the Grotto Class Bulletin, you can always do so at http://groups.google.com/group/grotto-class-notes  Just click on Edit my membership, and then Unsubscribe.

Thanks for reading!

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