November Grotto Class Bulletin

Skip to first unread message

Lindsey Crittenden

Nov 11, 2015, 5:39:11 PM11/11/15
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.

November:  Chillier days, darker evenings, and the perfect time to take a Grotto class.  We’ve got terrific one-day intensives in putting setting to work in your fiction & memoir; editing your own work; social media; and the personal essay. To register and learn more, scroll down to Note Three or go to  

Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers

From Laura Fraser (Personal Essay: The Monster and the Miracle, Sun., Nov. 22):

Every time I look at my Facebook feed, I find myself overwhelmed with lists of writers’ tips.  Famous writers, dead ones, teachers, bloggers: everyone has a top-ten list of things you should do to become a successful writer. You could spend all the time that you would otherwise actually be writing just reading these writing tips.

The underlying assumption of how-to-write lists —okay, and of this tip—is that there is some right way to write. If only you would get up at 5:00 a.m., meditate for a few minutes, spray tea tree oil around your computer, read a few quotes for inspiration, put black-out curtains on the windows, use a stand-up computer, and play the perfect set list, you would become a successful writer.

These tips reflect, and magnify, the mania for process that affects aspiring writers. At any book reading or online writers’ group, you can anticipate these questions: When do you write? What program do you use? How many pages should it be? How long do you wait to revise? How many drafts do you need to go through? Where do you find your ideas?

All of these questions assume that there are mechanical answers to questions about the writing process. They’re also attempts to avoid the fact that writing is a complicated process–-creative, mysterious, and personal–-that requires hard work with no shortcuts. There are no tricks, no fairy dust sprinkled from best-selling authors, that will help you become a better writer.

There’s only one tip you need about the writing process:  Sit down and write.

Note Two: What We’re Reading Now 

From Meghan Ward (Edit Yourself: How to Make a Good Manuscript Great, Sun., Nov 15; Social Media Bootcamp, Sun., Nov 22): 

I’m reading the Grotto October Book Club’s pick: T. Geronimo Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville. As a book editor, I’m always on the lookout for my pet peeves: GRE-vocabulary words that are overused, characters described by hair and eye color, “talking heads” (dialogue without action or description), and clichéd metaphors--to name a few. My biggest pet peeve is the line, “Tears streamed down my/his/her cheeks.” (Is there no other way to describe someone crying?) 

But Johnson makes none of these errors. Welcome to Braggsville is audacious, funny, tragic, and smart, with a first sentence that goes on for more than a page. (Keep your smartphone nearby so you can google as you read.) The characters are unforgettable, the plot is unpredictable, and the writing is dazzling from the moment “D’aron Little May Davenport” is introduced. Let us all aspire to write with such gusto, and let us start by learning from authors like Johnson, who does it so well.

Note Three: Upcoming Classes

Classes are listed in chronological order, by date of first session, for the next six weeks.  For full descriptions and to enroll, click on each class or go to for the complete catalog.

What would you like us to include in the Grotto Class Bulletin?  What classes would you like to see offered at the Grotto?  What books about writing have been particularly useful for you?  Send your thoughts/comments/kudos & complaints to Lindsey Crittenden at 

Note Five: Subscribing & unsubscribing

And of course, if you'd like to opt out of the Grotto Class Bulletin, you can always do so at, just click on Edit my membership, and then Unsubscribe.

Thanks for reading

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Grotto Class Notes" group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
For more options, visit


Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages