August Class Bulletin: Fall Courses Online!

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Lindsey Crittenden

Aug 18, 2015, 4:50:17 PM8/18/15
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.

Fall catalogue is now online!   Sign up now to benefit from terrific new workshops, intensives, and courses in fiction, memoir, screenwriting, podcasting & radio, personal essay, freelancing, poetry, and much more.  Classes meet multi-weekly and in one-day and weekend intensives, and all are taught by writers published in the genre they’re teaching.  Scroll down to Note Four or go to  

 Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers

From Lorraine Sanders (Radio and Podcasting 101, with Julia Scott and Grace Rubinstein, Sunday, Sept. 20):

When it comes to asking great interview questions, less is almost always more. 

It's a trick journalists know well: the less you say, the better the answers you're likely to get. This tried-and-true tactic can work wonders in a recorded interview that you're planning to use in a podcast. Devise simple, straightforward questions. Don't feel like you need to add fillers or an explanation of why you're asking what you're asking. Ask and then wait for the answer. Use simple follow up questions like, "Can you tell me why?" or "Oh, wow, I'd love it if you could share an example." An uncluttered approach to interviewing is the fastest path to clear answers that let the person you're interviewing shine. 

Note Two: Our Latest Favorite Book on Writing 

From Anisse Gross (Freelancing Bootcamp, Sun., Sept. 20): 

Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird was one of the first books I read about the writing life. It’s an extremely accessible text that covers not only the task of writing, but also the task of living as a writer. The title is based on a childhood episode: “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’” This advice is particularly useful for freelance writers who are often facing this exact predicament – the looming deadline. From advice about “shitty first drafts” to the anxieties surrounding publication, Bird by Bird is a friendly companion to all writers who feel stranded in the solitary task they face.

Note Three: What We’re Reading Now

From Constance Hale (Sin and Syntax Workshop:  Grammar Brush-up for Writers, Sat., Sept. 12):

Each month we in the Grotto Book Club pick a book to discuss.  A recent choice was Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.  I’ve been a Doerr fan since reading his memoir Four Seasons in Rome. His descriptive passages make clear why he is known as a nature writer. He crafts sentences that are at once stark and stirring, often availing himself of unusual verbs that carry a beautiful precision. (He and I once emailed discussion over his use of career, a great verb that most people avoid in favor of careen—not understanding that the two verbs have distinctly different denotations.)  Here’s an example of a Doerr classic, from All the Light We Cannot See:  “Rain purls from cloud to roof to eave.” Most mortals would have used Rain falls there. Rain purls is unexpected and perfect. The first, most common definition of to purl is to make a certain stitch in knitting. The second is “to flow with a swirling motion and babbling sound, as of a stream or river.” That’s what makes the verb so charming: it describes water, clearly, but brings to mind the curling, U-shaped stitch.

Note Four: 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.

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Wednesdays, September 23 — November 11

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Thursdays, September 24; October 1 and 8

Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Date: Sunday, September 27

Note Five: Hearing from You

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 Six: 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.
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