JUNE Grotto Class Bulletin: Summer classes online!

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Lindsey Crittenden

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May 17, 2016, 1:05:10 PM5/17/16
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Class Bulletin

SUMMER CLASSES ARE NOW ONLINE!  SPRING 3-MINUTE READINGS ON June 3!

 This summer, treat yourself to (and boost your writing career with) a class at the Grotto.  We’ve got highly-rated workshops in memoir, fiction, and poetry — as well as new offerings in journalism, science writing, and the long & short of sentence style.  Whether you’re hankering for a multi-week workshop or a one-day intensive, you’ll find it in one of our top-ranked classes, all taught by published professionals.  Learn more at https://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/upcoming-classes/ or scroll down to Note Three.  

For details on the upcoming 3-minute readings, see Note Four.

Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers

From Cheryl Ossola (The Long and the Short of It: Sentence-Level Style and Editing, 5 sessions starting Tues., June 21)

In fueling writing, observation is as important as imagination. To amp up your observational skills, take a cue from Jeanette Winterson’s essay “Art Objects” (from the book of the same name). Frustrated by her inability to appreciate fine art, Winterson decided to look at a single painting for one hour. She writes, “[. . . A]rt is an extraordinarily faithful transmitter. Our job is to keep our receiving equipment in good working order.” A writer friend and I decided to try it. Our ground rules: no talking, no taking notes. We could sit, stand, walk around, but our eyes were to stay on that painting. For one hour. Go.

We chose a Cezanne landscape, a forest empty of people (so we wouldn’t invent stories about them, interfering with whatever transmission otherwise might arise). An hour later we burst into conversation, startled by what we’d seen: a patch of yellow, barely discernible at first, became prominent and sinister, suggesting fire; a path emerged in woods we’d thought impenetrable. Such deep observations shouldn’t be limited to fine art. Wherever you are, slow down, look, and discoveries will be at hand. Make this a regular practice and your writing will become richer.


From Laura Fraser (Your Inner Geek: Writing about Medicine, Biotech, and other Sciencey Stuff, 4 sessions starting Thurs., June 23; The Ultimate Pitch: How to Write a Book Proposal, 1 session Sun., July 10)

I got my best writing tip this year when I went to visit an astrologer. She told me that rather than thinking about what I should be doing all the time, I should just do what I’m doing. That turned out to be important, because I always feel like I ought to be writing a novel or an earth-shattering essay or a piece of journalism that will win me a Pulitzer Prize. But the reality about making your living as a writer these days is that you can’t always be doing those glamorous projects. Sometimes you have to make money. So lately I’ve been writing stories about biotechnology, and decided to take my astrologer’s advice. Instead of approaching it like a task that would be necessary but boring, I became fascinated with how cool biotechnology is, and challenged by how to communicate complicated science in straightforward, genial prose. I’ve never been a science geek, but it turns out writing about science is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I’m not apologizing for not working on something that will land me on the NYT bestseller list. As my yoga teacher once said about getting his head down to the floor, I’ve been there, and there’s nothing there.

Note Two: What We’re Reading Now 

From Rachel Howard (Gesture Writing: What Writers Can Learn from Artists About Capturing Life on the Page, 1 session Sat., June 25; Mega Memoir Manuscript Workshop, 6 sessions starting July 2)

I’m halfway through Rachel Cusk’s Outline, and it’s everything the rave reviews promised.  I first read Cusk in 2004, when I loved her novel The Lucky Ones for its bitingly unsentimental portrayal of motherhood, an aspect she took to new degrees in her later memoir A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother Outline is something stranger: a novel about a woman writer who goes to Athens during a very hot summer to teach a writing conference, and ends up listening to—and relaying to the reader—the life stories of random people she encounters, starting with the thrice-divorced Greek millionaire she meets on the plane.

The narrator’s spare retelling of these autobiographies—rendered almost without dialogue—quickly becomes an examination of the way we construct, come to believe in, and often become trapped within, our self-made narratives.  Bonus for the working writer: the book becomes a revelatory mediation on story itself.  “Reality might be described as the eternal equipoise of positive and negative, but in this story the two poles had become dissociated and ascribed separate, warring identities,” the narrator reflects on the Greek playboy’s life tale.  Despite the layers of investigation in Outline, there’s nothing “meta” about the reading experience.  Every paragraph offers a startlingly articulated truth, or re-electrifies an old cliché.  Absorbing. 

Note Three: Upcoming Classes

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


Sun., May 29
9:00 a.m. - noon
$85 
 

Sin and Syntax Workshop: Grammar Brush-up for Writers (with Constance Hale)

Sat., June 11
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$60
Saturdays, June 18-July 9
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
$350
Tues., June 21-July 19
6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
$275
Thurs., June 23-July 14
6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
$295
Wed., July 13-Aug. 3
6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
$250
Sat., July 23 & Aug. 23
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$225
Sun., Aug. 21
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$145

Note Four:  News & Updates

Mark your calendar for an evening of fun & fast-paced readings, coming up Friday, June 3 at Book Passage in the Ferry Building.  Grotto students from spring classes will read for 3 minutes each.  Come out, support your peers, and celebrate good writing!  More info at http://www.bookpassage.com/event/san-francisco-writers-grotto-3-minute-reads-san-francisco

If you are receiving this newsletter twice, please be patient as we move to a new e-mailing system.  We will never use your email for anything other than Grotto correspondence you have requested.  

We love hearing from you!  Send your news, feedback, & suggestions to Lindsey Crittenden at lindseyec...@gmail.com 


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