March Grotto Class Bulletin

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Lindsey Crittenden

Mar 17, 2016, 4:31:56 PM3/17/16

Class Bulletin

SPRING CLASSES ONLINE!  Sign up now as classes fill quickly.  Scroll down to Note Four or go to

And be sure to check out this month’s writing tip (on interviewing) and reading recommendations from upcoming teachers.  

Watch for our updated improved class bulletin, coming soon.

Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers

From Jessica Pishko (Narrative Journalism, 1 session Sat., Mar 26; Writing for Social Change, 1 session Sat., April 16):

As a writer of nonfiction, I am always thinking about how I can bring life to a story. In that way, nonfiction is just like fiction but with an additional constraint – everything needs to be true.  Therefore, writing nonfiction begins in the reporting stage. As I interview people, I watch the way they talk and act. I often try to spend time with them engaged in small talk or a meal so I can observe their mannerisms. It’s also important to write these details down, even if you don't think they are particularly important at the time – you never know when a character will be vital to your story as you revise. For scenery, I now usually take a video on my iPhone so that I can also capture the ambient noise, like street sounds or wind. And if I can’t be on location in person, I try to elicit as much detail as I can from others who were present at the time.

Note Two: What We’re Reading Now 

From Elizabeth Bernstein (The Pang in Your Heart Short Story Workshop, 8 sessions beginning Mon., April 18) 

I have been on a reading jag while I finish my short story collection and have been reading whatever I want (not books specifically designed to inspire my own writing) to broaden my imagination. As I finish each book, I jot down a list called, "What can I learn from this?" I just read three wildly different books, all of which had lessons to impart in different ways.  The Underminer by Mike Alba, a short, comic novel written in monologue, was funny but lacked a real plot. Yet I was intrigued by how Alba dropped seeds that he picked up in later episodes. That was my note to myself: what seeds have I planted that I can revisit in later stories?  Next, reading Lucky Alan — dark, metaphorical stories by Jonathan Lethem — I was struck by the surreal turns these stories take, and reminded myself that in fiction, you can go anywhere and do anything. That house cat in my story? It can start talking if I want it to. The third book I read was The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, a dense novel about politics, art and friendship. I found the relationship triangle she portrayed fodder for my own narrative exploration. 

Three books, chosen at random, all with lessons to impart. Think about posing this question after each book you read: What can I learn from this? Make a list and see what you discover. 

Note Three: Our Latest Favorite Book on Writing

From Emily Wolahan (Polish That Poem & Submit It! 1 session, Sat. April 9; The Craft of Poetry, 5 sessions beginning Tues., April 19) 

There are many books containing poetry prompts or essays on how to be inspired, but for me the best books on writing poetry are books about poetry itself. Not how-to manuals, but inquiries. In that vein, The Language of Inquiry by Lyn Hejinian is an incredible read. She challenges you to reconsider what a poem is and the result is an incredible engagement with our craft and thought. 

Note Four: 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 for the complete catalog.

Thursdays, April 14, 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19

6:30 - 9 p.m.


Sat., April 16

1-4 p.m.

Saturdays, April 30; May 7, 14, 21
3 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
$220 ($200 early bird before April 15)

Thanks for reading!

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