Tag Archives: Fiction Writing Intensive

Coming Out of Traction

First, a few announcements this first Friday in June: Summer writing classes at the Grotto are now open for enrollment.  I’m excited about teaching a weekend workshop in August, on using existing models to craft short fiction.  Check out all upcoming classes here. I’ve started planning on another new class, Developing the Memoir, at  UC Berkeley Extension this fall.  Watch for details. We’ve extended the deadline for the Summer Fiction Intensive at UC Berkeley Extension!  Get that writing sample out this weekend to make the 6/10 cut-off! (Yes, the online catalog says 6/3, but it’s really 6/10 .) What a … Continue reading

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Try, Try Again

Whatever works for you, I tell my students.  There’s no one way to write, no hard-and-fast rule that guarantees success, as much as we want one.  And yet, certain koan-like statements have made it onto my bulletin board or refrigerator.  My current favorite, from Samuel Beckett quoted by Colum McCann a year or so ago in the New York Times:  “Try. Fail.  Try again.  Fail better.” In my writing classes at UC Berkeley Extension, I emphasize process, the messy trajectory of moving a piece from first draft to polished prose.  So, last July, when Jane Anne Staw mentioned “process” as … Continue reading

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Voices in Our Heads

This week’s post follows up on last week’s discussion of Jane Anne Staw’s talk on the five components of a writing practice, given at the Fiction Writing Intensive this past July at UC Berkeley Extension.  Last week, I wrote about her tips on creating a safe place – both external and internal – for writing.  Today, we’ll look at the next component:  No Uninvited Guests. Some years ago, in grad school, as a T.A. preparing to teach my first class, I went a little nuts.  I spent months reading every book I could find on craft, scouring anthologies for the … Continue reading

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A Safe Place

A few  weeks ago, at the Fiction Writing Intensive offered by UC Berkeley Extension, writer Jane Anne Staw spoke of the five components of a writing practice. The first thing you need, she said, is a place.  A real, physical location where you feel the most relaxed, the least anxious.  She asked the students where they wrote. A home office. A chair in the kitchen, as the morning light moves across the table. At night, after dinner, when the house is quiet. A parked car. “Good.”  Jane Anne nodded.  “Whatever works for you.  It’s important not to judge.” I thought … Continue reading

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Two weeks ago, I heard Daniel Coshnear talk on “The Balanced Life.”  It was the final day of UC Berkeley Extension’s Fiction Writing Intensive, and we’d gathered four panelists to talk about Where to Go From Here:  Sustaining the Momentum.  The idea was to give the students – with varying degrees of writing experience – some practical and inspirational ideas for moving their work forward. Mimi Albert, a writer and longtime UC Extension insructor, talked about online classes.   Heather Cameron gave an overview on publishing.  Deborah Lichtman covered the pros and cons of MFA programs.  And Dan talked about making … Continue reading

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