Tag Archives: UC Berkeley Extension

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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All You Need Is Love

I’ve been thinking in terms of grand, declarative statements:  Writing fiction is an act of love.  Fiction depends upon empathy.  Writing fiction is a moral act.  Fiction is amoral.  Fiction is true.  Fiction depends on lies.  Beauty is truth, and truth, beauty. Etc. I’ve been thinking of short stories with clear, dramatized change: “Araby” by James Joyce; “How Far She Went” (Mary Hood); “Roman Fever” (Edith Wharton); “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner.  I’ve been remembering, and re-reading, stories with unsympathetic main characters and /or situations of rape, drug abuse, murder:  Denis Johnson’s “Work” and Grace Paley’s “The Little Girl”; Flannery … Continue reading

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How Much Is Too Much, Part II

Last week, I blogged about the quandary of how to respond to student work. Here, a few writing teachers I admire share their approaches. Laurie Ann Doyle teaches creative writing at UC Berkeley Extension. Her story “Restraint” will be published in Midway Journal  this summer. Constance Hale, author of Sin and Syntax and the forthcoming Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, has taught narrative nonfiction writing at UC Berkeley Extension, Boston University, and Harvard University. Wendy Tokunaga teaches fiction at University of San Francisco and Stanford Continuing Ed.  The author of three published novels, she has work in two new anthologies, Madonna … Continue reading

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Tryouts

I’ve always loved the form of the personal essay.  As a teenager, I loved reading Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines, largely because of the personal essays in their pages by writers such as Mary Cantwell.  A Google search leads me to a blog called EAT, “a tribute to Mary Cantwell” by Julia Reed, which mentions Cantwell’s columns for Mademoiselle as being about the pleasures of meals taken alone or with family and friends—but that’s not how I remember them.  I wasn’t particularly interested in food in high school, when I consumed Cantwell’s essays, but I do recognize Reed’s appreciation of Cantwell’s … Continue reading

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Why I Teach

Last Monday, at the second-to-last meeting of my Writing Skills Workshop class at UC Berkeley Extension, one of the students said, “I don’t even want to think about saying good-bye to everyone.”  Her large, expressive eyes opened even wider, and she shook her head.  “It’s been so … intimate.” Another student had just asked where to go for feedback after the class ends. “We’ll get to that next week,” I said, as I always set aside time during a final class session to talk about finding a writing community, sustaining a writing practice, and other ways to keep going. But … Continue reading

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