Here’s the thing… I’m the writer that I am because of three teachers. The first was at a summer writing camp that my mom sent me to when I was in seventh grade. I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but I do remember a bunch of the exercises she taught us. I still have the manuscripts I turned in with her notes on them. She shaped my fiction by giving me the tools to critically evaluate technique at an early age.
When I was in college, I went to the Center for Puppetry Arts and interned there. Peter Hart was in charge of the program and the way he taught puppetry introduced me to the idea that if you learn the techniques so you can do them without thinking, then they won’t get in your way when you’re trying to do the art. He taught me to examine process and break it apart until I understood it thoroughly enough that could explain it to someone else.
In 2005, I took Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp and it absolutely shaped me as a writer. Regardless of anything else, this man is a brilliant teacher and gave me tools to understand what I had been doing instinctively. I went into the workshop feeling like I backed into good stories by accident and came out feeling like I understood structure and could write them on purpose.
So now we come to the classes I’m teaching.
A big part of the reason I’m teaching is because I profoundly believe that learning to understand the process gives you the ability to level up. So I’m trying to structure these courses to give you tools that you can wield the same way I learned the principles of puppetry under Peter Hart. I want to help people understand the technique so that those techniques don’t get in the way of making the art.
I teach the class online because I know that not everyone can take six weeks off, or even a week off work, much less afford to travel somewhere. I want the darn thing to be affordable because when I needed this most was when I didn’t have a lot of disposable income. Since people have varied schedules I teach my short story class in two formats: eight weeks or a weekend intensive
The eight week class is Wednesday nights and is good for people who need time to absorb ideas and a little more time to practise them between sessions.
The intensive is a weekend course that covers exactly the same material and is good for people who tend to overthink things.
Both have exactly the same content and the same classroom time. The only quantitative difference is the amount of homework. In the eight-week course, you’re responsible for reading and critiquing the assignments of all of your classmates. In the weekend intensive, I use a rotating schedule so you only have to read two classmates’s work per session. I’ll be honest that I think the intensive works better, but it is intense.
Now… the waiting list.
So, I schedule these when I have a hole in my calendar. That means I often don’t know that I have time to do it until about a month before the session. There are only eight spots in each class. When those fill, everyone who registers after that goes to a waiting list.
When I offer the next class, I give the waiting list first crack at registration. This is why sometimes the classes have sold out before registration opens. So if you want to get into a class, make an attempt to register because then you’re on the waiting list. Sometimes I only offer a class to the waiting list, because my goal is to get everyone who wants to take the class into a session.
Why? Because a workshop made a difference for me.