sarah luck pearson
"The only hope for a writer, really, is that some locked door can be finagled open with a small question."
2015 Workshop Starting January 19th! Enroll Now!
January 19th-April 6th, 12-week course, Monday 4:30-6:00
Hein and Co Bookstore, 204 North Main St.,
Jackson, CA, 95642
*(This fee includes print-outs, personal feedback on every piece, a direct breakdown every time you present about how to urge your writing onto the next level. This is the meat of the course: you get me intensely honest and totally there with compassion. I will see your final piece through to your satisfaction. Also, an optional public reading is organized at the conclusion of each workshop).
This writing environment is safe, rigorous, and guaranteed to help you get stories out that will quickly surprise you in their depth and attention to craft. Writing exercises and light reading assignments are aimed at developing the writer's understanding of structure, narrative, and style. Your eye and ear will be honed by keen workshop critique and by exercises designed to help you locate personal material. Careful attention is also paid to toning your writing-routine muscles in order to build a long-term commitment to creative health.
Whether you want to write personal essays, travel pieces, memoir, or literary journalism, the goal is complete one nonfiction piece or a chapter of a book.
At the conclusion of the workshop, we offer a reading to the public. I will help you refine your chosen work. The reading is optional, but highly encouraged. It is a terrific experience to "graduate" your private works to the public. You leave the workshop a writer that has shared your work with the world.... in other words, a professional.
The role of the writer is not to say what all can say,but what we are unable to say."
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. That land mine is me."
Here's a breakdown of how the workshop functions... don't worry, this will all be explained in class...
What to bring to class:
Number 1: Questions… about the Nuts & Bolts and about anything that applies to where you’re at with writing. Besides that, a writing utensil would be stellar, if not a bit obvious. A notebook would be good for any sudden ideas. A folder to keep your handouts, drafts, and other writer’s work. A calendar would be useful for marking any changes we make in writing presentation days and also can be used for your weekly writing schedule. If you’re so inclined to bring treats or beverages, they will never be poorly received by any writer I’ve known….
When you will share your writing:
There are 12 classes and we will workshop 2 student pieces a week. That means that you will get to share your work approximately 3 times within our 12 weeks (some of these will be rewrites). I will pass out a signup sheet where you can fill your name on the dates you choose as a guide. The last workshop will be a public reading at the St. George Hotel where you can invite family and friends to hear your final piece.
How to distribute your work:
For Weekly Writing Exercises: Time permitting, students may share their weekly writing assignments. But these assignments are for you personally, privately.
For several reasons, we will not be reading our longer works aloud in class (Weekly class exercises may be read). In my opinion, reading pieces is a waste of precious workshop time. Nonfiction, in general, is not conceived as an oral art form. Also, reading—or performing—one’s work can make some writers very nervous (me especially). Therefore, we will read 2-3 pieces at home every week and workshop—or discuss—the writer’s work together. You can either bring copies of your work to class and distribute them the week before, or you can email the piece to the workshop participants. If you choose to email, you must send your work no later than the Friday after class so you give all of us enough time to read and comment on your work. If you have any difficulties with life or writing, please call or email me. We can always figure something out!
How to offer feedback:
“The great Murderer of the Imagination—a world of unceasing, unkind, dinky, prissy, criticalness!”—Brenda Ueland
We all come here tender and sensitive about our writing. And so, the most essential and sacred part of the workshop is establishing a trusting, safe, and professional environment for exploring our craft. We need to feel free to write from our guts, to record what often can be too uncomfortable for us to speak. So, while we are all going to be critics, we must never present our feedback as critical. By this, I mean that we should not judge the content—even if it offends—but rather stay rigorously focused on offering support and suggestions on a writer’s style. Writing is a scary thing sometimes, naked, inviting a million critical voices from our pasts. We have assembled here to dispel those voices, roll up our sleeves, and get a few words down that make us feel closer to capturing the stories of this life...
Your first experience of another writer’s work here will be at home. I ask that you mark up their draft with reactions and, at the end, write a commentary (which you can email or give to them). This will help them later with their rewrite and also remind you about what comments you’d like to make during the workshop when we go page by page through their draft. Remember that writers also very much need to know what works, not just what could be improved. A star or an exclamation point in the margin next to a successful sentence can do wonders to pointing a writer to do more of the same in the future. Feel free to mark spelling or punctuation on these drafts, but we will not discuss the annoyances of spelling during the workshops (Shakespeare couldn’t spell, copy editors are paid to do this, spell-check exists for a reason, and nitpicking can really squash a creative soul!) Punctuation is sometimes addressed but only as it relates to style. Keep in mind that a writer often needs to know most of all when you focused or felt something and when you left the page…
So, I urge you to, 1) Offer what works about the piece and, 2) What can be improved. It's that's simple.
What to expect of Assignments:
There is one daily and three weekly tasks:
1) Daily morning pages: From The Artist's Way, 10 minutes of totally unedited writing free flow. Don't reread.
2) Weekly Artist’s Date: Restock your pond by taking yourself on a date designed to prod, inspire, loosen, transport. What did you want to be when you grew up...list five vocations and think of an activity that could go with each. Start there.
3) Weekly reading
4) Weekly writing exercise
Your weekly reading assignment will come from one of the books that you ordered. I may also bring you reading assignments from other sources. I also will offer you writing exercises that can be very useful. However, if you’re burning to write a particular story, you are free to workshop that material. Still, you might consider using some of your workshop time to present some of your writing assignments—they can sometimes pull you outside of the writing boxes we all struggle to escape because the stakes seems to be lower with exercises.
But whether the writing requirement sounds too big or too small, I do ask that you attempt to present each class about 1,250 words--- that’s approximately 5 pages with 250 words per page, double-spaced. MICROSOFT WORD is what is the common language, so please get access to this program. No fancy fonts please. We will only have time for 5 pages per person per week as we will devote much of our time to workshopping your longer pieces. Also, in order to give each writer enough time, I would ask that you try not to workshop more than 15 pages (3,750 words) each time. Of course, if a story or chapter is longer and must be read in its entirety, please just let me know so I can adjust the schedule. And again, if you are struggling with your life or writing, please call or email me. We can always figure something out!
What to expect of me:
I am here, for 12 weeks (and it often grows past that), as your personal writing coach. You will each have some very specific needs, and I very much want to address them. If the workshop is somehow not addressing them, or you are struggling with an issue, please talk to me—pull me aside after class, call or email me. I promise to do my best to make this an adventure in your storytelling….
How To Get There:
Hein & CO Bookstore
204 North Main Street
Jackson, CA 95642
A Letter to Writers Considering Taking the Workshop:
Perhaps we had a writing workshop or private coaching in the past, or maybe you have not formally written in a group. Perhaps you are seeking the framework of a class, that wonderful corset of having to deliver. Or maybe you seek a private, intensive format where, either by email and phone or in person, we work one-on-one to develop your project. Or maybe you are considering coaching because there is a subject that demands to be written, there is a ripeness to your life that lends itself to memoir, or writing itself has for too long been a dream deferred.
Whatever the impulse, the empty page looms as a scary, exhilarating, seductive place that has you whispering at odd hours, yes, I should write. I must write. I am distracted by the stories in my head. I let stories out when I write, though they don't come out as I intend. Moreover, I seem to have so much stored up inside me that when I speak, I am spilling over with narrative: I recount, therefore I am.
Working together, whether in a workshop or privately, is about you telling and you risking. It is about an utterance, a thing you say to yourself, that becomes a mental note, a nascent story, and soon it must be written. This is about all those times you say-- or someone hears you and says-- this should be a story.You've got to get this out. But how?
For nearly twenty years, I have helped students answer that question. Some have been professional writers needing an edit, others had not written since they were criticized in the fifth grade. I've overseen books into print, screenplays into production, and essays into newspapers. And more often than not, these writings came from beginners. Because of this, I am deeply committed to the notion that good writing is based on skills and these skills can be learned.
One student with a knack for exaggeration said about working with me: "Sarah Luck Pearson can get a rock to write." But I know that every new and experienced writer coming my way was already a sophisticated raconteur, or could see the patterns in things, or could spot one salient detail about a person or a place that spoke vividly for the whole. It was merely getting them to assemble the pieces of this craft, and bit by bit, that's what we do: Break a story down so that you have the future skills to D.I.Y a compelling narrative.
At the end of the process, maybe you'll sell a piece, maybe you'll have recorded your life story for generations to learn from, maybe you'll have found a whole new creative outlet. Maybe all three. But whatever direction this writing adventure takes, you will have developed an intimate connection to the structure, characters, details, and scenes that were once floating in your head and now offer you both power and immense relief to see them captured on that once empty page.
The hard part? Well, it's always about getting started. But that's over.
You are not browsing. You are preparing to tell a story.
And you are already in Chapter One...
"The role of the writer is not to say what all can say, but what we are unable to say."
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. That land mine is me."
Here is where you bring a project, a panicked deadline, a wish to have a personal writing mentor, an out-of-town (or cyber as it's called today) desire to take a class from the comfort of your home, and I make it fit to you. Together, we will outline the course you need to meet your goals. The more I know about your skills and project goals, the more this will evolve. This is catering at its best: You want to write a piece now, have a skilled reader to give feedback and see the next few edits through, than this is your best choice. You have a pressing, coronary, deadline, a writer's block that feels like cement in your left frontal cortex, you can't see how you can possibly tell this tangled story without a clear-headed, skilled hand to guide you out of the basement and into the comfortable space of telling....
Private coaching is perfect for all these natural writing cycles. I still love the quote from the movie "Being There": "Yes. In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then comes fall and winter. But we do get spring and summer again."
I will work closely with you in your winters. I will make sure you see a nascent bud....
Summary of Fees:
Please contact me about the different tailored programs for individual students. Basic private fees are an emailed piece is $5 a page with a follow-up consultation on the phone or in person of $40 an hour, with an hour minimum. Travel time is added for those wanting a private workshop in their homes. But best to call and see what you project or desire entails... Contact.