Hi everyone. How are you doing these days? Surviving? Possibly thriving? Looking without and within and taking stock? Do you feel yourself changing in ways you didn’t expect? Maybe windows are blowing open in your mind and heart the way they are in mine.
One thing certain in a world of upheaval is that storytelling —by artists in all forms—is alive and well. What stories are you turning to for comfort or revelation or laughter these days? What stories are you telling your partner, your friends, your family and your children?
What are the stories you’re telling yourself? Those are the ones that most interest me. Times when everything feels unsteady and in flux lead to new artistry. Uncertainty and curiosity can propel you into the work in ways that complacency can’t. (I spent last winter writing poems that shock me with their fierceness. And then I wrote a screenplay. And now I’m writing a graphic novel.)
It’s all interesting, a friend of mine once said about life. Even when everything sucks, I’m just so interested to see what will happen. These words speak to me as a creative writing teacher. It never fails to stun me what happens in the alchemy of a creative writing room. Give a roomful of humans the same ten minutes and the same prompt, and listen to the ten wildly different stories that emerge.
Finding and nurturing someone’s creative spark is a privilege and honor, and it’s what I most love as a teacher. I’ve just scheduled a whole slew of fall one-day workshops, including a new one, “The Gift of Words.” Take a look at them and see if any are of interest to you. They’re all taught via Zoom and I’d love to see you in one!
All workshops are limited to ten participants (a minimum of five is needed to run the class). Cost: $75 per workshop. To register, send payment via Venmo to Alison-McGhee-1, or via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org (use the Send to a Friend option or I’ll be charged a fee), or by personal check (contact me for a mailing address). Be sure to note which class you’re registering for. For specific questions, email me at email@example.com.
NOTE: I welcome ALL writers and respect everyone’s individual financial circumstances. Sometimes, when under duress, it’s even more important to feed your creative soul. Hence, if you’re broke (I’ve been there), let me know and we’ll work out a pay-as-you’re-able fee, from $10 to $75. No questions asked, no proof required.
The Art of Writing Picture Books
Do you love picture books? Have you ever wanted to write one? Are you curious how to go about it? Welcome to my one-day picture book writing workshop! In our intensive, fun class, we’ll deconstruct some classic picture books, talk about ideas for new ones, and go through all the nuts and bolts, such as how long can a picture book be? What’s the relationship between writer and artist? How do you write a picture book that children will love and adults won’t mind reading ten thousand times in a row? We’ll come up with ideas, draft a basic outline for one or more picture books, and leave time for Q&A. This class is designed for people of any writing ability or experience – all are welcome. Guaranteed to be illuminating, exhilarating and fun.
Date and Time: Tuesday, October 12, 7-10 EST, 6-9 pm CST, 5-8 MST, 4-7 PST. $75 (see payment info above).
The Transformation of Trauma
Are you haunted by the memory of trauma? Maybe someone sexually assaulted you, or abused you over a long period of time. Maybe as a child, or adult, you struggled through domestic violence or emotional manipulation. If your life is compromised by these memories, and you’re looking for a way to work through them and find a happier and more peaceful life, welcome to this workshop.
The making of art, in all its many and varied forms, can be a profound way to make sense of past experiences that were unfair, unwanted, and cruel. We’ll do some brief writings, read and discuss a few short readings, and hopefully find ways to unlock your own power.
Date and Time: Friday, October 15, 2-5 pm EST, 1-4 pm CST, 12-3 pm MST, 11-2 pm PST. Free.
Note: This class is always free.
The Freedom of Form
When you’re stuck in a piece of writing, feeling lifeless, what do you do? Grind through, hoping desperately that a window will open? Give up? Take a break? Declare yourself a failure and slink off to drown your sorrows? I’ve taken a shot at all these methods, and none of them work as well for me as re-framing the work itself. I give myself seemingly arbitrary rules to work within, e.g., Write this scene as a series of text messages, or, Write this novel as a series of one-hundred-word passages.
The freedom of assigned form is real, people, and it’s why novels usually have chapters, and picture books are usually under 500 words. It’s why enduring forms of poetry like haiku and sonnets and sestinas are still alive and thriving. In this workshop, which is designed for writers in all genres, we will play with form as a way to open up your writing, your mind and your heart to the freedom and creativity inherent in all art. This class is designed for people of any writing ability or experience – all are welcome. Guaranteed to be illuminating, exhilarating and fun.
Bonus: Weekly writing prompts will be emailed to you for one month following the end of class.
Date and Time: Sunday, October 17, 2-5 EST, 1-4 pm CST, 12-3 MST, 11 am-2 pm PST. $75.
A Novel Idea: Ways to Coax that Book Into Reality
Is there a book within you that wants to be written? Stories that want to be told? Do ideas and an urge to write them out come to you at work, while walking the dog, cooking dinner, folding laundry, and in dreams? Are you frustrated because you don’t know how to begin, or how to keep going once you’ve begun? Welcome to this workshop, drawn from my own experience as a novelist, in which every single book presents its own specific building-block challenges.
Through a series of in-class prompts, discussion of creative process –both general and specific to you– and intuitive and practical analysis, we’ll come up with an individual book-writing practice plan for each participant. Note: This class will be helpful for anyone who wants to write a book, regardless of genre or subject matter.
Date and Time: Saturday, November 13, 11-2 EST, 10-1 pm CST, 9-noon MST, 8-11 am PST. $75.
Bonus: Weekly writing prompts will be emailed to you for one month following the end of class.
The Gift of Words
Think of the people you love in your life. Picture them in your mind. Recall conversations you’ve had with them, times you’ve watched them in motion. The sound of their voice, their laughter, tears, songs. The way they touch their pets, their children, their flowers. The way they touch you. Everything about the people you love is specific and particular and unique to them, and so is the way you love them.
In this three-hour workshop, you will write three gifts of words to the people you love. Each will be different, each will be a one of a kind gift specific to one singular human: a gift of the heart from you to them. A beautiful gift for a special occasion or no occasion.
Day and Time: Saturday, November 20, 11-2 EST, 10-1 pm CST, 9-noon MST, 8-11 am PST. $75.
Building a Story
NOTE: THE NEW SESSION OF BUILDING A STORY FILLED IMMEDIATELY, BUT I’LL BE SCHEDULING MORE SESSIONS IN THE FUTURE. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE ME TO ADD YOUR NAME TO THE WAITLIST FOR THIS ONE.
Dates and time: Wednesday evenings, October 13-November 10, 2021.
Time: 6-9 pm, CST. (Feel free to bring your dinner to class!)
Enrollment: Limited to eight.
Cost: $400 via Venmo, Paypal, or personal check. Venmo: @Alison-McGhee-1. Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org (be sure to use the “send to a friend” option).
Questions or to register: Email me at email@example.com.
This five-week class is designed for both fiction and memoir writers. (Poets might also find it useful, but I don’t recommend it for picture book writers.) Each week will focus on a different, essential craft of good storytelling, from character development to dialogue to narrative arc. We’ll examine both published work and class submissions.
Participants are welcome (but never required!) to share their work with the class as a whole, and everyone will receive weekly detailed feedback from me.
Bonus: I’ll send out a weekly writing prompt for the month following class.
Haiku for You
Send me a photo, and I will write a haiku just for you. I’ll mail it to you, signed and handwritten on a sheet of cardstock, either centered on the page or at the bottom, your choice. Editions are limited to 1/1. This is a perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. All proceeds from Haiku for You are donated to Life and Hope Haiti, a school I help to support.
Haiku for You – $30 (includes shipping and handling).
Manuscript Critique Services
Sometimes, if I have time, I enjoy working one on one with serious writers who are looking for a careful, devoted reading and critique of their manuscripts. Over the years I’ve been a writer and a teacher of writing, I’ve worked in and with many different forms, including novels (adult, young adult and children’s), memoirs, short story collections, essay collections and general nonfiction.
Critique service includes the following for manuscripts between 30,000-60,000 words:
An initial careful reading.
2. A second careful reading, including line-editing, margin notes and copy-editing throughout.
3. A detailed critique letter, including overall comments and specific suggestions for revision.
4. A one-hour follow-up consultation, either in person, over the phone, via Skype, or via email (your choice), plus follow-up questions.
$3000, payable via Venmo, Paypal or personal check.
For more information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org