Jun 23

School Can Help You Write a Good Novel

There's a myth that writing a novel is very easy. In Peanuts we saw a dog writing a genre novel. Erase that idea; you are now in the Sanity Bubble. It's novelists, the long-distance runners, who most need education in the craft and the business.

Aug 05

Celebrating 25 Years of Teaching

This month marks my 25th anniversary as a teacher of writing (and sometimes Afro-American Studies). It is my 14th year at Washington University evening school (University College), my first year as an online instructor in the MFA program at Lindenwood University. I have twice taught graduate creative nonfiction writing at UMSL (which seriously needs a creative-nonfiction prof), three times in the Washington University Summer Writers Institute, taught  undergraduate composition and creative writing at St. Louis Community College, Wash U and Syracuse University, and taught for the first five years of the St. Louis Writers Workshop, plus half-day workshops in UMSL's "Just Write" program and various and sundry guest teaching and lecture spots at OASIS, Lifelong Learning, Lindenwood U, Webster U, and Poets in the Schools.

 I've got a lot to share. So if you want to take a course or workshop with me--you will not be sorry! And thank you for letting others know, too!

Fall 2011:
Washington University, University College (online registration is now open)
  • U11-225, "Introduction to Creative Writing," Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. Try out poetry writing, fiction writing, and creative nonfiction writing in this workshop class. Class 15 weeks, 3 credits, begins August 31. Half-price for over age 60. University College
  • U11-320, "The Art of the Essay," Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. Write and workshop essays and read historic essays. Class 15 weeks, 3 credits, begins August 30. Half-price for over age 60. University College
  • "Online Graduate Creative Nonfiction Workshop" at Lindenwood University begins in September. You need not be enrolled in Lindenwood's Online MFA program. For details or to enroll click here.
  • St. Louis Poetry Center Workshop, "Liberty Hall" Freewriting and Creativity workshop, Saturday October 1, 2011, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at my home in the woods about 35 minutes southwest of St. Louis. Hosting a day-long workshop at my home is a first! Includes lunch for the group.Cost is $50 for members, and $60 for non-members. Space is limited so send in your reservation ASAP to feeworkshop@stlouispoetrycenter.org.

  • Women's Writing Weekend, Sept. 9-11, to be held at Lafayette Square; details TBA. The people running this event are first-time organizers and not quite focused--but I am!
Jul 21

WU Summer Writers Institute

19 February 2009

Word has it that novelist Saher Alam read great stuff at Duff's on Monday evening. Fortunately, she's also an instructor in this summer's annual Washington University Summer Writers Institute (SWI). This is two weeks of full-time, intensive work on your creative writing, held every June. This year, June 15 to 26.

I've been involved in SWI for 13 years now, either as a workshop instructor (poetry; creative nonfiction) or guest speaker. The Institute changes people radically. Lackadaisical writers become committed writers; pre-professionals solidify their skills and learn about markets; timid writers gain confidence; procrastinators get kick-started; lonely post-MFAs enjoy workshop feedback again; people make friends; editors give priceless information on publishing. It's a volcanic and exhausting two weeks -- but hardly anyone has ever dropped out. If it sounds as if you need this, I recommend that you apply.

Saher Alam will lead the Literary Fiction workshop. Other instructors this year: Kathleen Finneran for creative nonfiction/memoir; Suzann Ledbetter for popular and genre fiction; Kerri Webster for poetry; and Richard Newman for the Young Writers Institute -- which is for high-school juniors and seniors who write poetry or creative prose. The Institute can be taken on a non-credit basis or for 3 college credits.

Here's the website with details: ucollege.wustl.edu/SWI. Tell 'em I sent ya. I also have insider information if you want it.