Thursday, September 2, 2010

The perfect writing class

From: Jeanne

Here’s the deal. I’m far too old to be writing fan letters, too sensible to write love letters, too smart to try to impress you with intellect, but hopelessly gobsmacked and haunted by your books.

I’ve really never quite had a similar experience. The best word I can come up with is “excoriated.” (Yeah, nurses fall back on lingo.) I can find no better way than to describe a physical sensation to your words. Like...being lightly scored with a brand new scalpel. Not horribly painful, but enough to feel fully alert and aware. Thrilling.

I don’t read or write anything the same way anymore. (I don’t necessarily write any better, but I sure want to try.)

You wrote a piece some time ago which said it far better than I could:
When I write, dear reader, I don't want to build a careful tale for you to discuss with a smile in a sunny place, I want to own you. I don't want to be The New TV Series, I want to be pornography: to thrill you so hard you're ashamed but can't help yourself crawling back for more.

I want to write a whole novel that invades you. I want to control what you think and feel, to put you right there, right then, killing and being killed, fucking and being fucked, cooking and starving, drinking and thinking, barely surviving and absolutely thriving. I want to give you a life you've never had, change the one you live.

How? I will take control of your mirror neurons. I will give you tastes and textures, torments and terrain you might never find in your real life. I will take you, sweep you off your feet, own you. For a while. For a while when you're lost in my book you will be somewhere else, somewhen else, someone else.

I control the horizontal, I control the vertical. Sit back, relax, enjoy. When you're done, take a breath, smoke a cigarette, figure out who you are now, and come back for more.

It's more than a rant, actually, it's a dedication. A vow: with my next novel, I'm going to run my software on your hardware. You've been warned.
I made myself a promise when I began my writer’s journey, that I would tell authors when their work impacted me. Impacted is an understatement. I am touched, moved, and inspired, Nicola. I am grateful to have found your work, regardless of how late I found it.

I do have a question. My editor took an on-line class from you (and in fact, encouraged me to read you). Any chance you will be doing that again?

I've been thinking about it. The trick is figuring out how to structure something so that a) my student/s get what they need, and b) it's cost-effective for all concerned.

I'm considering three basic scenarios:

  • a personalised, one-on-one single-month intensive, online
  • an eight-week online class for 8 - 12 students, online
  • a one-week, in-person workshop here in Seattle for 10-12 participants

It would not be for beginners (unless they were insanely talented). In general, I prefer to teach writers who have already done their own learning (whether formally or informally). My favourite students are those who understand that writing is work, who have put in their hours, who have taken themselves as far as they can and now need an expert eye and a firm hand to give them a final tempering and hone them to a brilliant edge.

This kind of study is intense and demanding. Its effects can be profound. It's not for wusses.

If you've been through something like this (as student or teacher), talk to me. I'd love to get some input. If you like the sound of any of my scenarios, if you think one might be for you, drop a comment, or email me at asknicola2 at nicolagriffith dot com.

This could be exciting.

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