Monday, July 7, 2014

A new kind of teaching

In April I taught The Magic of Immersive Fiction, a one-day workshop for Clarion West. The workshop sold out within 90 minutes of announcement. We were all startled (at least I was, and if CW was expecting that kind of stampede they kept it quiet). As an experiment, I offered to teach the same workshop again six weeks later. Within a day that one too had sold out, and had a waiting list.

Participants, it turned out, came from all over the country, and from Canada. I was surprised by that. It seems like a huge investment to fly thousands of miles to attend a one-day workshop. Three days of absence from home life, two nights' stay, food, flights... I didn't feel responsible, exactly, but I did want to be able to offer more than a single six-hour workshop: go out for beer, talk, eat. Something. But because I simply hadn't expected anyone but locals for the first, and because of the last-minute nature of the second, my schedule wouldn't permit it. (I can't remember what I had booked for the evening after the first but after the second it was a talk to a book club about Hild). 

The workshops were wonderful. It was a delight to meet and work with such committed people. I wanted to keep going. I was only just beginning to figure out what everyone needed, how they thought, how they learnt best. And they were just beginning to understand each other and work as a group. And there was so much I wanted to teach.

Clearly there's a demand for focused workshops. I've been considering ways to address it. Kelley and I have done a lot of thinking and talking.

We've both done a fair amount of teaching, both writing and other things. One of the many things we agree on is that writing concepts are better absorbed over time. It doesn't have to be a lot of time, a long weekend say, just enough to think and test and question alongside others, formally and informally.

So we're pondering a workshop for a small number of writers. At this stage we're not sure how many because we've only just started thinking. (12? 15? 18? Something like that.) We're not sure of venue. We're not sure of structure or of admission principles. (Selective? First-come basis?) But here's what we do know. 

  • Genre doesn't matter. Story is story. I don't care whether you call it science fiction or literary fiction or crime fiction, the same concepts apply. Good writing is good writing.
  • Kelley and I would both teach. We have a similar understanding of how writing works, both at the basic and expert level. We'd teach different segments of the (say) weekend: I'd teach, for example, setting. Kelley, for example, story structure.
  • There would be time to socialise. One of the things we both love to do is bring people together: to hold parties, give readings, talk about everything from business to creativity to life. Such weekends would be an opportunity for writers to become part of a lasting and growing network.
Given that Kelley and I live in Seattle, Seattle might be the best place to do this. At least at first. Once we've figured it out we might be able to occasionally take it on the road, either as an independent workshop or to run concurrently with a convention or conference. Not sure yet.

So what we're looking for now is input.
  • Is this something you'd be interested in? 
  • What time of year works best for you? 
  • Would you prefer a holiday or regular weekend?
  • Is coming to Seattle workable for you?
I'm serious about this. We'd really like to hear from you.

ETA: If you're interested in staying in the loop on this, there are two ways to do it.
  1. send me email at asknicola2@nicolagriffith.com
  2. sign up for email updates of this blog

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30 comments:

  1. I would be totally interested in doing a workshop with you and Kelley! Any time of year is good for me. I have a few things on my calendar for this year, but I'm assuming you're looking at doing this some time in 2015? Also, do you need help with logistics/location? And is there a mailing list so we can be notified? Please keep me posted!

    Thank you!

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    1. I seriously haven't a clue when it would be. Right now I've put you on the informal list I'm keeping. I'll get more formal as and when things get clearer.

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    2. Okay! Sounds good to me. Thanks Nicola!

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  2. I would totally be interested. As I live in L.A., Seattle is easy to get to, and although any time of year works for me, you might want to avoid holiday weekends and mid-November through early January, as that is when travel will be more expensive and traffic worse. But, yay! please do start an email list as your plans develop....

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    1. That will be easy to do as I'm travelling for big chunks of October and November. And I'm putting you on the informal list.

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    2. But I don't have your email address. If you'd email me it (see sidebar) there's less likelihood of info going astray.

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  3. Heck yeah I'd be interested in a workshop like this. I attended the first Immersive Fiction workshop and the six hours passed in but a moment. I'd be surprised if anyone at the table wanted it to end.

    I'd apply to attend regardless of the time of year, and Seattle would be an ideal location.

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  4. Yes! I'd love to be in a workshop led by you and Kelley. I can be available any time of year, any weekend or during the week. I live in the Midwest so, as much as I'd love to be in Seattle again after many years, the cost of travel and accommodations would be prohibitive.

    If you do consider doing a workshop in Middle America, Kansas City or St Louis would be ideal for me. I could also do San Francisco or Phoenix, as I have family there.

    Please put me on your list.
    Thanks!
    Rosalie O'Leary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Got it. Send me your email address (see sidebar) and then you'll be sure to stay in the loop.

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  5. Nicola, I would be extremely excited to take a weekend seminar with you and Kelley. I was in the second Immersive Fiction class and not only did the time fly by, but I missed the opportunity to meet later with other writers and discuss what we had learned. I do know that that class has already materially changed my writing process for the better.
    Also, I know of several retreat spaces in places like the San Juans where everyone could stay onsite, there’s a cook who has great skills and experience dealing with dietary concerns and the environment is highly conducive to learning. Let me know if you are struggling to find a place and I’ll see if I can point you in a direction.

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    1. Excellent! As and when we get a clearer sense of where we're going with this I'll certainly let you know. Thank you.

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  6. Or you could have it at Fort Worden because Way Better Weather. Also: pretty!

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    1. It is pretty. I was there once, years ago. But the last couple of things there I've been mildly interested in weren't particularly accessible.

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  7. This would be terrific! Any west coast arrangement would be helpful. I like the idea of holiday weekend to minimize the request for time off from day job. Maybe one of the presidential ones that don't tend to have family obligations. But any time really as no date is going to work for all. Please make this happen! I'll just have to cross fingers that it fits what I can do :) I'll send my email shortly :) This will be a great contribution to the writing community!

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  8. What a marvelous idea! The two of you have been the best mentors an emerging writer could possibly imagine. I would definitely come up for this, and would encourage my local writing community in the Bay Area, and my queer writers' community, to do the same.

    I'd also be happy to help organize if you wanted to do such a thing here in the Bay Area.

    Yay!

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  9. I work at a hotel, so if by wild chance you came to Tucson, we could get a room block and a hospitality suite for actual classes. :>) I don`t know that I could afford any trips for a while, much as I`d love an intensive workshop with you two.

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  10. I love this idea. I can easily get to Seattle. Dates/time of year doesn't really matter as long as it's announced far enough in advance.

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  11. I love this idea! I teach at a private school that has Saturday classes, so summer vacation would be my ideal time to attend.

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  12. I'd be interested, in 2015.

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  13. As always, if you want to be certain of being kept in the loop, please email me (see sidebar) your email address so I can add it to the list.

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    1. I'd love to attend one of your workshops! Do you mean for us to email you at your "asknicola2" address or subscribe to the posts? I'm assuming the former, but just as a clarification...

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  14. Yes, I'd be interested. Especially if it was in Seattle or Portland. Here's an interesting venue in Portland...
    http://www.mcmenamins.com/427-kennedy-school-home

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  15. We talked at the Nebula Weekend about my desire to attend Clarion -- but that's never really going to happen, I suspect (because 1) legal career and 2) husband's opposition to being along for six weeks). But this! This would be very doable! I would really like to attend such a session. Timing isn't a problem so long as there's enough advance notice for planning. I've already added my email on the sidebar.

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  16. I'd definitely be interested in this. The opportunity to learn from both of you sounds like a fantastic idea. Up until I attended your Immersive Fiction workshop, I'd never even been to any kind of writing workshop/course. Considering how wonderful that workshop was, I'm sure the two of you together would put together something amazing. Please add me to your list :)

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  17. Yes, I'm very interested... especially if it IS in Seattle and is NOT during the summer (there's this other thing that occupies my summers now, you know). ',:^D

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  18. I'm very interested. Seattle is great, and I would prefer summers or if not possible, mid to late December or early January. Regular weekend if it's the summer. Other times of year Holiday weekend.

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  19. Is this something you'd be interested in? --Hell yes!
    What time of year works best for you? --Not the depths of winter
    Would you prefer a holiday or regular weekend? --Not sure that would matter because...
    Is coming to Seattle workable for you? --I'm on the East Coast, so that would be difficult. But I'd sure consider it.

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  20. I'm in Seattle and would attend any workshop you and Kelley put on anytime.

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