Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Announcing Adult Classes (the kids classes are forthcoming)

December is a friendly, convivial beast. Every year. Between the celebrations, darkness, and snowstorms, there is never enough time to write.

Create the time now by signing up for my monthly write-ins. Commit to your writing time in advance. Or if you need that wetting of your writing whistle that exercises bring, sign up for Improv. Everyone could use a good "Yes, and..." now and then. Or if your project is well underway, find the "right" (in the Zen sense of the word) midset to approach your draft. Or set yourself a deadline on the road to finished project by signing up for Approach your revision or First Pages.

All my classes are designed to support the writing process. They provide actual writing time through idea generating exercises and energize and focus your writing in an low key setting. Think yoga mindfulness without the need for yoga pants (but you can wear them if you want). Plus my studio boasts a fabulous community. AND you know writing is good for you.

Check out the descriptions below and then link through to my buy page to sign up today.

All Adult Winter/Spring classes in the studio are on Wednesdays from 7 - 9 pm:

Write-ins: let Tina be your writing dominatrix, because you know you don’t have one at home. Tea and schedule/timer provided. BYOmalt liquor and red bull (or other writing enhancements). Work Schedule is as follows: 7:00-7:15 social 7:15-7:45 writing 7:45-7:50 break 7:50-8:20 writing 8:20-8:25 break 8:25-8:55 writing. First Wednesdays from January - May (except in the cases of January and April). January 9, 2013, February 6, 2013, March 6, 2013, April 10, 2013, May 1, 2013, Buy all 5: $50, Drop-in (assuming there's space):$15 I have space for 5 writers

Improv for writers: loosen up, have fun, learn how to find your narrative drive. This is a writing exercise class, pick up your pen and get limber. Come play on the page. We will spend most of our time writing, and these are serious muscle building exercises, hone skills of forward motion and attention. Writing IS your mindfulness activity. Stop the preciousness. 3 Wednesdays, January, 16, 23, 30th: $45. I have space for 5 writers.

Approach your revision: Is it time to dig-in to your draft? You don’t have to do it alone. Because your inner critic lurks for you and resistance is her weapon, this class will help you take the right attitude for revision. Face the messy verdancy of a zero-draft with the help of your friends and a 3 step process: read, respond, write. We will discuss the necessary mind/process for revisiting drafts. We will discuss the tiny segments of prose that make beats on the page. We will plan our attack. As a recovering over-reviser, Tina has the steady hand and wise-mind to set your revision energy on the right path. 3 Wednesdays, February 13, 20, 27th. $45 I have space for 5 writers.

First pages: get your first pages ready for this class. Do you need a deadline? Would you like some feed-back to get off and running? This is your class. Tina will look at the first 20 pages of your projects. We will discuss openings, what they need and don’t need, read our first 500 words out loud and get started for real, together. 2 Wednesdays, March 13, 20th. $30

Hope to write with you soon. Find the buy page right through here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Time to Update

What do I mean? That I finally have time to update? That it is about time I update? That NOW is the time to update? Not sure. All of the above. Whatever the time, I'm declaring my intentions!

First: This is the place where people can find out about me and my classes. It might not be the best mode for communicating that, a regular website might be better, but that involves a learning curve and this is what I have for now. I'd much rather be planning classes and writing than playing with HTML. That's just me. So for now, there will be intermittent posting and mostly it will be about writing classes. I do spend time at TPR more frequently. Generally twice a week. You are always welcome to come see me there. Or join Dianne on Mondays. As always, time requests, encouraged.

Second: The prompting of this post was the end of our Zero Draft Class. We met for the final time last night. Words have been written (by hand and by keyboard). Ideas have been fleshed out (not just the students' but my own). Narrative arcs have been revealed (not just for our stories but also for ourselves). I've learned much about the administration of a good writing exercise (Thanks be to great feedback). And it seems like I have forced plenty of epiphanies along the way (I'm like a labor and delivery nurse. I don't do the work but I can certainly make or break the experience). Hooray to beginning our bodies of work! Yay to establishing writing practice and reconnecting to youthful curiosity. Adults write so differently than the youth, but we can find our way back to those blissful musing journeys of the imagination. That is what I hear we have gotten closer to as a group. I know I can say that for myself.

Third: I have given up on writing that finished YA and that unfinished MG. They currently stand as failed experiments. I'm not sorry I failed at them. Those shelved drafts and finished products are still beautiful if misshapen. I have tried to make them right, but I couldn't do that while always trying to "fix" them. I didn't find the beauty in the things that actually make them beautiful. I didn't love them enough. It's time to embrace deformity in the things I write, in myself. It's time to be curious about why the deformities are there and what they are trying to say. The embracing is what is difference between my current writing and the writing in those old projects. I couldn't understand what the old drafts wanted to be, because I was always trying to please my readers, the market, an unknown editor, a known editor, anyone. (Please someone be pleased.) Now I am pleasing myself, a person made up of invisible, internal deformities. And perhaps the writing is all the more beautiful for the ways it fails to please. Because not only do I understand it better, but also myself. At least the failing makes it possible to pick up something new the next time and fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett said that first.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fall Kid's Classes in Tina's studio

Kids of all ages love this class where writing is an extension of play. Every kid will discover intricacies  of their own voice and interests. They will love to see how individual their styles are. In this class kids do a lot of writing, get a lot of attention, and learn the benefits of approaching a subject without judgement.

10 year-olds (or thereabouts): two consecutive Saturday mornings, 9 am - 10:30 am
First session: September 15th, 22nd - $30
Second session: October 20, 27th - $30

14 year-olds (or thereabouts): 6 consecutive Monday evenings, 5 pm - 6:30 pm
Monday, September 10th - Monday, October 15th - $90

Questions? Contact Tina at tina dot laurel at gmail dot com.

Click here to fill out registration form. It will be followed by a confirmation email and the choice to pay by invoice through email or you can snail mail a check. Students will not be considered fully enrolled until payment is received. Courses need at least 4 students to run. In the case of cancellation, tuition will be reimbursed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Novel Drafting Class

Draft your book between August 29th - Wednesday November 29th (We will meet every Wednesday except for the week of Thanksgiving)! Cost: $200

Using Alan Watt’s The 90-Day Novel, Ron Calson’s Ron Carlson Writes a Story, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, and more; we will take an intuitive approach to creating book-length stories. Class exercises will prepare for the week of writing to come. We will spend the first month doing preparation, exploring the world of our story, plumbing our curiosities and during second and third months, jump into the drafting. By the end, writers will have a fledgling draft to be passionate about. This is not a workshopping class. We will not be critiquing each others work as much as riffing on the possibilities that lurk within our ideas. The challenge is not to write the book well, the challenge can we finish. We are writing without expectation of outcome, which is the best way to welcome our stories to the world.

Limited to 6 students. First come, first served. For this class to run, I will require full payment at registration and 6 registrants. Email me to sign up (tina dot laurel at gmail dot com). I will reply with a confirmation email and send either an address for mailing payment or a secure credit card link, whichever you prefer.

If you have interest in daytime hours, let me know in an email. If enough folks are interested in daytime slot (most likely Thursdays, 12:30 - 2:30), I will hold a daytime class as well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thursdays in the Studio

Announcing daytime productivity classes in my home studio from now until school's out (except May 2nd when I will be celebrating my mother!).

This class is for any writer/non-writer who has difficulty committing time to writing projects. Bring whatever project is on your mind, or no particular project at all. We will begin with writing warm-ups, followed with timed writings (Promodoros) and finish with structured prep work (to get images into your brain and set them a-workin' during the rest of the week even if you can't). We will spend a little time exploring process and plumbing interests, but mostly we will add to the word count. Think intuition rather than tradition in this writing class as we join forces to get the work done!

12:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Charcuterie, rice crackers, and a hot pot for tea.

This is an ongoing group. Email any time for more info! (tina dot laurel at gmail dot com) $10 a drop in.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Learning to Write

I have been reading The 90-day Novel by Alan Watt and I love it.

I love the whole first 30 days where it's just about holding your idea loosely and letting your subconsious fill in the gaps and make a story around the images. Alan Watt believes that stories are what your mind does and a combination of patience and exploration will help you build one. My own experience with writing like this is that when the images live first, the structure forms around it. I've seen it happen in the writing of my students.

 He has a great list of guidelines for finding a creative writing teacher. From that list, you get a sense of his tone. I highly recommend the book.

 Of course I probably wouldn't post a link if I thought I was failing at these things. But some of them I will need to consider carefully. Considering did make me think about what I do teach. Here's a response:

 I can not teach you how to write. You only learn that through trial and error, through practice, through your own failures and retrying until finally you write better. But I can show you how to get excited about the process and get excited about spending time with your ideas. I can remind you to trust. And teach you that part of being a writer is constantly losing faith. I can teach you how to keep going regardless. I can teach you how to read and respond to other writing, what to notice in the text and in your own gut. And where and when to use that. And where and when I feel it when you write. We can practice together so that when you do something right you will know how to do it again and again. And that is what writing is about, keeping at it again and again and again.

So with all that, I am announcing another series of 3 classes in the studio: Wednesdays March 14, 21, and 28th, 7-9 pm. They are like yoga classes where we write and practice together. Email me if you are interested in joining us: tina dot laurel at gmail dot com. I will send you the announcement via email with all the details.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wanna write?

This summer, I will be teaching a teen class at The Loft, Minneapolis' very own lovely literary center.

Scoot on over and check out my class description.

The class's not until August, but registration is already up and running. Who's not gonna wanna write in August?

I'm excited. Expect that you will hear about it again and again.

While you're over there at the Loft's website you should check out ALL the youth classes. People who teach writing to young people are mighty cool. There are many, many, many classes I would love to take. ...Alas, not a teen.

Also... Come join us in the studio. We write a lot.

Classes will be starting up on Wednesday, March 14th. The class is super fun and energizing. Students always leave wanting more. I provide the prompts to plant the loose images of creation, your brain makes order out of the chaos. It's a magic process. We have been focusing on individual projects, but anyone can join, project or not, fiction or not. You may find a project you can't help but put to paper. Expect more specifics in March. In the meantime email me for more information: tina dot laurel at gmail dot com. Find out how you can try a class for free.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Coworking, Groupthink, Collaboration, TPR

Have you heard of the co-working movement?

There actually was a New York Times article about how groupthink is a possibly harmful trend in society away from solitude and creativity.

There is a trend. I created TPR as a collaborative space. I host writing classes in my studio where we group write. I love Downton Abbey because of the whole ant-as-worker idea. The situation of those servants is enviable, all working together to cook, clean and serve, that sounds like my kind of dream. Many hands make light work. That is why people with kids have playdates. That is why GenX parents are paying so much attention to our children, in our own childhood we spent too much time alone. Or something. Don't get me started.

So I disagree some with that article. All I have to do is experience a totally packed yoga class and feel how much power there is in the combination of focused attention. When there is group focus, so much that is non-measurable gets done. The world is changing to accommodate that. I predict we are seeing a paradigm shift and we are moving away from old ideas of success and individualism to something so much more collaborative.

 So the challenge therefore is discipline. A way to work on our individual projects, and at the same time pool our resources. Find ways to support each other, but collaborate on energy and attention. Attention = Power. I am dangerously close to being new-age-y here. But you will know what I am talking about when you think about those moments at a concert or a ballgame. You have experienced it. Think about a party with a good host and the way talk and enjoyment flow. You have experienced it raising your kids and running marathons. Hell you have experienced it watching marathons. There is energy in crowds. It is learning how to manage the work along side the interaction. It's learning how to manage our creative process. It's learning how to use our intuition and apply solitude and concentration to get something done. It is learning to trust the creative process and knowing when to join the group and just get the dishes done and when to do butt-in-chair. Or perhaps the discipline is in making the work the ordinary, the everyday, the norm. It doesn't have to be brilliant. But that is better explored in a different post.

So I hadn't articulated the idea of groupthink when I started TPR, I just knew that it was something I wanted to explore. But now I know what The Practice Room is. It's a virtual coworking model. Maybe not the best one, just the first one that I have come up with. But it's the way of the future and it is only with experimentation and practice that we will get better at it.

 Dianne has an excellent post describing what we do over there. She is a marvelous host every Monday evening 8 pm eastern time zone. Write with her tonight. Try out the energy for yourself.

In other news, I have updated my class page with the first class listing of 2012. Click through here to read about it. We have begun experimenting with using our time together towards developing individual projects using the-crockpot-of-awesomeness model as described by the lovely TPRer, Marisa. We use directed exercises and conversation to supply images as ingredients, then let time simmer them into something complex and nourishing and hot. The final part is what you do on your own. Write, write, write.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We had an alt mitzvah here last month.

Our alternative, very different and personal event recognizing my son's foray into age 13 and beyond grew organically. Initially influenced by a group of friends we have met with for the last few years that also negotiate a double cultural heritage. They have become a spiritual family of sorts, really proving that it takes many hands to make light work.

This spiritual process of making meaning is hard work.

It is much easier to SHARE prayer, candles, eating, feeding and wrangling of children when you are practicing rituals that you didn't grow up with. One thing that has become crystal clear is that although we all come to the process with this half-Jewish and half-Christian heritage, each of our paths are different and distinctive. And that is part of what I love about this group and my own family.

I come from a family that is large and extended and blended in so many ways and it is from that intricacy of input that I have learned that it is what we bring to the common that creates our life as art. I love how my family celebrates our mainstream holiday. It is with our own particular take on food, wine and family. And it is the thing that is different and particularly ours that is most meaningful to me and what I hope we are passing on to our children.

I wanted this event to illustrate my son's difference, to show what is personal, what is distinctive, how life, coming of age, and alt mitzvahs are art projects.

And if there was any doubt that we were headed in the right direction, it was put to rest when we sorted photos to make the slideshow I have pasted below. You will see in the resulting retrospective what is distinctive and special about my son's interests and how they kept coming back to this moment, his care of creatures of all sorts. You will see photos of movement and dance and performance and art and performance art. Which culminate in a few pictures of food.

My son has been feeding us what seems like forever: pancakes, baking, serving homeless men at St. Stephen's Shelter, and lately combining his knack for beauty and interest in things Japanese with Bento box lunches.

Some of the food related photos involve a recent class project where he made homemade root beer. He had corked the mixture in empty wine bottles and was to take one to school to share with his class. In my husband's instructional and helpful way, he got out a wine bottle and said you will need to know how to open one of these. But this is a boy who has grown up in a bottle-opening household. Needless to say, it was more of an education for hubby than it was of son.

So with the pictures I have tried to locate my son someplace in particular, to say this is where you are, this is what we see, and there is so much more to come. Thanks to all everyone who has called on him with new responsibilities. Those of you that have taught him things in your woodshop, had him stirring an enormous pot in your driveway, raking leaves, building a sukkah, and most of all calling on him to watch your children and teach your children to dance. I am incredibly grateful to those of you that he will call on when he needs. Most of all I am grateful for him and what he's shown me.

We have been learning from him for a long long time. We have these photos from a trip to the Canadian Rockies and whenever any of the adults held the camera we looked UP at the enormous mountains with their snowfields and rock faces. But when my son took the pictures he captured the teeming ferns and flowers that grew around the running melt from the snow. The pictures he took were incredible, these tiny views that we all had just stepped over and moved on. I can't wait to see all the other perspectives he will school me on.


 Thanks, young man, for showing me those things and thank you for every other thing you have yet to teach me. I promise that I will be open and willing to learn. I am excited to learn.