I’m delighted you have expressed an interest in
Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio. There are many methods of conducting
writing groups, as different leaders have different philosophies, pedagogies
and styles.. The following information on my practices and the beliefs
that underlie them will give you some idea of what to expect and assist
you in deciding if my wordshops meet your individual needs.
INFORMATION FOR POTENTIAL WORDSHOP PARTICIPANTS
People of varied ages, backgrounds, levels of education and writing experience
are invited to join Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio. I encourage
all those interested to attend a meeting at no cost as my guest to see
for themselves what it is like. My experience is primarily in literary
fiction, poetry and non-fiction, but writers working in other forms, such
as plays, songs, libretti, or those writing for specific audiences such
as children or young adults are encouraged to join as well. The wordshops
benefit by considering and practicing different forms of writing.
The Center City wordshop meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
The Main Line/Delaware County wordshop meets on Monday evenings from 7:00-10:00
p.m. Participants in each group are limited to 12. Registration takes
place in advance of each ten-week session's starting date, or when there
is an opening. At those times, I will offer available places in the wordshops
to those who have contacted me, on a first-come, first served basis. If,
after reading these materials, you decide that you wish to join the wordshop,
I encourage you to call or email and let me know, as I will offer available
places first to those who have specifically expressed their intent to
Wordshops are based on the writing method developed by
Pat Schneider, founder of Amherst
Writers & Artists (AWA). My initial experience with this method
was as a participant in Pat Schneiders workshops. Subsequently I
completed the AWA training course. Though
I have also experienced a traditional academic creative writing program
as both student and teacher, and hold an M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing,
I have continued to find the AWA approach especially effective in creating
a context in which writers can produce their deepest work.
If you would like to read further about the Amherst Writers
& Artists method, I highly recommend Pats book and companion
DVD, Writing Alone and with Others (Oxford University Press, 2003)
widely available from bookstores or on-line retailers. In the wordshop
sessions, we will explore many of the ideas, techniques and suggestions
presented in this work. I also draw on a number of other writers
reflections on the process of writing. Every new participant in a wordshop
is provided a bibliography of recommended resources, and the opportunity
to borrow copies from my library.
Assumptions & Ground Rules
"A writer is someone who writes" -- Pat Schneider
Anyone participating in Greater Philadelphia Wordshop
Studio wordshops has a desire to write, and the wordshops will respect
and honor that desire. Writing can be a much more fun and satisfying activity
than we often make it, but as it is always an act that makes one vulnerable,
the wordshops will deal carefully and thoughtfully with fears and blocks
to the creative process. Our goal will be to support each other's artistic
growth by encouraging creative exploration and experimentation and trust
in our unique, individual voices.
The following guidelines are designed to maintain a supportive and respectful
place in which to bring new-born writing into the world. Participants
are invited and encouraged, but never required, to read newly-written
work aloud for brief response from the group. When responding to new writing,
we honor the writer by listening carefully, and by responding with what
stays with us, what we remember and what we like, and not with suggestions
for changes at this time (writing in manuscript form may be also brought
in for full critiquesee Wordshop Meetings section, below).
Though writing is often therapeutic, these are writing and not therapy
groups. So as to keep our focus on the writing, and to offer the greatest
possible of freedom and privacy for each participant, we treat everything
as fiction, and thus refer to the narrator or speaker, rather than the
author, as the voice of a first-person piece, and avoid lengthy anecdotes
about our own personal experience. The content of all writing is held
in the strictest confidence.
At the opening of each wordshop meeting, I offer a prompt or exercise
designed to stimulate the imagination. Participants are free to follow
these prompts or to ignore them in favor of something else as fits the
creative moment. Some participants may choose to continue with work they
have in progress, modify the prompt or exercise in any way they wish,
journal, free-write, or experiment with a new form or idea. Following
the writing time, participants will be invited to read their work aloud.
Since any work just written is newborn, and the writer has
not had the time to polish it, response will be limited to what listeners
remember and like. Many writers find such response helpful later on, when
returning to a piece of writing to further shape it. Most often, we will
have one and occasionally two writing periods before a break.
When a writer wishes a critical response to a piece of
writing, he or she will bring copies of the work to the wordshop to hand
out to each participant. At the next week's meeting, the manuscript will
be discussed and participants will return the copies to the author with
responses written in the margins, for the writer to refer to (or not,
as he or she wishes) when revising. The aim of manuscript discussion is
to explore honestly the work's strengths and what readers feel may be
mitigating against those strengths, while supporting and encouraging the
writer in his or her efforts. Discussion of manuscripts will generally
occur after the break; if there are no manuscripts to discuss, the wordshop
will continue with another exercise.
Tuition grants each participant one one-hour private consultation with
me during the ten-week session. Private consultations are not required,
and it will be up to each individual participant to initiate a private
consultation if it is desired.
The focus of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio wordshops is on the
writing process more than on the writing business. That does not mean,
however, that publication will not be addressed. The wordshop will encourage
those who wish to do so to submit their work for publication. We will
discuss the mechanics of submission and will assist each other in uncovering
and identifying potential markets for our work.
Tuition & Withdrawal Policy
$420 for a ten-week session. This may be paid in a block sum, several
installments, or each week, but participants must, at minimum, pay tuition
for each meeting on that evening. Participants choosing to pay by the
week should note that I offer this option with the understanding that
each participant will make a commitment for the full 10-week session;
participants are therefore responsible for payment for each meeting during
the session, even if they are absent, unless a substitute attends in a
participant's place or other arrangements are made with me in advance.
If, following the first meeting of a session, you decide
that you do not wish to participate, there will be no charge and any tuition
paid will be refunded in full. If withdrawal from the wordshop becomes
necessary following the second meeting, any tuition paid for future meetings
will be refunded on a pro-rated basis. Those withdrawing after the fifth
meeting will be responsible for the full ten-week tuition and no refunds
will be offered.