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Fall 2009 online workshop schedule completed! Registration now open!


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Here’s a sneak preview of Writer’s Rainbow’s fall lineup of online classes. If you’re interested, sign up soon; class sized are limited and fill up quickly. For more information and to register: https://writersrainbow.wordpress.com/online-teaching/

CLASS PREVIEW

*Back to School, Back to Writing
Generative workshop for writers returning to the craft after an absence.
Registration Deadline Aug 26

*Blog Content Builder
Three (3-session) blocks of blog-building strategy sessions, to be taken separately or together, for bloggers looking for new ways to generate content.
Registration Deadlines: Sept session, Aug 29
                                                 Oct session, Oct 3
                                                 Nov session, Oct 24

*Rabbit’s Hat
Generative workshop for magical realist writers who are somewhat familiar with literary magical realism or speculative fiction.
Registration Deadline Sept 3

*Silencing the Critic
Live interactive strategies for managing the inner critic, supplemented with handouts from the instructor.
Registration Deadline Sept 13

*Prose Ekphrastika—”Strangeness”
Generative class using Ekphrastic method (writing inspired by works of art).
Registration Deadline Sept 24

*Wet Dog Stories
Revision strategies for short stories up to 2000 words in length.
Registration Deadline Sept 30

*Team Rainbow 2009! National Novel Writing Month clinic
Live online clinic for all writers interested in writing a first draft of a novel between the dates of Nov 1 and Nov 30. Team Rainbow is the code word for success! Supportive team effort makes this difficult challenge much more playful and manageable. Students must be willing to follow National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) rules, which include no pre-writing before Nov 1. Instructor offers tips, techniques and encouragement for getting through 30 days of intensive writing. Go Team Rainbow!
Registration Deadline: Oct 5

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Registration Open! “Back to School, Back to Writing” Online Class

WRAIN 100: Back to School, Back to Writing (especially for writing parents!) Sign up here
Level:
new to intermediate
Duration: Four Weeks of Generative Writing for writers returning to writing after an absence
Format: Online/NonInteractive
Dates: September 9 through 30 (Wed)
Description: In this four-week online workshop, you’ll use your time generating new work and learning strategies for balancing home and work life with the writing life you want. Participants are expected to submit 2-3 new drafts (a total of 3,000 words) for review over the course of this workshop and will receive weekly prompts to get them started. You will submit these drafts to me, and I will give you feedback on what works, what could be improved, and what questions might linger. My aim is to nurture your writing practice through generative assignments so that it becomes comfortably integrated into your life.
                This class is appropriate for writers who are interested in starting a creative writing practice or who have not written in a long time, but want to get back to it. My specific focus will be on the needs of writing parents who are either caregiving or working full-time (or both). Handouts will cover time management strategies and confidence building. This class is limited to 8 members and will meet with me through a private platform online. There is an orientation period so that participants can familiarize themselves with the platform (which is pretty easy to use). There is no live chat session for this workshop; the focus for now is to simply get started or restarted in the writing life by generating new work and acquiring new tools for having a writing life you love.
               All instructor-t0-student replies to work posted for review over any given week (Wed-Wed) are posted on Wednesdays; students can post their work for review by the instructor any day of the week. This workshop will be offered again in Fall 2010.
Texts/materials: Announced once class is filled
Price/Payment Form: $100; PayPal
Registration Deadline: August 26 Sign up here
Class Min/Max: 4/8
Platform orientation: September 2

Today’s wildfire (averted?): 7 Habits of Effective Writers, minus women’s work?

I woke up with a frenzy of comments in my email inbox, several which responded a bit negatively to my own comment at the Write It Done blog, where a discussion about the 7 Habits of Great Writers inspired my dissatisfaction with the fact that only one female writer was included in the list AND she wasn’t a mother. (Hey, and I’m a fan of Joyce Carol Oates.)

I don’t have a bias against women who aren’t mothers. Let me just get that one out in the clear.

Folks who know me through Writer’s Rainbow know me for being a pretty strong advocate for two things: creative time management for writers and support systems for writers (both male and female, folks) who are also caregivers.

I couldn’t help but respond to Leo’s list. After all, number 4 on the list was Truman Capote, who wrote lying down “in bed or on a couch, with a cigarette and coffee. The coffee would switch to tea, then sherry, then martinis, as the day wore on.” How can this be pertinent to the hundreds of thousands of writers out there for which this example is akin to flying to the moon?

Yet, when I posted that the existing bits of wisdom simply weren’t relevant to me and asked for a list of the habits of Great Women Writers who were also mothers, I was called a baby and told to stop whining.

Wow, have we not moved past the notion that good mothers can’t also be good writers? Some, apparently, still believe that women who want something more than what has been prescribed to them for the millennia are just bitches talking out of order.

(Looking at American politics over the last year, I wonder just how much anti-woman sentiment has been unearthed even as we move forward to contemplate the possibilities of women in the upper echelons of power. I predict more and bigger dirtclods to come. Misogyny is like racism: it doesn’t go away, it just gets buried until someone starts digging.)

Please read the original post and respond as you see fit. Below, you will find my respond to the 22 comments after my post. Feel free to comment here or there with additional insights, ideas, etc. Ultimately, if we can ferret out more solutions for getting around the dilemma of having a writing life while being a (working) parent (or caregiver of one’s own parents, for that matter), then it’s all that much better for everyone who needs advice.

And if we manage to start a list of habits from some of our Great Women Mother Writers, that wouldn’t be too shabby, either!

(PS, I do like it that Stephen King was on the list; I, too, have read his book, On Writing, and find it one of the best memoirs of the writing life I’ve ever read. It’s in the Writer’s Rainbow bookstore.)

* * *

“A hat tip to Leo for opening up this dialog.

Some background and replies…

My comment wasn’t meant as a whine, Ernest, and I’m sorry for the poor spirit of your post. Mine was an articulation of the blindspot in Leo’s list; my intent was to help an untold number of writers who really need the support.

The reality is that creative writers (mothers AND fathers) who also care for their children and, now, their own parents, face a completely different reality. It’s not nearly as romantic as “lying down, in bed or on a couch, with a cigarette and coffee. The coffee would switch to tea, then sherry, then martinis, as the day wore on.”

Parents can’t aspire to be most of the writers on Leo’s list because there is a luxury of time that folks like Capote had that most parents (many of them also holding down jobs) simple don’t have. Frankly, just writing longhand is a luxury!

Here’s the deal: Besides being a writer and a parent, I’m also an editor, writing coach and mentor. I posed the question not for myself (you’ll see, below, that writing as a parent isn’t a problem for me) but for all my clients and writing cohorts and anyone else out there because:

• I know that just because something works for me doesn’t mean that it will work
for someone else, and

• since parenthood is a continuously morphing experience, I’m not finished looking for solutions because my schedule is always in constant flux.

I’m a rather prolific writer, actually. I’ve written and published more during my early years as a parent than I ever had in life BC (before children). Dozens of short stories, three times that in poems. Three complete novels. Two in drafts. Two Pushcart nominations, miscellaneous smaller awards and dozens of publications that speak to my writing life. I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo. I write short fiction, poetry, nonfiction, blogs, academic work, editorials. I’m currently working on a nonfiction book plus the final revisions for a novel right now (for an agent request). Take a look: www.tamarasellman.com

Listen, I’m not a Great Writer, so my habits are still part of my journey through anonymity like everyone else here. The fact is that giving advice to people who don’t live the same reality is like a gymnast giving advice to a ski jumper on how to get into the Olympics. So there are some commonalities, sure: get a coach, have discipline, find out what works for you, just do it. Rah rah. It’s in all the books, advice that’s typically timeworn, but abstract.

Let’s be realistic: those in the thick of parenting younger children need more options than that. They need practicalities and, well, even some of the idiosyncrasies (such as Joyce’s 4 typewriters and Nabokov’s notecards) to find “their way,” which will likely be outside the box that most other writers can fit inside because they aren’t caring for children (and working on top of that).

That’s not a whine, that’s 13 years of daily life talking, like it or lump it.

FWIW, here are some things that I *have* done over the years to keep my writing life intact:

a/write before 6am
b/write after 9pm
c/write during my commutes to and from the city
d/write during naps
e/writing while children are in school (it’s harder than it sounds when you also work for a living)
f/buying writing time through childcare
g/buying writing time through out-of-town writing conferences (you have
to actually use the time to write, though, so this one requires heaps of
discipline)
h/buying writing time through retreats (usually spent in locations
that inform the work I’m writing on)
i/limit email and internet time to 1 hour a day
j/attend a writer’s marketing group (to encourage submitting)
k/attend a writer’s support and critique group
l/take classes to generate new work

Hmmm, a lot of buying going on. This is what we have to spend, after all: money, time, energy, resources/support. We spend what we can, eh? I can spend money to buy time. Some people barter childcare (resources/support) for writing time. Others burn the candle at both ends (not the best solution).

I don’t have writer’s block because there’s no time for it, by the way. I leave writing projects in the middle of sentences so that I have an easy way to pick up the pace when I re-enter the work. I write various projects at a time so that I am always excited about something. From my training as a journalist, I assign and keep deadlines for projects that are both short-term and long-term. I write myself a 1-year and 5-year writing plan. I compartmentalize big projects so that when I sit down to work at them, I can feel accomplished in getting them done, brick by brick.

So that’s what I offer people who are trying to swing it as writing parents. But it’s still darn hard and I will always be looking for advice from the eye of the storm.

Some replies:

Mary: I like the idea of the Guest Post about great women writers and their good habits. I’ll probably do that on my own blog, though! (sorry Leo).

Allena:
I have paid for childcare to write my books. I’m lucky in that regard because I can afford the $8-12/hour to do this. If you want blocks of time during the school year, you have to go with daycare because all the babysitters are in high school, and they want a 20-hour minimum commitment per week. Are you prepared to pay that? Minimum $640+ a month? Most people can’t. The other option is to find a group of writing mothers and barter childcare for writing time. I live in a community burgeoning with writers, but I could never find anyone willing to do this.
See what I mean by practicalities? Realities for writing parents? Ideas are good, but only if they make it into practice.

Chase:
I’ve become a seasonal writer as well. I write year-round on nonfiction forms primarily, but when it comes to my creative writing (fiction, poetry, etc.), I save that up for the summer. I can do that now, with children who are older and more independent. I couldn’t do that back in the day of diapers and cabinet locks and poison control stickers everywhere. I think there’s a lot to be said about reinventing our relationships with time so that we can work inside our own rhythms rather than the artificial ones imposed upon us by society. That’s where I’ve been focusing my energies of late.

Michelle:
Thanks for mentioning me in your blog. (Y’all should go and take a gander, she gives the writing parent’s life a good go-around. All I can say is, I’m subscribing!)

RE: Holiday gift ideas and specials from Writer’s Rainbow!

Creative Trainer ~ Original Edition
Register and prepay before 12.15, get 3rd month free!
A $60 savings!
More info

Creative Trainer ~ Parenthood Edition
Register and prepay before 12.15, receive 1 free ms critique (up to 5,000 words)
A $30 value!
Read my pledge
More info

Drop-in Online Writing Clinic for January: “I Resolve”
MON: 2-4pm, TUES: 9-11 pm, WED: 2-4pm, THURS: 9-11am, FRI: 6-8am
~ Weekdays Jan 2—Feb 8 ~
Sign up with a friend and save $10!
Registration and fee for both parties due 12.19.
More info [click on “Online Workshops”]

RE: new coaching service for writing parents

Introducing—
CREATIVE TRAINER:
Parenthood Edition

Are you, as a mother or father of a preschool-aged child, struggling to find time for your writing projects, dreams, or drives? I completely understand the challenges of balancing parenthood and one’s writing career. I also know, first-hand, that it’s possible to have a writing life while raising small children (either full-time or as a working parent).

The CREATIVE TRAINER: Parenthood Edition coaching service is designed specifically with writing parents (and their schedules!) in mind. I want to help rejuvenate writers who have fallen into poor writing habits or need to add structure and accountability to their regular schedules due to the special circumstances revolving around the nonstop and demanding life of early parenthood.

I know precisely where you’ve been and have much to share with you. Let me be your virtual roadmap for navigating the creative, emotional and physically demanding life of the writing parent.

Holiday Special! Sign up for Creative Trainer: Parenthood Edition services by December 15, 2007 and receive one Classic Manuscript Critique (up to 5000 words) FREE! A $30 value! This service makes a terrific gift and an excellent writer’s jumpstart for 2008!

Sign up here