Monday Evenings, June 17 through August 19 2013 – San Francisco
“Half the people I know seem to have taken classes and workshops with San Francisco’s legendary writer and teacher Adair Lara. She is very savvy and smart and hugely entertaining. I admire her greatly.” –Anne Lamott
Hi! I rarely teach this workshop anymore, so if you’re interested in writing and selling personal essays, this is your chance. Hundreds of writers have begun successful writing careers in this workshop (that’s really true –I can give you their names) . Those who have taken this class have been published in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers – including The New York Times, The Smithsonian, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Self, Runner’s World, San Francisco Chronicle, More Magazine, and Vanity Fair. You will write a lot, learn how to turn a promising piece into a satisfying essay, and where to sell it. (I will make sure you send your work out).
Where: 95 Scott Street, San Francisco (parking is easier than you think) [Google Maps] I have a big cozy attic –if you can’t manage stairs, be warned.
When: 6:45 pm to 9:45,
The Course: Before the first meeting, you read all of Naked, Drunk and Writing and memorize it, so we can spend all class time on your writing, not on lecture. Feel free to do some of the exercises in the book, too, as you wait for the workshop to begin. The workshop is limited to 12 writers, and you will be working with each other in a variety of ways. I’ll give you weekly assignments designed to introduce elements of the essay – voice, angle, scene, epiphany– and to stretch your notions of what you can do as a writer. You can count on individual assignments as well, and will be responding to prompts I give randomly during the week via email. I read 4 essays of yours during the course, and you will be getting feedback from me and your fellow writers when you read aloud in class.
To Apply: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t been in my home workshops before, include a writing sample—2 or 3 pages of first-person writing. The first 12 to apply and qualify get in. Then I start a waiting list.
A $100 nonrefundable deposit holds your place, with the balance of the course fee ($749) payable before or at first meeting. Once I receive the deposit, your place is guaranteed.
PS: As soon as you sign up, put your writing schedule, as well as class times, on your calendar. Make it a priority, just for twelve weeks out of your life.
The list of topics below will give you an idea of the ground we’ll be covering:
Good critique: how to give it/How to take it
writing partners and writing-partner assignments
Elements of the short narrative essay
Angles, Setups, Humor
Tone and voice
Revising the Essay: The Flowers of Afterthought
When to use images and details, how much and which ones.
Let’s have fun: Exploring other forms—poetry, op-ed pieces, etc
Carving salable essays out of your memoir
I’ve worked in magazines–Executive editor, SF magazine; managing editor, San Francisco Focus; and in newspapers –columnist/reporter San Francisco Chronicle 1989-2004. I also have appeared in magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, Parenting, Glamour, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, Working Mother, Departures, Westways, American Way, Via, Fitness, Good Housekeeping, More Magazine, etc.
The comments below are from students who have taken a writing class from me:
Jacqueline Winspear, author of the Maisie Dobbs series
When I took Adair’s classes, which I did over and over again, her enthusiasm and understanding of the process of writing led me to make that quantum leap to being a published author.
When I was driving home from class on Saturday I thought: I have met one of the most important persons in my life.
Your buoyant, generous, smart, kind, funny self and your incredible ability to get to the core of what we’re looking for, is responsible for my new lease on life. Oh, yes.
The way you question the sticky bits of our work, never a put down, always constructive, makes us safe. Makes ME safe. The “is that necessary right there?” sentence that you occasionally toss to us gives me pause. The work we just did on the scene, as I’ve already told you, was the most important work I’ve done with you.
You give me the feeling that you care about what we do. How about that?
Lee Anna Hedges
You could teach a rock to write. Tone is everything and the tone of this class is savvy, smart and generous. I roughed out the toughest chapter in my book in this class. I found that stepping outside my project into someone else’s, in this particular class, helped me to come back to my work more focused. The essay classes were so much fun, I kept getting distracted from my project. This venue works best for me.
Above all, I feel that I am not alone out here with this book. Have you ever seen a porch being repaired? The roof is shored up by the scaffolding so soundly that the damaged columns can come out safely. That’s how I feel about your coaching. You’re holdin’ up the roof so I can get the work done.
You are smart, funny and kind. I live for your scrawls on my work, I have finally figured out what belongs where and why. During this class, I have produced over 125 pages of new text. In the two weeks I wrote to my writing partner, my life changed. The inertia I had been experiencing lifted, and I felt a sense of purpose I do not recall ever feeling before.
You created a welcoming, encouraging atmosphere, nurturing all of us on our individual paths and at the same time giving us wonderful, insightful content drawn from your observations and experience. We benefited from those years of writing and editing! I have taken a fair number of classes in writing of various kinds over the years, and you gave the best class I have ever had.
I never knew how to revise before, and now I’ve got a firm grip on the process. I like that we revised on a macro and micro level–both expanding material and then digging into sentences. As a result of your classes, I’ve become a better reader as well as a writer, which is a bonus I wasn’t expecting.
I dug up stuff I’d put away as crap and found out it wasn’t so bad, and the other stuff that I was stuck on also
found new life.
Now I go through my days thinking about angles and epiphanies, and they make exact sense to me. I look at previous work in my mind, and notice what has those elements and what doesn’t.
I appreciate your addressing the psychological, as well as the technical side of things, as when you advised me to sit back, look over the piece, and ask myself: ‘What, really, is going on here?’ Then: ‘And how do I feel about it?’”
. “Find a teacher you like and take EVERYTHING they teach.” You would be her. you
got me writing. you and class assignments got me sitting down to “the place where writing can occur” almost everyday and it’s fucking beautiful and I thank you.
You foster an atmosphere that is my ideal of what a writing class should be–both great crits and support. It felt like a family campfire or an ancient storytelling circle, where everyone shared the stories of their lives.
Thursday nights were such a haven for me – place where I could truly be myself and be with others who were like-minded. I really forgot about all my outside problems when I was there. The fact that I have made connections that are bound to grow is the most valuable thing I take away from your classes. I will be now attending Tuesday night meetings with the original group and am looking forward to picking up again the structure and community.
I was impressed by how much the writing level in the class improved in a short time
Our individual conference was a powerful moment. When I met with you, I was groping in the dark. The light switch was on a far wall. You listened to me talk confusedly about my memoir and got me to see in what direction I needed to go.
__The first night of class, you looked me in the eye and told me you’d enjoyed my piece on Italy, and that you thought I could sell it. You were so direct and specific that I couldn’t brush it off as your being nice or trying to make polite conversation. It set the tone for the next nine weeks.
Books by Adair Lara
Naked, Drunk and Writing (2009)
The Granny Diaries, Chronicle Books (2008)
Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer, Chronicle Books (2003)
The Bigger the Sign, the Worse the Garage Sale, Chronicle Books (2007)
You Know You’re A Writer When, Chronicle Books (2007)
Oopsie! Ouchie!, Chronicle Books (2004)
Slowing Down in a Speeded-Up World, Redwheelweiser (2002)
Hold Me Close, Let Me Go, Broadway Books (2001)
The Best of Adair Lara, Scottwall Associates (1999)
At Adair’s House, Chronicle Books (1995)
Welcome to Earth, Mom, Chronicle Books (1992)