Jan 17, 2013

Workshops In Magical Places

Happy New Year!

I just returned from two weeks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I was co-teaching a writing workshop. We had six students, aged 42 to 84. We wrote, read, ate, drank, danced, visited the Bellas Artes, attended poetry readings, swam at La Gruta (the hot springs), and attended a flamenco guitar and dance show so perfect it made me cry. All told, it was magnifico.

I’m now gearing up to teach another workshop, and though the locale may not seem quite as exotic, it’s an equally magical place: the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. For nearly a year I’ve been working there. The Grotto is hard to describe, but in a nutshell it’s a shared office space for working writers—poets and journalists, comedians and screenwriters, famous authors, a Pulitzer Prize winner. (And me, eternally gobsmacked to be working alongside all of them.) The best way to get a sense of the Grotto, I think, is by listening to this radio piece about it. It’s an incredible honor to write there—and to teach there.

My writing workshop, which is six weeks long, runs from February 7th to March 21st (skipping Valentine’s Day for the romantics among us). It will focus on writing the travel essay. As editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing series for three years now (I’m working on the 2013 edition now), I receive between 250-400 submissions each year. I’m often asked how on earth I select the 30-some essays that make it into each collection. And this is essentially what I will teach: how to write that story, the one that makes me want to choose it.

Hope to see you at the Grotto!

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If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.” –Timothy Leary