Here are mine: My non-writing related New Year’s resolutions are: to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, to not eat after 8pm and to do pilates on Fridays. So far I have been doing so/so with them. Sometimes I mess up. (Actually ALL of the time) Do you remember that one episode from the Office where Pam makes everyone keep track of their New Year’s resolutions on a wheel and everybody tries to find creative ways to avoid her because everyone gave up on theirs? This is so me.
The good news is you can make and remake New Years’ resolutions any time of the year. In June of 2014 I made my most successful resolution to date and I made it mid-year.
I resolved to get invited to feature at more readings.
It seemed after years of working several simultaneous teaching jobs at local colleges and universities, working with 90 students in a semester, I was too busy to participate in the burgeoning literary scene around me. When I finally was able to poke my head above water, I applied once or twice a year to be a “featured reader” at various readings and festivals and everybody I asked said no to me. This happened to me for years and eventually I gave up. It was quite demoralizing.
While drinking coffee in the morning on a random day in June, I made a pact with myself. I resolved to be featured at or host a reading every month for the next 12 months. I was going to try harder. I would treat it like a job. I was going to put myself out there and if nobody asked me or allowed me to read in their reading series, I would host my own. I made a promise to myself to read or host every month for the entire year.
I’m reading as a featured reader next month at two series—Deviance, A Feminist Showcase at Liminal, and Lyrics and Dirges at Pegasus Books in Berkeley.
I may have failed at all my other resolutions, but that one stuck and it wasn’t even made in January. It just goes to show you that you can make New Year’s resolutions any time. So, what are your Creative Writing goals for 2016? My advice is to pick one and work on it every month a little bit at a time and keep it playful. Set small goals for yourself that are consistent. For me, getting into all those readings was symbolic. It was a way I could be accepted when in the past I had been excluded. Achieving this acceptance in the literary community at large helped me let something go—a fiction that I didn’t even realize I was telling myself. I was harboring a belief that maybe there was something wrong with me. Maybe everybody knew it except for me. Maybe I didn’t deserve to be included. I was letting my past limit present and predict my future. Now, when I go to arts events, I move through the crowd with a bit more swagger because I know that I have something to offer. I built my circle around myself from the supportive people I found along the way here and there, and I tried to ignore the exclusives, the copycats and the Debbie Downers, and the haters.
I am making it broad so I have the most chance of success. There are many ways this can happen.
I resolve to try to make creative writing sustainable for myself, for the teachers who work for SF Creative Writing Institute, for our clients, and for the community of artists in the Bay Area, and for the underserved. I know this is hard. I know that everything we are doing is an experiment and that it may not work. I have seen the best collaborations come to an end due to financial constraints. I know it may not work. But I hope that it does.
We’ve got a great lineup of classes and programming this Winter and forming in Spring. I am so thrilled to work with Hollie Hardy and Nick Mamatas who are both gems and are impressive in their own right.
SF Creative Writing Institute is committed to paying fair wages to our teachers so that we can keep more writers in the Bay Area. When you sign up for one of our classes, you are doing the good work of keeping a writer—who is a seasoned professor, and/or professional editor fed. If for any reason we are not able to pay a fair wage, I’ve told the teachers, please tell me and we will disband. (Nick Mamatas promised to tell me this over roast beef and mashed potatoes at Lefty O’Doul’s in November, so he can hold me accountable.) I have no assurance that we will actually sustain ourselves. But, I know we are on the right track.
When you enroll in one of our classes, you are also plugging into a network of emerging and established literary talent (both in our teachers and students). You are aligning yourself with people-in-the-know who can help to sustain you on your creative journey.
We strive to be a supportive, nurturing, yet challenging environment where anyone can belong in order to create and craft their writing.
Thank you for reading, gentle writer. Good luck to you this year.
Welcome to 2016!
Good News for Fabulist Fiction Instructor, Nick Mamatas
got rave reviews in the San
Francisco Chronicle. The reviewer compared his work to Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, John Fante.
Good News for Sunday Poetry Workshop Instructor,
We’ve just learned that Hollie Hardy’s book HOW TO TAKE A BULLET, AND OTHER SURVIVAL POEMS has won the annual Poetry Center Book Award at San Francisco State University!
From their website: The Poetry Center Book Award has been presented annually since 1980 by The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, to a single outstanding book of poetry published in the previous year. The Poetry Center Book Award carries a cash prize and an invitation to read, along with the award judge, at The Poetry Center in San Francisco.
Grab your copy of HOW TO TAKE A BULLET, AND OTHER SURVIVAL POEMS
Good News for San Francisco Creative Writing Institute
Winter 2016 Classes Start Next Week
To learn more about a class, or to sign up, click on the pictures or sign up button
Jack Grapes’ Method Writing Program
Instructor: Alexandra Kostoulas
Sunday Poetry Workshop
Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mysteries, Young Adult, Magical Realism, Chick Lit & More.
an East Bay open mic.
Features: Lisa Martinovic and Freddy Gutierrez
First come first served. Sign-up starts at 7pm and closes when it fills up or when the reading starts, so get there early if you want to read! (Note: Sometimes the list is full by 7:03pm)
San Francisco, CA 94102