My approach as a teacher is to encourage my students to do as much freewriting as possible, and to create a supportive atmosphere in the class so students can break through their writing blocks. For our text, we use Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones; I feel that every student has important stories to share. The group is quite varied; some are new writers, and many are writers who just want to maintain a discipline so they keep going with their craft. We write memoir, fiction, and poetry, and sometimes students even pen songs and rap tunes during the class. I employ different exercises while we’re together so the time we spend is enjoyable: one example is a scavenger hunt where we use “found objects” to write about. We also go to Blue Corn for one class during the semester, and during this session, we blend non-fiction and fiction by writing about the food in front of us and its smell, taste, etc. as well as the noise and music we hear around us. Then we mix that into the creation of a fictional story about one of the customers in the restaurant and something that we imagine happening to that person, good or bad. We do “color walks” in one of the first weeks, so students are focusing on the sense details around them. Sometimes we also put a costume on and become a character that we then write about! In general, though, we generate a lot of new writing material, especially during the first 8 weeks of the class. During the second 8 weeks we continue to freewrite, but we focus more on character, plot, setting, and dialogue. We also critique pieces if students choose to do that. At the end of the semester, we often create a class book of stories, poems, and memoir pieces. We have done public readings at the end of the term, too.
In terms of my background as a writer, I’ve had about thirty pieces published in literary magazines, newspapers, and journals throughout the US. I’ve done stand up comedy in Los Angeles, and I also wrote and performed my own one woman show at El Museo a few years ago. I recently published a memoir called Confessions of a Failed Saint which I am now marketing.
I run the class workshop style, so students often get to know each other quite well. Many of my students have had their essays, stories, poems, and even books published. Writing Creatively is a perfect class to take to enter into SFCC’s Creative Writing Program because in it, you can experience many different types of writing and begin to develop a discipline. Or if you’re a more seasoned wordsmith, you can use the class to keep writing, keep getting feedback, and keep developing your skills!
Terry is teaching a free introductory creative writing class this coming Saturday, June 10 at the Downtown Library from 3:30-5:30 pm.
English 120 class starting Aug. 23 for fall–www.sfcc.edu