My class will be something of a polyglot — like my work, I guess. We’ll of course do exercises and read our work to each other every day, and if anybody has brought more-developed pieces they’d like to workshop, they’ll do that. Exercises will work both on information-gathering and on writing itself. Information-gathering, being at the core of good writing, plays a large role in what I like to work on.
But most of my teaching focuses on cultivating the habits that make writing a constant part of your daily work and get your writing in front of the readers who make writing worthwhile. Habits of working, of observation, of note-taking, of rigor in thinking and questioning.
I’m a writer of nonfiction — only nonfiction — so if you want to work on your fiction, we won’t do that, though of course all the techniques of reporting and writing that we’ll work on apply to any work you’re doing. We’ll get out of the room to go see stuff and talk about HOW to see it, and how that seeing will — must — inform your work. And we’ll talk about learning to hear a story, to let it come to you. That is, with all the tools we all now possess — video, audio, print, online — for both gathering and sharing stories, I advocate learning every new tool you can and thus being able to let the story tell you what it is. A picture with a caption? A 300-word tone poem? A 3,000-word magazine piece? A book-length study? A video involving only interviews? only music? only narration? Only shots taken with infrared, during the day, when people didn’t know you were shooting them?
Writing — storytelling — is a craft of constant decisions. We’ll talk about how to make those decisions. And yes, of course, we’ll sit and write and read to each other, and read some other stuff I think is great, but we’ll talk a lot about how we do this job of being a writer. I emphasize the job nature of writing a LOT. That is, it’s a thing you do, a product you create, and if you can’t get people to pay attention to it in a way that has meaning (financially, artistically, however) then what’s the point? So I plan to spend a good bit of time talking about treating this work like work.
I love teaching, and we tend to have fun when I teach. I think of situations like this as an opportunity for half a dozen or a dozen writers to get together and learn from each other, and I love doing that. In my own writing work I do everything from onstage live storytelling to video production; writing newspaper, magazine, and book-length nonfiction; working in radio; writing online; and telling stories for corporations, civic organizations, and governments. So I like to think if you’re doing nonfiction, I can help you at least figure out where you’re going next and then help you on the way to wherever that turns out to be.
Scott Huler will be teaching a workshop for up to 12 students, as will A.J. Mayhew (Writing Characters), Darnell Arnoult (Memoir), and Abigail DeWitt (Novel) at this year’s Table Rock Writers Workshop. Novelist Dawn Shamp will also be working with individual students on manuscript critiques. Memoirist, novelist, and poet Judy Goldman will be our special guest speaker. Please consider joining us September 17-21, 2012 at Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. http://tablerockwriters.com for more information and registration. Or write firstname.lastname@example.org