Listed below are some questions I often get about the class.
Do I need to know anything about writing to take the class?
You should feel comfortable writing a journal, or a letter. A basic understanding of writing is all that’s required. If you have questions, talk to me. That’s what I’m here for. You should come into the class wanting to learn more about writing and enjoying writing ( because you’ll be doing a lot of it!).
Should I want to publish?
Many writers don’t have a desire to publish in national magazines. They want to write for family, friends or for their church. While the instruction I give might be helpful for future publication, there is no push for publishing your work. I want to help you tell what you know so that the story or memoir that you write down is as close to your truth as possible. What you write should be what you intended to say.
Do I have to share my work with the class?
You are encouraged to share your work with the class, but it is not a requirement. When we get to the critiquing part of the workshop, there will be a little bit more pressure on writers to share their work. You’ll find, however, that during regular classes, we share the short 10 minute exercises we do and that helps ease any fears that you might have of sharing work. Actually, sharing your work with everyone is one of the key ways that you get better.
This workshop is 6 weeks long or longer. Why?
The standard course is between 8-16 weeks long, but I’ve done 6 week courses, and weekend seminars. It takes several weeks for us to bond and trust each other, and one of my goals in this course is to build a core group of writers in each church I visit.
I will be working mostly in the Dayton/Cincinnati/Columbus Ohio area, and will take a few months every year to teach workshops in a new area.
Do I have to attend all the sessions?
You can miss a few and still get benefit from the course. The workshops, games, exercises build on one another though, so missing too many will make you feel a bit lost. But I know with our schedules we can’t often attend every session.
Why do you have it so early and during dinner?
I found when I taught with food that it changed everything I did, making it easier, making learning and bonding happen more frequently. Whether it was that you shared food with each other, or that you relaxed, I don’t know. But as soon as food came into the picture, the class gelled. I have found it works the same with youth. For our class, we make coffee, tea and invite people to bring something to share.
I have it earlier in the evening because frequently late starts at 7 interfered with evening events, or people who just wanted to be in home before 9. I found in Whitehorse, where I’m from, that we had hundreds of events all beginning at 8, but very few from 5-8. So I jumped in that time slot–and with dinner–found that writers didn’t have to make a choice between dinner or coming. We can also do this on a Saturday, daytime from 10-1 or 11-2.
Would you teach this class at any church?
Well, I teach the class at churches that will accept me as a teacher. I have no problem teaching all faiths, or all denominations of Christianity, but I will only teach in a church that is comfortable with being taught by a gay Christian man. I’m here to teach, not start controversy or worry about losing my class. It’s why I’m open with this up front on my webpage.
Does that mean you would feel uncomfortable with folks who hold a more Conservatives viewpoint coming to the class?
I try to practice what I ask my students to practice: a respect for everyone’s opinion and faith. Each writer will have a different faith EVEN if they sit on the same pew in the same church every Sunday. Faith is very personal. Beliefs are personal. Prejudice and discrimination, though, demean other students and other believers. I don’t think it is conducive to learning. We can learn from every faith when everyone is open to listening to each other. To that extent, I also choose readings that are open-minded as well, authors who express their faith without limiting the faiths of others.
Do you teach one day seminars?
I do. I’d love to start off every church with a one day Seminar–an hour or three– so that people can see what I’m like as a teacher, and what the workshop might be like. Sometimes throughout the course I also give seminars (on a different day) on different topics that might supplement what people are learning in class–like Oral History Collecting and Digital Storytelling. I also teach science fiction and fantasy writing to both teens and adults and have those workshops available and ready to teach.
How much do students pay for the 13 week course?
The Saturday Seminar precedes the course, and is a way for students to get familiar with me, and see if they want the longer workshop. I recommend that anyone interested take the one-day seminar–fee is negotiable, but I’m usually brought in by the church. This is open as well for those interested in learning something who have limited schedules. The 8-13-week workshop is $150 and is non-refundable after the third session.
How do we get you to our church to teach us?
If you are in the Dayton area, feel free to invite me to talk to your group–maybe on a Sunday morning, or have coffee with your pastor. Please contact me if you are interested.
If you are outside the Dayton area, please use my email address on the front page and we can chat about possibilities and schedules. When I am outside of Dayton, I ask for a church to provide me a room to live in while I am with your writers.