Oakland Magazine: Write Like a Pro
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"Some students benefit from one-on-one or small-group instruction, perhaps like that offered by Teresa Burns Gunther and her Lakeshore Writers. Gunther’s workshops provide writers a chance to work in-depth on manuscripts in progress — fiction and memoir, novel, and story — within a small group of fellow writers."

By Michael Berry

Published: August 08, 2018

Writing is no longer such a lonely business, especially in the Bay Area.

While the struggle for inspiration and proficiency is primarily a solitary internal battle, numerous opportunities for support and intimate connections with other writers are available. There are superior local workshops, classes, and resources in Berkeley, Oakland, and across the Bay Area for anyone who wants to hone their composition skills, finish writing that mystery novel, or develop a revealing and moving memoir.

Teresa Burns Gunther
Fall into 2017 writing!
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Fall 2017

Wednesday Evenings: 7:00 to 9:00 pm
September 20 - November15   (No mtg. 10/18)

In this workshop we'll review and discuss "manuscripts" (stories, memoir pieces or parts of novels or novellas) in progress. Writing exercises throughout the eight weeks and suggested readings will deepen our exploration of narrative craft. 

*Thursday AM: 10:00 am to 11:30 pm  

*Women Only Generative Writing

September 21 - November 16     (No mtg. 10/19)
In this women's workshop, writers respond to prompts to generate new material and grow works in progress, expanding our understanding of craft.


 My workshops are designed to motivate and inspire writers, from those new or returning to writing to published authors. The only requirement is a desire to write and develop your craft and support the work of others. All are welcome; we follow strict guidelines to maintain a safe, supportive and productive experience for everyone.

  • Cost: $375

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MASTER CLASS with MARY VOLMER

November 11, 2017

So, You Want To Write A Novel? 
Do you have a first draft and not sure what's next? Are you working on a novel or memoir but lost traction? Are you having trouble knowing where to begin? 

Join Mary Volmer, acclaimed author of Crown of Dust and Reliance, Illinois for a one day intensive
novel writing workshop. 
Start your writing year off right!
November 11, 2017
9:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m.

$95
Apply now! 

Teresa Burns Gunther
Happy New Year 2017!

I hope that the holidays brought you comfort, time for politics to recede, space to escape into stories and poems that inspire, and to write. Since the election, many of you have confided your struggles to get to the page; that your story or novel feels unnecessary or unimportant given the uncertainty of the future. Others speak of the weight that the past election places on their creative energy, the space it occupies in their brain. And many women have experienced a revisiting of fear or anxiety about sexual harassment or abuse they thought was buried in their past. Know that you are not alone.

Everyone is reeling a bit. As writers, we have our pens to help us zero back in. Please, do not let the ugly discourse of social media, the airwaves and editorials  deter you from telling your own story. Remember that only you can tell it, that it comes from deep inside of you, that is essential. If ever the world needed beauty and truth, it is now.
 
Sometimes a rant is just the right medicine. There is no better time than now to exercise the power of your pen. Get it all down, down hesitate, let it rip, allow your words to surprise you. Remember, whether it's in your journal, in letters to editors or your elected representatives, there is power in your pen! Use it.
 
I am currently enrolling a six-week winter session, shorter than usual as I'll be travelling a lot this winter—including the Women's March in DC on January 21st, AWP in February--Let me know if you'll be there!--and I'll be at Hedgebrook again in March where I'll be teaching for one week, then in residence to focus on my own work.
 
I am delighted to host author Mary Volmer to lead a novel writing master class on January 28th. Mary is the author of "Crown of Dust" and "Reliance, Illinois", two powerful novels featuring strong female characters challenging the limitations society placed upon them because of their gender. If you've never worked with her or read her work, you're in for a treat.

Be well dear writer, have faith, and keep the pen moving! Wishing inspiration and joy in the new year.
Teresa

Fall in and Write 2016!

I've just returned from the 2016 Squaw Valley Community of Writers conference enriched by new friendships and inspired! My head's chock-a-block with language, ideas, stories, craft lessons, characters and quotes. I look forward to sharing these discoveries and inspirations with you in the months ahead. At the Conference I heard a bit of advice: When you sit down to write: Stop. Sit quietly for a moment. Close your eyes. Journey with your senses. Consider what you hear, taste, smell, feel. Open your eyes. What do you see? Do this to enter into your work with your all of your senses working for you.--And don't forget to turn off your phone and internet access!

Thank you to Mary Volmer and Hedgebrook for a fabulous one-day writing retreat for women last month at St. Mary's College. It was a fabulous day of writing with a fascinating group of women on the beautiful campus in Moraga. 

I've been traveling quite a bit, reading, hiking, celebrating milestones and just completed my short story collection Hold Off The Night. I have returned to writing the final revision of a novel. My new work is currently published in  Alaska Quarterly ReviewDogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose and is forthcoming in Parcel.
 
The upcoming Lakeshore Writers Workshop Schedule includes a master class with the fabulous MOLLY GILES. Our ongoing women's Thursday morning GENERATIVE workshop begins next month along with a new manuscript class on Tuesday evenings focused upon the art of REVISION. (see below for schedule and costs.) Note: Manuscript just means a work of writing in progress. Contact me for more info.

I'm developing an exciting roster of master teachers and classes for 2017, including a short seminar on publishing and a how-to: READING OUT LOUD. This class will help writers more effectively bring their work to life in public readings. (Holiday Lakeshore Writers reading event TBA.)  More news soon!

Some great reads to enjoy through summer's end include: Mary Volmer's Reliance, Illinois, Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All ThingsMs. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, and a story collection by Greg Spatz: Half as Happy. Enjoy!

Keep the pen moving!
Teresa

newsTeresa Burns Gunther
Spring-Summer 2016

Greetings!

Just a quick reminder that 6-week Tuesday evening and Thursday morning (Thursday is Women Only) workshops begin next week. Be in touch if you haven't yet grabbed your spot! There are just a few left. 

I've been hunkered down writing, when I haven't been traveling: writing retreat with Bread Loaf buddies in Atlanta, AWP in LA, and just finishing up a writing intensive to finalize my story collection.  I'm looking forward to jumping back into writing new material in workshop with Lakeshore Writers!

A DIY writing retreat is a more low cost way to get that writer-community-energy we so often crave. I met with my amazing writing buddies that I met at Bread Loaf Sicily. We eat got our own rooms, wrote all day, read each others work and met each night to get literary and party! I came home inspired and feeling very supported. Some writers can work completely in a vacuum--I've never met one but I've heard they exist. The rest of us need each other. How often have you felt the need to share your work, a problem with a story, or just sit and talk writing with someone who gets it?   It's important to make the time for this, it's a part of your writing job.  Make a writing date, meet a friend for coffee and write together, you might read a bit of your work to each other, or simply take a walk and talk about your work or the best thing you read recently. Sometimes the act of explaining what your story or novel/memoir is about helps reveal details and turns you weren't aware of. It can also help you recognize gaps in the story line or character motivations. And sharing works that you found powerful, dissecting them with another writer is a great craft exercise.

Technology is not always my friend. A computer glitch at my office prevents phone messages from making it all the way from my buildings front desk up to my office. The historic Bellevue Club building has issues. If you need call, dial 510.451.1000, type in 132 as soon as the operator answers and you can leave a message that I can retrieve. I'm hoping to get this corrected someday, but repairs move slowly in an historic building. You can always email me at: teresa [at] lakeshorewriters [dot] net with your number and I'll be happy to give you a call.


To share your news of publications, great reads, or events, drop me a line! I love to hear what you're up to.

I look forward to hearing from you! 
   
Be well, and keep the pen moving

Having Faith. Fall 2015

Writing can be a dangerous act. Some days we emerge from writing feeling alive and strong, more connected to the wide world, while other days we feel raw, sensitive to the enormity of life, or we're frustrated by our inability to convey what we mean to say.

Sharing our work can be a painful experience. The other morning I read a Facebook post by a fellow writer who'd been blindsided when a person publicly called his work, and his literary journal, worthless and trash. Understandably, it cut this writer deeply. My mother always said, "Consider the source" when someone dished out unkindness, but it's not so easy the when disdain is directed at our work, our voice, the place where we are most alive. 

It raises the question: How do we measure the value of our work in our lives? How do we develop the thick skin necessary to carry on and trust that we have something to say?

By opening ourselves body, mind and soul to the world we make ourselves more attentive and available to its wonder. It's how we attempt to capture the beauty of being alive, explore the mysteries around us, make sense of all that we don't yet understand, and discover truth and beauty in the most painful aspects of being in the world.

I caution writers to care for themselves when sharing new work. Choose readers who are dedicated to helping you hone your voice and grow as a writer. This is an important reason why I started Lakeshore Writers, to provide a safe space for people to come together, to write, create, to take risks, get wild and let the critics be damned. 

When we're discouraged, all I know for certain of is that we have to return to what we love, to the work of putting the words on the page, searching for the right phrasing, rhythm and language to render a thing real, visceral; to write story into being, to say best what we most want to say. And to trust that if what we have to say truly matters to us, if we've said it strong to the best of our abilities in that moment, there is someone who will want to read it, who will be touched by our words, welcome the company of our language, and be reminded that they are not alone.

Fall 2015

On faith and self-care

 

Writing can be a dangerous act. Some days we emerge from writing feeling alive and strong, more connected to the wide world, while other days we feel raw, sensitive to the enormity of life, or we're frustrated by our inability to convey what we mean to say.

Sharing our work can be a painful experience. The other morning I read a Facebook post by a fellow writer who'd been blindsided when a person publicly called his work, and his literary journal, worthless and trash. Understandably, it cut this writer deeply. My mother always said, "Consider the source" when someone dished out unkindness, but it's not so easy when the disdain is directed at our work, our voice, the place where we are most alive. 

It raises the question: How do we measure the value of our work in our lives? How do we develop the thick skin necessary to carry on and trust that we have something to say?

By opening ourselves body, mind and soul to the world we make ourselves more attentive and available to its wonder. It's how we attempt to capture the beauty of being alive, explore the mysteries around us, make sense of all that we don't yet understand, and to discover truth and beauty in the most painful aspects of being in the world.

I caution writers to care for themselves when sharing new work. Choose  readers who are dedicated to helping you hone your voice and grow as a writer.  If you share your work be clear about the type of feedback you want.  Creating a respectful community for writers is an important reason why I started Lakeshore Writers Workshop, to provide a safe space for people to come together, to write, to move the pen across the paper, to take risks, get wild and let the critics be damned. 

When we're discouraged, all I know for certain of is that we have to return to what we love, to the work of putting the words on the page, searching for the right phrasing, rhythm and language to render a thing real, visceral; to write story into being, to say best what we most want to say. And to trust that if what we have to say truly matters to us, if we've said it strong to the best of our abilities in that moment, there is someone who will want to read it, who will be touched by our words, welcome the company of our language, and be reminded that they are not alone.

Winter 2013

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.- T. S. Eliot

Greetings and Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year brings with it a rush of hope and new intention that thisyear we will do the things we've been promising ourselves. We'll make those changes in our lives to be healthier, less stressed, have more fun and finally, this year, set aside more time for our creative lives. A balance of hope--that we can do it, and fear--that we won't. Discussion at holiday parties, on Facebook, abound, while news reports stories and statistics about the success of annual resolutions.

I recently read an article by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche: "The Great Perfection of Creativity," in which he says our creativity is a function of our state of being. That to fully realize our creative selves requires a "state of natural flow," a state that hope and fear keep us from achieving.  He writes that: "To keep from getting caught up in hopes and fears, you must first stop focusing on the goal." Yet, as writers we are inundated with "how to" articles, books and emails promising quick paths to writing goals: Complete your novel in 30 days! Land a Book Deal in 2013! And then there's Nanowrimo, writing to produce quantity rather than quality.

So how do we do this? It's counter to our culture. Here are a few ideas:

Be realistic about your time. Determine periods of your week, your days, to set aside for writing. Approach your writing desk, pad, or computer with a desire to discover. I find that meditating before I write opens this door. Just 5 quiet minutes, breathing, can reboot your creative energy!

UNPLUG. Many tools exist to help you disconnect from the noisy world and go inward. One is Freedom that allows you to make your computer work better for you by tuning out the world for a specified period of time. I used to turn off my internet access, but a research questions might suck me back in. With Freedom, you have to reboot your computer to get around it.

Let's say you have only 90 minutes to write. Turn off your phone. Engage "Freedom"or similar app--Unplug for 45 minutes. Sit for a few minutes, eyes closed, feet on the ground, hands on your thighs and pay attention to your breath, allow yourself to return fully to your body. Even just ten slow deep breaths can make a difference. Notice when you smell, hear, taste and fell. Then begin. Ask yourself: What is the scariest part of your story, what is the part of your novel you've been avoiding—go there, see what excites you. Forget about the deadlines or grammar, tell your critics to take a seat; you've got work to do. Be bold. Be fearless. When the 45 minutes end (with a program like Freedom you'll get a notice, or perhaps you set a timer), stand up, do some stretches, make a cup of tea/coffee--do something renewing. Try not to plug back in, allow the work you've been doing to rest in you, see what ideas come as you walk, sip your tea.  Then return, reset for another 45 minutes. Pay attention to what it is you're working on when you want to jump up and stop. Is there something pregnant in the work, something wanting to emerge, something at the edge of your awareness?

During our funnel rain-crazy weather I couldn't resist going out into the downpour with the excuse and goal of unclogging rain gutters, digging out drains. I got lost in my work. As I pulled rafts of leaves, needles and branches from the street gutter I stopped, suddenly aware of an overwhelming gladness. Aliveness! I was reminded ofthat powerful scene in James Joyce's "The Dead" that I'd reread the night before. What delight to be out in my old rain boots, listening to the staccato rhythm of the rain, watching the wind stir up the world and coax leaves to abandon their trees as water seeped through my clothes, my hands happy in my gardening gloves diving into each task, directing the flood.

As writers, our moments of being most alive occur when the ideas flood through us, spilling onto the page, delighting us when just the right language arrives. Yes, yes yes! We are not counting the words or the days because we are alive to our own voice. We know just where we're going! We could write forever! Our work is to stay in this alive place, to let go of the big goals as we write, to be present to what our writing is trying to say.

Most of our work is trial and error--writing, reading, rewriting, rewriting. As we begin this new year, I invite you to consider your writing from this last year, read it all again, read for what calls to you, for what feels most alive. And rather than counting the number of pages, your publications and rejections, focus on what you're doing best, acknowledge your growth and development as a writer, read for the aliveness and return to those places. Can you remember where you were when you wrote the best of it? Did you meditate that day? Take a long walk before?

PROMPT: Write about jumping into a difficult task, fighting the elements: What are the physical costs? What is the goal? What complicates achieving that goal? What do you feel? Smell? What is the temperature? Is there a moment when the goal seems impossible? Use all of your senses. Write wild, anything goes...surprise yourself!

2013 Fall Workshops and Classes Starting

9-WEEK CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS
($395)

Wednesday Afternoons  2:30 to 5 pm
Sept. 18th - Nov. 13th & 
Thursday Mornings
10 am-12:30 pm
Sept. 19th - Nov. 14th

(No meetings October 23rd or 24th)

 

INTRODUCTION TO CREATIVE WRITING

5 Tuesday Evenings
7 - 9 pm
Sept. 17th to Oct. 15th
Cost $235

One-Day Workshop:
10:30 am. to 3:30 pm
Saturday,  Nov. 9th
Cost: $125

 

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There's still a chance to grab one of the remaining spots in the Fall workshops starting next week. I'm also offering the Introduction to Creative Writing Class again this fall and have one spot available.

Reminder: Call For Submissions: October 19th is the deadline for submitting work for consideration in The Lakeshore, a literary magazine featuring work by Lakeshore Writers. 

Congrats to Ann Ryles, Lakeshore Writer whose story collection was a Finalist in the Flannery O'Connor Award for Fiction. Share your news! Successes, epiphanies, great reads?

I hope that you've all had glorious summers and are ready to write!

All best, 

Teresa  

Fall 2012

Fall Newsletter 2012

 

If you don't feel you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then what you're doing probably isn't very vital.   
If you don't feel that you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it?  If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you're not trying to tell enough. 

                                             -- John Irving

*  * *  * *  * *  *
Dear Writer:

I've just posted the Fall 2012 schedule.It's hard to believe summer's half over! If you are finding it hard to get to the page this summer you're not alone. Changing schedules, out-of-town guests and family vacations can be a challenge for writers trying to carve out time for their work.

I have often found summers wreak havoc on my writing life, so this summer I planned ahead. Before I let myself commit to anything else, I scheduled writing retreats and enrolled in two short master classes--Lynn Freed and Peter Ho Davies--both were fabulous and inspiring. After my plans were set I was surprised by an invitation to the Norman Mailer Colony and Writing Centerin Provincetown where I was given a condo and bicycle to use, and participated in a workshop led by the amazing Sigrid Nunezfor two hours a day and the rest of my time was free to write! I haven't ever had a six week period so filled with insightful feedback, generous support, and so much time for my writing. I am feeling very spoiled, energized and snapping inspired, and will have lots to share with writers this fall.

If getting away to a writing workshop or retreat this summer is out of the question--if you're juggling work, kids camp schedules or family vacations--I highly recommend blocking time off on your calendar just for YOU. Whether it's a week, a weekend, a day here and there, or simply an hour--Do it! Go off the grid! Don't go to appointments or the store, don't answer email, turn off your phone; give yourself over to what you really want to say. Be wild, crazy, write bold. Say something dangerous.

And remember: it's Summertime! and you are required by the gods of sun and parks and rec to find a patch of grass or sand, an old Adirondack chair, or a quiet corner and kick off your shoes and read. Surround yourself with the voices and tales that enliven you. Or simply lay back, watch for characters to emerge from the clouds, or simply close your eyes and dream. Let your wild mind roam.

workshop, newsTeresa Burns Gunther
FALL 2012 SCHEDULE UPDATE
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In This Issue

FALL SCHEDULE UPDATE 


Quick Links

More About Lakeshore Writers  

More About Teresa


FALL 2012 SCHEDULE 
 

WEDNESDAY PM

7:00 - 9:00  

Ten weeks:  

September 12th to

November 14th

 

THURSDAY AM  

10:00-12:30

Ten weeks: 

September 13th to

November 15th

 

One-on-One Writing: Private editing and coaching services are available by arrangement--a perfect way to set goals that are workable, bust through writer's block, and   make significant progress on your writing projects.     

 

One Day Workshops:

*to be announced * 

* * * * * 

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

I do hope you're enjoying some great summer reads. Want to download storytellers to your iPod? I highly recommend a number of free podcasts:  Selected Shorts,  New Yorker Fiction Podcasts and The Moth. Check them out! 

I'm currently reading Lynn Freed's The Servants Quarters--it is fabulous! I also highly recommend: Alice McDermott's After This,  Elizabeth Benedict's The Practice of Deceit. I finally read John Updike's Rabbit, Run. What you have been reading? Do tell!    

Be sure to check out recent writing by some Lakeshore Writers: Downhill All The Way  and The Workshop -- a poem about Lakeshore Writers and being daring! Well done and Congrats!  And kudos to my friend Bridget Hoida's whose debut novel:   SoLA has just come out. It's a wild, snappy ride. A laugh out loud read, perfect for summer!  Let me know of your successes,  classes and stories you've enjoyed.  

If you don't feel you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then what you're doing probably isn't very vital. If you don't feel that you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it?  If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you're not trying to tell enough.   -- John Irving    

Here is the Fall 2012 schedule. Hard to believe summers half over! 
 

With changing schedules, guests and family vacations summers can be a challenge for writers to carve out enough time to work.  I have often found summers to wreak havoc on my writing life so this summer I planned ahead. Before I let myself commit to anything else, I scheduled writing retreats and enrolled in two short master classes--Lynn Freed and Peter Ho Davies--both were great. 
 

After my plans were set I was surprised by an invitation to the Norman Mailer Colony and Writing Center in Provincetown where I was given a condo and bicycle to use, participated in a workshop led by the amazing Sigrid Nunez for two hours a day while the rest of my time was free to write! I haven't ever had a six week period so filled with insighful feedback, generous support, and so much time for my writing. I am feeling very spoiled, energized and snapping inspired, and have lots to share with you this fall.
 

If getting away to a writing workshop or retreat is out of the question--if you're juggling work, kids camp schedules and family vacations--I highly recommend blocking time off on your calendar for YOU. Whether it's a week, a weekend, a day here and there, or simply an hour--Do it! Go off the grid! Don't go to appointments or the store, don't answer email, turn off your phone; give yourself over to what you really want to say. Be wild, crazy, write as if an alien planet is cozying up to earth and no one will ever read what you have put pen to paper to say. Be bold. Say something dangerous.

 

 

And remember: it's Summertime! and you are required by the godgoddess of sun and parks and rec to find a patch of grass or sand, an old Adirondack chair, or a quiet corner and kick off your shoes and read. Surround yourself with the voices and tales that enliven you. Or simply lay back, watch for characters to emerge from the clouds, or simply close your eyes and dream. Let your wild mind roam.  

 


I look forward to seeing you this fall. Until then, Keep that pen moving! 
Best, 

Teresa

PS. Workshops are already half full, so be in touch to reserve your spot. 
A deposit is required to hold your spot. 

Create. Write. Now.    

 * * *  

There is no perfect time to write.  
There's only now. ~Barbara Kingsolver