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Posted by vigorous puppy

Master Classes Relaunch with Zen Mind Beginners' Workshop - CLASS NOW SOLD OUT

Dear Unknown Cult Writer,

We understand that you're something more than a Palahniuk fan, that your literary tastes are wide and varied, and you habituate The Cult for the company of equally articulate souls. Sometime curmudgeon, sometime enthusiast, and sometimes both, you entertain with your forum posts and make friends well. Your generosity isn't obscured by the occasional dark turn of mood or minor topical quibbling. Maybe you’ve endeared yourself to the community here with casual posting, or maybe you’ve only lurked and read things and admired or disputed silently against this multiplicity of voices. But you've hesitated to take that additional step toward our Workshop and the many writing intensives and master classes we've offered in recent years, and this is something that gnaws at you a bit. If it doesn't, then go directly to General Discussion and read or post anything. But if I've piqued your curiosity at all, then I'm talking directly to you. This letter is dedicated explicitly to those who've felt the urge but not the readiness to join our Writing Community.

What's been holding you back? We would like to see a book with your name on it, or a short story--maybe a whole collection of them. Get cracking.

It’s possible that you've done the Premium Membership thing for awhile and taken a peek at our Workshop submissions. If so, then maybe you have some hint that it can be hardball in there, especially for the beginner; the critiques can be fairly harsh or hard to take. Maybe you've felt that your work isn't yet ready to stand up to that level of scrutiny. No one wants to be the stringbean video game geek or the bacony donut muncher on his very first day at Gold's Gym. Peeking into our everyday Workshop can feel just like peering into that gym window when you've never worked out a day in your life.

Conversely, maybe writing that’s a little weak isn’t the issue. Maybe you haven't been making any pages to bring to a workshop at all. Maybe your brain is a pinball machine of great if somewhat erratic story ideas that assault you whenever you're away from the computer, but never seem to fit in any organized fashion once you sit down. I know how that feels. Perhaps you need to discover how to follow and capture those wild ideas in the first place.

And once those ideas do start flowing onto paper in a way that makes some kind of sense, well, what then? Almost every writer who taps into good material does a certain amount of writing as self-therapy. There's a danger in rushing to show others that early work. There's a danger in seeking approval for very personal work. Everyday real-world writers’ workshops, when they don’t turn into viscous in-group politics, often turn into a kind of group therapy session, where a skillful moderator makes sure that everyone is heard and no one gets trounced. This is very good for the self-esteem and also the integrity and longevity of the group, but what if you're ready to bolt past the sharing of mutual not-publishable journal writing? What if you're ready to write for an audience, to write for publication, and you're stuck in a mollycoddling writers group that shuns hard-hitting feedback at all costs?

This next part gets really scary. You might be the intermediate writer who is completely unsure whether you're still just doing therapy on yourself or whether the personal material you use and tap into has, in fact, been artistically rendered to serve an audience. What if you just don’t know? Would anyone in your workshop group, if you had one, exercise the sensitivity and discernment to treat you well as a person and simultaneously supply the kind of hard-hitting feedback that actually helps you improve? Loads of good writing teachers with a masterful knowledge of language and literature are only marginally good at striking this right balance.

I've seen it for years, both inside and outside the university. And of course I've learned more in seven years as Writers Workshop Administrator for than I ever could have learned in a cloistered academic setting alone. In particular, I've had the experience of recruiting instructors and facilitating all the big multi-week writing intensives we've done in the past. Those who have participated can attest to the ridiculous amount of knowledge you can scurry away with at the end of a multi-week session with the likes of Clevenger, Baer, or Max Barry. It's a common reaction to feel you've gained more in just a few weeks than afforded by several years of institutional learning. Of course, we have our addicts, too. Those who have participated in virtually every Cult Master Class I've organized. Among this class of character, we have names that everyone will soon know. We also have those who can attest to my regular presence as a co-learner and journeyman of the trade.

But let me bring this back to you, the guy or girl who's stood at the edge of the party for far too long—the wallflower. Your secret wellspring of hidden talents covered, perhaps, by a winter's blanket of insecurities. Winter is over, my friend. I'm organizing a special class right now that's just for you. Within this class, I'm going to distill everything I've learned in 20 years of adult study in creative writing. We'll delve into key principles and practices that develop the core skills you'll need, not only to improve your craft in foundational ways, but to go on improving it in any setting. Need a primer that makes every future workshop opportunity vastly more profitable? This is it. Together, we will tackle all the basic fears and practical obstacles to your productivity and to finding your voice as a writer. I welcome you to a kind place that celebrates your quirks without granting admission to your excuses. With an invitation like that, how could you refuse? Your procrastination ends here.

The Details

Beginning Fiction Workshop with Mark Vanderpool
Where: only online @
When: July 5th - July 31st
Cost: $250

Early Registration Discount
through June 28th save $50

This class is now sold out!  Congrats to the students participating.