Michigan Quarterly Review posted essay by Seattle writer, Richard Hugo House teacher, and friend of the show, Wendy Call. Read, I command thee!
In response to posting my picks, one Writergrrrl asked what my opinion of Clare Dederer’s nonfiction/memoir class, Problems in Overwhelm.
I have no personal experience with Dederer as a teacher. I read her pop culture criticism at Seattle Weekly through the 90s, and was happy to see her well-deserved rise to a national level; New York Times, Slate, etc.
That said, good writers are not always good teachers. Last year, I took a workshop from a celebrated Northwest writer. A $100 nap. In direct contrast, in a workshop with the almost-as-famous Aimee Bender, her energy and commitment really took us somewhere. I came out of the class with a start on a fully weird piece about the polka-dotted nursery where babies go after they miscarry.
I will say that from the looks of things, Dederer’s class has all the makings of a Wendy Call/David Schmader success for writers on the exploratory end of the spectrum. I am enthusiastic about this sentence from her clean-lined class description: “We’ll explore strategies for narrowing and selecting our material.”
Creative nonfiction/narrative essays are my thing, these days; currently working on two—one that I have spent ten years trying to get right. Lucky for me, Hugo House is offering a fabulous bunch of non-fiction-y stuff as part of this winter’s line-up.
Last November, I took Nicole Hardy’s workshop, The ‘Modern Love’ Story. Nicole was personable, funny, caring as can be, and organized, organized, organized. She did not hesitate to share information that other successful writers might keep close to the vest. I highly recommend her as a teacher, whether for her class, The Most Personal Essay, or her workshop, The Nonfiction Book Proposal.
If I were on the newer end of writing, or trying to break out of block, I’d go for David Schmader’s Brainstorming. Ditto for Wendy Call’s You Are Here, particularly if I were working on a piece that would benefit from an exploration of Place. Schmaeder and Call are long-time Hugo House teachers, and well-published. Both classes show every promise of living up to their crisp and lively descriptions.