1. Shameless plug. This has been in the works for a few weeks now, but I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag before everything was finalized. Starting January 23, I’m teaching a creative writing class online through The Loft Literary Center.
Many of you know that I currently teach an in-classroom course that I developed called Back To Basics which has received good feedback. The online course will allow more people to attend, and I’m excited about that. From the comfort of your bunny slippers (I’m not judging) you will get the same information I’ve taught in the classroom. What is Back To Basics? Each class focuses on one essential building block of creative writing at a time, for example, point of view, characterization, setting/description, dialogue, suspense/plot, hooking the reader, revision.
This was something I’d always felt was missing when I was in creative writing classes in college. Someone might comment that one of the characters in my story didn’t feel well rounded. Thanks, but now how do I fix that? What do I need to do? It was like a big guessing game. So in these classes, you’ll get the how and the what by really delving into each technique on its own. This information applies whether you’re writing fiction or creative nonfiction (memoir or narrative nonfiction). You still need all of the same elements.
Please feel free to pass the word about this class. I need a minimum of 10 people to register. Beginners and advanced writers are welcome. The course will be offered through The Loft Literary Center, from January 23 – March 18. We don’t meet at a specific time (they call that asynchronous in the biz). You read the lessons and complete the activities posted in the online portal on your own schedule each week with lots of information from yours truly. If you register before January 1, you’ll receive a 15% discount of the course fee. Who doesn’t like a discount?
2. Kiva Update. I’m happy to report Ms. Gantogoo Dorjsambuu has repaid 100% of the microloan that I sent through Kiva! To refresh your memory, Ms. Dorjsambuu lives in a remote area of Mongolia and wanted a small loan to keep her sewing business going. She and her family live in a ger (a traditional nomadic tent). Her business sells ger covers and ceilings, curtains and sometimes clothes that she’s sewn herself. This loan helped her buy an electric sewing machine. Nine other lenders, from around the world, and I helped fund this loan that she’s paid off a little at a time.And Mr. Ulugbek Sattarov from Tajikistan has paid back 41% of the loan to keep his stationery store well stocked with supplies.
For those of you unfamiliar with Kiva, they are a nonprofit organization partnering with banks around the world to provide low interest small loans to business people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to funding. Sometimes we’re talking about loans as small as USD $250. The premise of Kiva is that if each of us contributes a little bit, we can help people get their business started or expand their current operations. As the borrower pays back the loan, the money gets redeposited into your account and you can loan it to another person (or cash out). Kiva boasts a 98% repayment rate. (Better than many industrialized countries, no?)
Now that Gantogoo has repaid her loan, I can pay it forward to another person. I’ll keep you posted!
3. If you have a garage, you have a garage sale. If you have a yard, you have a yard sale. In Brooklyn, we have stoops so we have stoop sales. Inspired by The Minimalists, I decided to gather a few boxes of gently used stuff to sell. With winter fast approaching, it was one of the last opportunities of the year. I tried to price everything to move since it was less about making money and more about cleaning out the closets. It wasn’t terribly successful. I made about $45, but sat outside for five hours (although the weather was lovely) not including the time I spent organizing everything beforehand and I brought back inside more stuff than I wanted to.
4. A friend and I went to see Moneyball with Brad Pitt, who is getting to look more and more like Robert Redford every day. Not that that is a bad thing. Have you seen it? From IMDB: The story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. So it’s a baseball movie, but not a typical baseball movie. I enjoyed it overall: less fun than Bull Durham (Kevin Costner) but not as heart wrenching as Pride of the Yankees (Gary Cooper). Brad Pitt gave a great performance, much more introspective than you might imagine. Maybe he is channeling Redford from The Natural.
5. Most ridiculous line from the bank during the refinance process (thus far):
Me: One of the documents you asked me to have ready for the appraiser is the “offering plan.” I’m not sure I have this. Can you tell me exactly what it is so I know what I’m looking for?
Bank: The offering plan is the paperwork outlining the plan for the offer.
Have you ever had a yard/garage/stoop sale? Have any tips for me for next time?