Writing About Video Games: Turn Your Hobby into Your Profession

Saturdays, July 14-Dec. 1 (Six online sessions: July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8, Oct. 6, Nov. 3, Dec. 1) 10 to 11:30 am, plus facilitated online interaction between sessions   $365 members/$395 others  ONLINE-ONLY CLASS


What is the most successful entertainment launch of all time? No, it’s not James Cameron’s Avatar. It’s actually Activision’s video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. “The video game industry makes more money annually than the movie business,” says instructor Hilary Goldstein, “and the competition to become one of the few who writes about games has grown intense.

“I worked at, the largest video games website in the world, for nearly a decade, spending the last two years as Editor-in-Chief. Currently, I am a contributor to more than a half-dozen magazines and websites including GameSpot, the Escapist, Venturebeat, and the Official Xbox Magazine as well as a marketing consultant for numerous game publishers. In that time, I’ve worked with dozens of writers, teaching them how to be successful in the games industry.

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Humor Writing: Transforming Life’s Disasters into Laughter, Part II

6 Fridays, once a month, 7-9:30 p.m.
$335 members/$365 others (plus $5 for Pamela’s hefty handout, payable at first class)     San Francisco 
(this class is not currently scheduled)

Pamela Bass is a teacher who challenges her students to combine depth with irony, meaning with wit. As Anne Lammott suggests, “Risk placing real emotion at the center of your work…Tell the truth as you understand it…it is a revolutionary act.”

For students who have already taken Pamela’s  “Humor Writing: Transforming Life’s Disasters into Laughter” (or the equivalent) this class will build on your knowledge of how to write the humor essay. For fiction or memoir writers who don’t usually write essays but want to spice up their prose with humor, this class will give you much needed tools. Above all, it will help you set deadlines and meet goals.

Maybe you want to finish some incomplete writing exercises from a past class. Maybe you want to put together an essay collection or infuse a memoir chapter with hilarity. Maybe you need motivation to build a regular writing practice that doesn’t end when your class ends.

“For the artistically unemployed and for writers who need a kick in the you-know-what, to continue their humor writing (or to get that witty memoir written) this class will offer not just concrete deadlines but the tools to enrich your writing, and a community to support you in achieving your goals.”

You will be exposed to new humor essayists from whom you will draw inspiration and learn new techniques. Readings will include: Mark Twain, Margaret Cho and David Sedaris among others. You will read 1-2 essays each month as well as the work of your peers. At each monthly gathering student writing will be workshopped and discussed in a supportive and constructive environment. You’ll do some in-class exercises, and a great deal more at home. Each student will complete at least one essay and one revision. Each student will set their own goals and the class will support you in meeting them. Some students might work on refining one essay, while others may work on building a portfolio of rough drafts.

In between classes you will have email dates with writing partners and regular check-ins with Pamela. You will receive written feedback from Pamela and your peers. Class lectures and discussions will introduce or deepen your understanding of craft concepts.

“Not only will we review the use of exaggeration and metaphor along with other humor tools, we’ll examine what it takes to craft an impactful piece from start to finish! As always, we’ll conclude with a public reading of your witty tales, for a supportive audience of invited friends at a local café or bookstore.”

*If you have not taken Pamela’s Humor Writing I class but want to explore your funny side, please email before registering for the class.  She’ll help you decide if this class is appropriate for you.

Pamela Alma Bass, who earned her MFA in creative writing at USF, has maintained her sanity by transforming her life’s disasters into comedy. Her humorous essay, hailed by the SF Chronicle as “hilariously clear-eyed,” can be found in the anthology I Should Have Gone Home. Excerpts from her novel-in-progress can be found in the anthologies Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009 and Hot Flashes: sexy little stories & poems I & II. Her writing has won awards from Glimmer Train and Traveler’s Tales. She blogs for The Huffington Post about the absurdity of parenting twins.

Going Deeper – Taking Your Poetry & Prose to the Next Level

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Berkeley
$95 members/$110 others
(this class is not currently scheduled)

What does it take to create vivid, powerful poetry or prose that offers a transformative experience to our readers? How can we engage so deeply with our own material  that we, too, are changed in the writing of it? Poet Mary Oliver famously said, “I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.” In this workshop with award-winning poet and memoirist Ruth L. Schwartz, you’ll spend the day exploring how to “see” more clearly and more deeply, both in your outer and our inner worlds. You’ll examine the ways in which this kind of seeing can both complicate and enrich your relationship to “truth” in your writing.

“We’ll work to expand our curiosity on every level, including our curiosity about language and form, as well as about our subject matter,” says Ruth.  “Finally, we will explore notions of beauty, and how the ability to see beauty in unlikely places can both deepen our relationship to our material – and more fully engage our readers. In the process, we’ll expand the range of (e)motion available to us, as writers and as human beings.”

Note: CEUs are available for licensed MFTs or LCSWs.

Ruth L. Schwartz is the author of four award-winning books of poems, including Edgewater, a 2001 National Poetry Series winner selected by Jane Hirshfield.  Her memoir, Death in Reverse, documents the year following her donation of a kidney to her former partner.  Her poems and essays have appeared frequently in The Sun (sometimes under a pseudonym, at the editors’ request), and she has received numerous literary fellowships, honors and prizes. Ruth is currently a Distinguished Visiting Writer in the low-residency M.F.A. program at Ashland University and also teaches privately.  In addition, she is a practicing hypnotherapist and shaman who honors and wrestles with pain, beauty and truth in all their disguises.

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