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To write our best, we must write from the heart. But finding which subjects mean the most to us can be difficult. Each week Jay Ridler will lead you through a series of fun, engaging, and effective exercises to help you discover and explore the deep and most compelling themes in your life. "And each week we'll spend time exploring those themes in story and other forms, all the while giving and getting feedback to each other," says Jay. "We'll explore the people and things we love (or hate) and consider why we need to embrace them in our work. We'll examine our fears and discuss how to face them, then how to shape them into art. In short, we'll explore how to dig deeper into matters of the heart—joyful or terrible, mad or sad—and learn to see them as powerful story catalysts.

"We'll also talk about less conventional ways of plotting, which can speed up your efforts to learn about your own dreams and fears, and develop what I call 'the personal mythology that most great writers create in their work.'”

It takes courage to write from the heart, where the things we care about hide. This course is designed to be a safe, fun, encouraging place to start the process. It's geared towards writers of fiction, but those who wish to write memoirs (or fiction rooted in personal experience) are also welcome to join in.



    Jason S. Ridler is a writer, improv actor, and historian. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and the upcoming BRIMSTONE FILES series for Nightshade Press. He’s published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Jay holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Berkeley, CA.

  1. Sunday, January 14, 10:30am-1:00pm
  2. Sunday, January 21, 10:30am-1:00pm
  3. Sunday, January 28, 10:30am-1:00pm
  4. Sunday, February 4, 10:30am-1:00pm
  5. Sunday, February 11, 10:30am-1:00pm
  • The real gem is what Jay himself brings to the class – his passion, compassion, insightful critique and wealth of knowledge . . . His leadership provided us a safe space to travel to sometimes uncomfortable spaces within ourselves, and to mine and dig out the gems (or bits of coal) that we found within . . . Jay’s passion for life and learning and discovery has re-ignited my passion for writing and made me believe that I, in fact, am still a writer. More importantly – Jay’s class showed me that I have stories inside me that want to be told, need to be told. I would love the opportunity to work with Jay Ridler again. That man is the bomb.

  • Jason's devotion to imparting knowledge, his choice and commitment to investing a huge amount of time reviewing and critiquing each student’s work for every single class, and the gift of his depth, insight and perspective that he employs to advance each students’ writing  — these are extraordinary. I’m sure you already know this, but the Writing Salon community is mighty lucky to have Jason Ridler. He is brilliant with a heart of gold and the devotion of Job. I look forward to taking any classes Jason invents to teach, and thank you so much for bringing him to us!

    Julie Fingersh
  • He's an incredible, thoughtful, and hardworking teacher and gave us a lot of information to help us craft our work. Specifically, I loved that he focused on beginnings, middles and endings. I now have a framework for my memoir and am determined to make significant progress on my own.

    Joanne Greene


Sun, January 14 @ 10:30 am
Sun, February 11 @ 1:00 pm
Event Category:


2121 Bonar St, Studio D, 2nd Fl
Berkeley, CA United States
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Registration Deadline

Registration closes 24 hours before the start time for a class.

Refund Policy

There is a cancellation fee of 15% included in each registration. The Writing Salon will not issue a refund if a cancellation occurs within 48 hours of the class start time.

The Writing Salon cannot provide refunds, transfer payments, or offer makeup sessions for classes a student might miss, for any reason.

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