(W)rites of Passage: A Seasonally-Inspired Creative Writing Workshop Series
in Boulder, Colorado hosted & taught by author, Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
"You have every right to write"—Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing
(W)rites of Passage is a Seasonally-Inspired Creative Writing Workshop Series that meets four times a year in East Boulder at the instructor's home. (W)rites of Passage also offers other workshops including online intensives and genre or theme-specific classes as well as one-on-one guidance. Workshop leader and (w)riting midwife, Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, has an MFA in Writing & Poetics, and is the author of the novel, Fig (Simon & Schuster 2015). In addition to fiction, she writes the occasional lyrical essay or poem.
(W)rites of Passage has been hosting successful workshops, catering to both regulars and newcomers, since 2014. Spring of 2021 marked the 24th series we have hosted and well over a hundred Saturday workshops! If you'd like to take a workshop, peruse the menu above. We now feature online classes including The Guest Author Series and Tarot Tuesday, and we are excited to introduce Youth (W)rites! with Toni Oswald (please refer to the tab above to find out more or to sign up!).
Our mission is to create community for writers by building and holding the diverse and safe studio space all writers need. (W)rites of Passage is a place to gather and daydream; a place to play; to revise and revitalize; to think about writing with other writers; a place to write, write, write. To foster this writing community, and the third mind that arises from such a collective, space is limited in the seasonal series guaranteeing that all classes are small (the number of writers depends on the workshop or series). These fill quickly so register as soon as possible. As for one-on-one writing midwifery, including Toni's offshoot program Youth (W)rites!, space is also limited as we strive to create a customized experience for each and every writer.
Sarah's teaching style is akin to the work a midwife does when assisting someone in childbirth; her job is to inspire writers, to help them open the texts they hold within, and to trust their own process. She coaxes the writer into writing, and then she facilitates in the visionary process of re(vision). Author, Lidia Yuknavitch says, "The mistake is where the art is," and Sarah is equally interested in failure, and the potential to learn from it, to see what jumps forth when we go in to mend the wound; to see what happens when we experiment, when we get messy. She encourages writers to step outside their comfort zones into a space where they will beat their own personal best. Just as Joseph Campbell believes in the power of myth, Sarah believes in the power of metaphor. She also believes in the need for ritual in writing and the necessity for writing rituals. Expect to dig deep: To wrap your hands around your own roots. To re-wild your imagination and expel your inner critic. Again and again, we have witnessed the magic that happens in a collective writing space.
Experienced at teaching prose writers and poets alike, as well as writers working in different genres, Sarah can assist both the novice and the seasoned-writer. (W)rites of Passage has had the honor of working with award-winning novelists, widely-published poets, Pushcart Prize nominees, ground-breaking memoirists, well-established performance artists, writing professors, and those just beginning to give birth to words. One might worry that such a mix of writers working at so many different levels of craftspersonship, and in so many genres could be problematic, but we've found it doesn't have to be (furthermore, one writer can excel at one element of the craft and still need help with another). One of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it; the more "advanced" writers help the beginners by providing their own expertise, the process of doing so then reinforces such lessons for the person providing them. Furthermore, beginners bring fresh raw energy to the space and help re-awaken writers experiencing burn-out. Finally, the key to good writing is watching and listening to the world. Diverse workshops serve as a micro-cosmos of the greater human experience. (W)rites of Passage workshops are designed to benefit everyone. We will meet you where you are. You only need to arrive and be willing.
The seasonally inspired workshop series coincides with one of the four seasons, addressing particular themes that are either literally (or poetically) relevant to that time of year. Sarah has a vast collection of unique writing prompts and exercises, endlessly pulling them out of magic top hats or enchanted trunks, haunted attic and cellar spaces, or her own bloody heart. We use Dada and Surrealist games such as erasure, cut-ups, and Exquisite Corpses, as well as collage, divination, sensory experiences, techniques for writing the body, treasure hunts, nature walks, Jungian-writing journeys, research, dreams, daydreams, mapping, meditation, visualization, and individual/community ritual to enter the text that is our/your story. Every Saturday has its own sub-theme and participating writers are given homework to be completed beforehand. Actual Saturdays are spent together, as a group, discussing the topic, critiquing each other's work, and writing, writing, writing. The workshops in the Spring and Summer are four weeks long whereas the ones in Fall and Winter are six. We meet on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Six-week long workshops are $400.00 whereas four-week long workshops are $250.00. Single Saturdays are $75.00 each. Writers who attend an entire eight-week workshop series also receive a 15 page critique of their writing in addition to the 8,000 words they get workshopped over the course of the series; for four-week workshop series writers will get an 8 page critique in addition to the 4,000 words they will have workshopped. Each series culminates with a potluck/closing ritual/salon celebration, and anyone who participated (entirely or partially), is encouraged to attend. The salons take place on the same day of the last workshop of the series (after the actual class) from 2:30 to 4:00 pm. (Please note, while the seasonal series remains online for the time being the salons take place on the Sunday following the last Saturday of the series from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted; furthermore, we have been forced to raise our prices because of inflation. We still always offer financial assistance to those in need but this is also why we needed to adjust the cost as we have been mostly shouldering this ourselves and it is not sustainable to do so with the former numbers. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please email us and let us know.)
In response to Sheltering at Home brought about by COVID-19, (W)rites of Passage evolved and went online. As a result, we have grown substantially, offering more than just the seasonal series, we now have everything from hour long intensives to genre-specific classes to the monthly Tarot Tuesdays to a Guest Author Series. We do plan on returning to in-person workshops this year (2023) but we will also be continuing to offer remote workshops via Zoom forevermore (for instance, "Tarot Tuesday" will remain online always).
Sarah is available to work with you on an individual basis. If interested, click on the "MORE" button to find the tab for "OTHER SERVICES" or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (This said, as of February, 2023, her books are mostly full until the end of the summer, especially when it comes to book-length manuscript projects, but she does have a list of extraordinary referrals for you to choose from).
(W)rites of Passage offers limited scholarships and/or a sliding scale to writers who demonstrate need. For more information regarding financial assistance, please email Sarah at email@example.com. If you'd like to donate to the scholarship fund (or to (W)rites of Passage, a labor of love) contact Sarah to make the necessary arrangements or simply send money via Venmo using Sarah-Schantz-6 or Pay Pal at firstname.lastname@example.org and Cash App using Storymama (please choose the Friends & Family option to avoid fees). For our records, please state this donation is indeed a donation. We will send you a reciept and a special thank you. We are considering the possibilities of someday becoming a non-profit.
Sarah's literary assistant is the beloved Harris Armstrong (his pen name is H.P. Armstrong) and he does everything from patiently removing thrift store price tags from the books in Sarah's home library (which she uses for (W)rites of Passage) to the thoughtful and evocative social media postings he designs for Facebook and Instagram. Harris is partly why (W)rites of Passage so commonly uses "we," but this plural pronoun also encompasses everyone who attends, has attended, or will . (W)rites of Passage isn't just a place to write and workshop, it's a writing community and space to celebrate the craft as a collective by simultaneously supporting each other and all our successes, both big and small. The (w)e also represents the third mind delivered forth by the writers who have attended (some religiously coming back) to then be nourished by newcomers. It is not uncommon to hear a (W)rites of Passage writer refer to (W)rites of Passage as their church.