Inprint Writers Workshops: offering more and doing more for the community
February 22, 2018, by Inprint Staff
“We love meeting the wonderful aspiring writers from all walks of life who come to Inprint,” says Inprint Executive Director Rich Levy. “Some of them have been writing for a while and others are just taking a workshop as a hobby, supplementing an already busy work and family schedule. The thing that they all have in common is a desire to tell a story, whether through fiction, poetry, or personal essay. Learning how to shape one’s thoughts in writing is hard but also an exciting process, you learn so much about yourself, the world, and your place in it.”
Over the past few years, Inprint has experienced an upsurge in demand for writers workshops. Meeting this demand has been a high priority for the organization.
“These workshops have been helping Houstonians enhance their creative writing skills since 1991,” says Marilyn Jones, Inprint Associate Director who manages the Inprint Writers Workshops. “We work hard to maintain an intimate and supportive environment in each workshop, so most workshops are limited to 12 people. We also want to offer high quality workshops, so instructors are rotated regularly to avoid burn out, and all participants are asked to fill out evaluations at the end of the sessions to ensure we are meeting participants’ interests.”
“I came away with concrete strategies and advice for improving my own writing. Plus, the instructor was just sort of awesome, very in command of the class, discussion, etc., but also with really interesting ideas.”
Workshops continue to receive positive evaluations. Recent participants have said: “This was for me such a positive experience. I can only say thank you.” “I’ve taken a lot of writing classes, and this instructor really impressed me.” “I came away with concrete strategies and advice for improving my own writing. Plus, the instructor was just sort of awesome, very in command of the class, discussion, etc., but also with really interesting ideas.”
And Inprint workshop alumni continue to publish their work, gain admission to MFA programs, and in general succeed at telling their stories. Ann Weisgarber, author of two celebrated historical novels, sold the film rights to her first novel, The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, to actress/director Viola Davis – a novel that had its origin in Inprint fiction workshops. Mark Dostert developed his acclaimed memoir of working in Chicago juvenile justice facilities, Up in Here: Jailing Kids on Chicago’s Other Side, in Inprint personal essay workshops.
With small classes, great instructors, and positive evaluations, workshops often filled up in minutes. To meet demand, for the first time in many years, Inprint is offering a fourth session. In addition to summer, fall, and winter workshop sessions, a spring session will offer a combination of 8-week workshops and weekend intensives starting in March.
Another way Inprint is helping to meet demand is to offer priority registration to those who signed up for a waiting list during the previous session. For example, individuals who tried to enroll in a workshop in fall 2017 but found it full were given the opportunity to register in advance for the winter 2018 workshops. “It’s a fair and straightforward way to ensure we’re able to serve as many people as possible through our programming,” says Levy.
Over the years, Inprint has also increased the number of workshops per session, added more weekend intensives, and explored alternate venues. These efforts are working. Workshops now see a steady enrollment, and anyone interested in a workshop can likely get in, if not the first time, then the second.
“One of the things we are truly grateful for,” says Levy “is that when people enroll in our writers workshops, they indirectly help to make possible everything we do. You can focus on your own writing while helping someone else.”
Unique among other writing workshops locally, Inprint Writers Workshops also make it possible for the organization to offer similar caliber workshops, tuition-free, to senior citizens, school teachers, healthcare workers, veterans, the incarcerated, and the homeless. “One of the things we are truly grateful for,” says Levy “is that when people enroll in our writers workshops, they indirectly help to make possible everything we do. You can focus on your own writing while helping someone else.”
It’s impossible to express my gratitude to Inprint, a unique non-academic program with workshops taught by gifted instructors. I would not have written my first novel, or the second one, and now the third without Inprint. Hats off to the dedicated staff for making dreams a reality. You changed my life.
It would have been very intimidating to think of myself as an aspiring writer, much less imagine myself as a published writer, without the opportunities and guidance of two Inprint Personal Essay workshops. The essay I workshopped with Emily Fox Gordon was later published in Ascent and became one of the middle chapters of Up in Here. What a nurturing refuge from our often thought-less world the Inprint House-classroom provides for those of us daring to dream that our words, so long as we’re patient enough to think them through and feel them through, might somehow have relevance and meaning to strangers. There is nothing that says Houston more than the Inprint community.