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A Long Way from Term Papers

Local Writing Schools Offer Structure, Support, Freshly-Brewed Tea

In Los Angeles, everyone and their mother is "working on a screenplay." In San Francisco, we like to branch out a bit: first novels, inspirational memoirs, travel writing, foodie writing, children's books: you name it, someone in the Bay Area is working on it and a writing course nearby caters to it.

The Writing Salon, located in a warm, cozy house in Bernal Heights, and Ripe Fruit Writing, in a century old Victorian filled with plants and books and comfort, are two of the many local writing schools that can help you find your muse, as well as a nice group of writer-types. Each school offers a variety of small classes at reasonable prices, so you can give yourself that gift you forgot to ask for, even if money is tight.

According to their website, The Writing Salon, whose most popular classes are fiction, memoir and personal essay writing, caters to plumbers, dancers, doctors, artists, waitresses, business executives, entrepreneurs, dotcommers, computer nerds, housewives, househusbands, belly dancers and more. In short, not only is this a place to learn about writing, it's a wonderful place to meet people that you might not encounter in your "regular" life.

The founder and one of the many teachers at the Writing Salon, Jane Underwood says, "I think people realize that although a writing class may seem like a luxury, it's really not. It's a great, relatively inexpensive way to feed your soul -- and you actually get a lot more bang for your bucks, because a GOOD class provides not only education but entertainment and socializing, as well."

With classes like "Food Writing for Food Lovers" and "Talking About Talking: Developing Dynamic Dialogue," and teachers like authors Janis Cooke Newman and Linda Watanabe McFerrin, The Writing Salon, has something for everyone.

A poet, playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer, Leslie Kirk Campbell is the founder and teacher at Ripe Fruit Writing, which offers weekly classes, one-day workshops and weekend writing retreats every season.

Campbell believes that many people in the Bay Area who are dealing with the tough economy, "are looking for a creative outlet and the possibility of going in a different direction with their lives. We offer partial work exchanges and payment plans so that everyone can do a class if they really want to. Tough times are a great time to commit to a class where we can be honest with ourselves and create something powerful and beautiful to share."

Like The Writing Salon, Ripe Fruit caters to writers of all levels. For the first time this year, the school is planning a "writing vacation" from June 7 - 14, 2003 which will be in beautiful Nelson, British Columbia, on a lake with kayaking, hikes through wild flowers and all levels of writing programs from which to choose.

Whether you want to write erotica in a group full of new friends or discover you inner voice out loud, there's no doubt that you can find an excellent school to suit your writerly needs.

For more information about other Bay Area writing schools, visit www.sfstation.com/literaryarts/workshops.htm Both the Writing Salon and Ripe Fruit Writing have upcoming deadlines for their classes so if you are hoping to take a class, check out the sites and register soon.