Writing from the Chakras 2013

announcing…

Writing from the Chakras

An Online Writing Workshop

June 1 – July 31, 2013

with Minal Hajratwala

Are you ready to jumpstart your writing and discover new, exciting sources to fuel your creativity? Writing from the Chakras is a body-based writing system that leads to fast, energized, powerful, breakthrough writing. In this 9-week online course, we will tap into the seven levels of human experience that make up rich, versatile writing. Whether you want to write ancestral memory or science fiction … a high-impact fight scene for your action movie screenplay (root chakra! survival!) … or a moment of epiphany in your subtle and elegant short story (crown chakra all the way!) … this workshop will offer a plethora of tools and play to make your writing come alive. Fun creativity exercises, tools for engaging mind/body/soul in our writing, and work that heals trauma and busts through blocks: Join the journey. Isn’t it time to get in touch with the most powerful possibilities in your creative work?

(image by Izolda Trakhtenberg)

This online workshop is suitable for all levels of writers, from beginning to experienced, and you can join from anywhere in the solar system. You will have the opportunity to share work and receive feedback in a supportive, vibrant, temporary community. The focus is on generating new work and developing robust creative skills in order to free your writing to take a great leap forward.

All genres and genders are welcome.

Fee: $425 US.

Dates: We start June 1 and finish July 31, 2013.

Registration: Pay $425 by PayPal to hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com to reserve your space.

Questions? Please scroll down for Frequently Asked Questions, or email me.

Delphi: Interview with Minal Hajratwala about Writing from the Chakras

About the Instructor

Minal Hajratwala is the author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which has been called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post. The book won a Pen USA Award, an Asian American Writers Workshop Award, a Lambda Literary Award, a California Book Award (Silver, Nonfiction), and was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Writing Prize. She spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family.

She is also the editor of Out! Stories From the New Queer India (Queer Ink, 2013), a groundbreaking anthology of contemporary LGBT literature since the decriminalization of homosexuality in India.

Ms. Hajratwala spent 2010-11 as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in India researching a novel, while also writing poems about the unicorns of the ancient Indus Valley. Her creative work has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council. Her one-woman show, “Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium,” was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day in 1999.

As a writing coach, Ms. Hajratwala believes language is magical, and she loves helping individuals and organizations access the power to express themselves in words.  She has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally at universities, community organizations, and online, including as a 2012 memoir faculty member at the Voices of Our Nations Arts summer program for writers of color on the University of California-Berkeley campus. She is the creatrix of Blueprint Your Book, an intensive and inspiring six-lesson program for manuscript development; and Writing from the Chakras, a body-based system that leads to fast, energized, powerful breakthroughs by tapping the seven levels of human experience that make up rich, versatile writing.

As a journalist, she worked at the San Jose Mercury News from 1992 to 2000 as an editor, reporter, and the newspaper’s first reader representative (ombudsperson). She is a graduate of Stanford University and held a fellowship in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 2000-01.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How do I sign up for Writing from the Chakras?

A. 

The quickest way:

Via PayPal.com, submit a payment of $425 to hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com. You can use Paypal funds or a credit card. You’ll get a confirmation from PayPal immediately, and a welcome email from me within 72 hours.

If you’ve never used PayPal, don’t worry. It’s easy and takes about 5 minutes. Grab your credit or debit card, then just follow these simple steps:

• Go to www.paypal.com

• Click on “Send Payment” and then “Send Payment Online.”

• In the TO box, type “hajratwala@gmail.com” (no quotes).

• In the FROM box, type your email address.

• In the AMOUNT box, type $425.

• Where it says “Send payment for,” choose “Services.” (This means that you won’t be charged any shipping fees.)

• Click “Continue.”

• Enter your credit/debit card info and follow the directions to create your account and finish. That’s it!

If you prefer to mail a check:

Send a check for $425 to:

Minal Hajratwala

847 East Angela St.

Pleasanton CA 94566

Please drop me an email *after* you have put the check in the mail.  I will consider that your registration date and start sending you materials, so that we don’t have to wait for the snail mail to arrive.

Or send your owl / passenger pigeon / unicorn. Please do not pay in leprechaun money, though.

Payment is due in full before your first class, unless… scroll to the bottom of this FAQ.

Q. I understand that it’s online; is there any kind of group interaction? Are there specific days/times when we must sign on?

A. You can take this course from anywhere if you have access to your email once a week. There are no required times to sign on. Interaction with the group includes virtual workshopping and optional live sessions (see the syllabus below).

All of the weekly homework (or, as I like to call it, home play!) will be on your own time.  You will receive a weekly lesson with writing prompts and a weekly schedule for giving and receiving feedback from your peers, as well as from me.

Q. Is yoga a requirement?

A. No. We’ll explore a cornucopia of ways to tune into the energies of the physical/metaphysical body. Some of those might be about things to try in the context of your own physical practice — whether that’s yoga or dance, reiki, skateboarding, walking the dog, ec. All of the ‘assignments’ are optional so if it doesn’t work for you, choose something else; you’ll get plenty of choices each week.

(If you happen to be in San Francisco, Oakland, or Chicago, bonus news: I’ve taught Writing from the Chakras with yoga instructors who teach regularly in those cities. In case you’re looking for a yoga class to complement our chakra work, I’d be delighted to refer you to a teacher who is familiar with the concepts we’ll explore here. Again, not a requirement at all, just a bonus!)

Q. Can I get a sneak preview of the syllabus? How much time should I allot?

A. The assignments are flexible and each week, you’ll be given a choice of things to do. You’ll probably want to allot at least 2 hours a week, perhaps in 30-minute segments. If you got excited and did everything on the list, you might spend up to 4 hours a week — or even more, if you decide to write write write!

Our Syllabus

Week 1: Intro plus the Root Chakra

Week 2: The Sexy Chakra

Week 3: The Power Chakra

Week 4: The Heart Chakra

Week 5: Floating Chakra exercise / Integration

Week 6: The Throat Chakra

Week 7: The Third Eye

Week 8: The Crown

Week 9: Integration, Final Workshopping, & Celebration

In addition to the written materials and virtual workshopping, I’ll host three optional live sessions as follows:

(1) Building a Strong Foundation: Writing from the Lower 3 Chakras. Your questions about fight scenes, sex scenes, power struggles, ancestor work, our deepest dramas.  Week of June 10-15.

(2) Manifesting in the World: Writing from Heart, Throat, Hands.  Are you saying what you really want to say? Dive in, unblock, and get to the truth of the matter. Week of July 1-6.

(3) Connecting to Source: Writing from the Third Eye and Crown; Integrating the Energy Spine. Vision and transcendence, writing that flies off the page and into the ether, the future, alternate universes and beyond. Week of July 15-20.

Exact times will be based on a survey of availability and interest of those who enroll, and will be scheduled so that everyone who wants to participate can come to at least one session. The format will be Q&A and shared freewriting, and content will be entirely student-guided. We’ll use Google+ hangout or an equivalent.

In order to create a safe space where participants can share concerns and work in progress, the live sessions will not be recorded or disseminated; however, you may ask other students to share notes on the sessions.

Q. How will the online course work? What technology do I need?

A. At the beginning of the course, I’ll send you a syllabus and welcome document that will include technical details, logins, etc.

The tech basics you will need are:

• An email address.

• A computer with access to email once a week.

Optional tech:

• A gmail address for accessing the full features of google groups.

• A computer with audio or video capability to dial into the optional live sessions.

Q. Can I take one session at a time? What if I’m going to be away part of the time?

A. Each lesson will build on the previous ones. We’ll be sharing work and creating a temporary community. So, in order to keep it safe for everyone and manageable for me, there will be no drop-ins.

If you are going to be away for some of this time, don’t worry. This is a self-paced class, so you can always catch up on the exercises you’ve missed. Or you can just skip them and go back later, after the class finishes.

Q. I just saw this and it’s already past June 1! Can I still join and catch up?

A. Before June 5, yes. You’ll have a little catching up to do but it should be fine. After June 5, please email me.

Q. What level of anonymity will there be?

A.You’ll post your own writing and give feedback using whatever email address you choose. It’s absolutely fine with me if you want to use a pseudonym or create an alter ego for the purpose of this workshop. Our group agreements will include not discussing or sharing anyone’s work outside the workshop.

Q. How many students do you expect or will you cap?

A. I’m really not sure, right now I’m open! If it gets too big or unwieldy, I’ll probably split it into two smaller “sections” rather than close it off. Since I don’t know when I’ll have the time to teach this way again, I’m reluctant to say no to anyone who’s ready and willing to move into this work now.

Q. Is there any provision for people with financial hardship?

A.Yes. Times are tough, right? Instead of paying the full registration fee up front, if you need to, you can make payments on the following schedule:

$150 due May 31 or before your first class

$150 due June 20

$125 due July 10

Please note that when you sign up, you are committing to the whole course, so this is NOT a way to “try out” the class and hedge your bets! I trust you to honor your commitment. You can pay via PayPal or, if you prefer, you can mail 3 checks to me, postdated, and I will cash them on the appropriate dates.

If you are based in India AND have limited finances, you can apply for a special reduced rate of 11,000 rupees, which is about half the US student rate.

Q. Are you accepting international students?

A.Yes. Please contact me at hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com for payment options if you cannot access PayPal or if you have a question about currency conversion. Thanks!

Q. My question is not answered here.

A.No problem. Ask me at hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com .

Blueprint Your Book

NOTE: The 2012 class is over, and more than 20 writers made great leaps forward toward completing their books! Please email me if you’d like to receive an email when course enrollment opens in 2013, or if you’d like to work your way through the class materials as an independent student.

A 6-Week Course for Crafting Your Manuscript
Sept. 15 – Oct. 22, 2012
with Minal Hajratwala

Blueprint Your Book is a six-week crash course in structure — to help you transform your ideas or rough drafts into a cohesive, compelling manuscript.

Every book makes its own shape in the world, just like a body.  As Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  We’ll chisel deep into the foundations of great storytelling to find the shape that works best for you.  You’ll end up with an organic form and an action plan that gives you full freedom to sculpt your story whole.

Each week, I’ll send you tools and exercises that you can put to work now.  You’ll spend the week exploring, applying the new ideas to your own work, and workshopping your results with your classmates.  You’ll also receive personalized feedback from me.

In six weeks, you’ll learn:

• The top five successful book structures
• How to create your own organic structure  (a.k.a., this is not your grade-school teacher’s outline)
• What you most need to know about plot and narrative drive
• How to sort out overlapping timelines
• How to let your characters’ motivations drive the story
• How to get crystal-clear about your themes (i.e. What the heck is this book about?)
• The strengths and unique qualities that others see in your project — even when you might not
• How to structure your time and your support system
• How to deal with your inner critics
• How to strike the balance between form and freedom, to create a form that lets you write everything your book needs to say

You’ll also get:
• Insightful, personal critique from me on the work you generate in class
• Encouraging, thoughtful workshopping from peers
• Dozens of easy, 15- to 30-minute writing prompts to bring out the book that’s in you

And you’ll end up with an action plan to drive your project all the way to completion.

You can use this course as the perfect setup for National Novel Writing Month: the challenge of writing 50,000 words this November.  (Join me: I’m going to use these very tools to create my very own workplan for NaNoWriMo 2012!)

You’re ready to Blueprint Your Book if you:
  • Yearn for a clear plan to help you make progress on your manuscript.
  • Wrestle with character arcs, plot, and theme — but can’t imagine reducing your gorgeously complex story to a mere “outline.”
  • Want a solid foundation to get you started.
  • Are halfway through and need a jolt of clarity to propel you to the end!

Fee: $365 US.
Registration: Pay $365 by PayPal to hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com to reserve your space.
Dates: We start September 15 and finish October 22, 2012.
Requirements:  
An email address and internet access once a week.  You can join from anywhere in the solar system. All genres and genders are welcome.

Questions? Please scroll down for Frequently Asked Questions, or email me.

 

About the Instructor

Minal Hajratwala is the author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which has been called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post. The book won a Pen USA Award, an Asian American Writers Workshop Award, a Lambda Literary Award, a California Book Award (Silver, Nonfiction), and was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Writing Prize. She spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family.

Ms. Hajratwala was a 2010-2011 Fulbright Senior Research Scholar based in India, researching a novel while also writing poems about the unicorns of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley civilization. She is the editor of Out! Stories From the New Queer India, forthcoming in 2012 from Queer Ink. Her creative work has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council. Her one-woman show, “Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium,” was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day in 1999.

She has taught or coached writers in numerous venues including the Voices of Our Nations memoir writing workshop, Kearny Street Workshop, Bay Area Solidarity Summer for youth, Stanford University, the Asian American Journalists Association, and DesiLit’s Kriti Festival. For more about her coaching style, click here.

As a journalist, she worked at the San Jose Mercury News from 1992 to 2000 as an editor, reporter, and the newspaper’s first reader representative (ombudsperson). She was a National Arts Journalism Program fellow at Columbia University in 2000-01. She is a graduate of Stanford University.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How do I sign up for Blueprint Your Book?

The quickest way:

Via PayPal.com, submit a payment of $365 to hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com. You can use your Paypal funds or a credit card. You’ll get a confirmation from PayPal immediately, and a welcome email from me within 24 hours.

If you’ve never used PayPal, don’t worry. It’s easy, takes about 3 minutes, and you don’t even need to set up an account. Grab your credit or debit card, then just follow these simple steps:

• Go to www.paypal.com

• Click on “Send Money”

• In the box that says, “Send Money Now,” enter the amount $365. Under “My payment is for,” choose the option that says “Buying Something.” (This means that I pay the PayPal fee, not you.) Click Continue.

• Under TO, enter hajratwala@gmail.com. Under FROM, enter your email address. Click Continue.

• Enter your credit/debit card info and follow the directions to finish. That’s it!

Other good ways:

If you prefer to mail a check or deposit directly to my account, ask me for my details.

Or send your owl / passenger pigeon / unicorn. (Please do not pay in leprechaun money, though.)

Payment is due in full before your first class, unless… scroll to the bottom of this FAQ.

Q. What is the time commitment?

The assignments are flexible and each week, you’ll be given a choice of things to do. You’ll probably want to allot at least 2 hours a week  to read the materials, try out a few of the exercises, and participate in the workshopping.   If you got excited and did everything on the list, you could spend up to 10-12 hours a week — or even more, if you decide to write, write, write!

Q.  Can I get a sneak preview of the syllabus? 

Of course!  Here you go:

Week 1:  Time. Timelines, flashbacks, cause and effect, time period research, chronological and non-chronological elements of storytelling.

Week 2:  Place. Maps, memories, geographical research, world-building.

Week 3: Plot. Arcs, acts, mysteries, suspense, tension/trauma points, narrative drive, post-outlines, emotional maps.

Week 4: Character. Development, motivation, interviewing, interactions, quest/journey.

Week 5:  Theme. Image, metaphor, symbol, central argument, throughline, core meaning.

Week 6: Writer’s life.  Support circle, critique, inner critics, calendaring, goals, action plan.

Q. Seriously, we’re going to do all that?  

Well, not exactly.  I’m  going to offer you all that —because that’s what makes this a crash course.

Then you’re going to choose what you most need right now — because that’s what makes you the writer in charge of your own process.

The truth is, I’ll give you way more than you can possibly do in six weeks.  Somewhere in there will be the gems that will transform your writing, right where you are now — so you won’t waste time doing anything irrelevant or that doesn’t resonate.

Remember, the purpose of this course is to set you up to finish your book.  Use the tools you need now.  Keep the rest for when you need them, weeks or years later.  (I still use exercises and frameworks that I learned in the writing classes I took in 1994.)  You have a lifetime ahead of you as a writer, and your book has a whole life cycle ahead too.

The wealth of material here guarantees that you’ll get exactly what you need at this stage, as well as a box full of toys/tools to play with as your book grows up.

Q.  What stage should my book be in to join this class? I’m not sure what my book is about… I’m not even sure I’m writing a book … I’ve already finished a first draft, can I still learn from this class? 

All of the tools and exercises are designed to use prior to new writing OR prior to a major re-write/revision.  Here’s the rundown:

If you want to write a book but you’re not exactly sure what, this class will be awesome for you.  You’ll get ideas and tools that will help to you shape your ideas. You’ll be able to move forward from the cloud of vague ideas that you have now, to focus on a clear, specific, actionable project.  And a plan for getting it done.

If you are at or near the beginning of your book, this class will be fantabulous for you.  You’ll get a bunch of new tools and a head start on a lot of stuff that will save you time and hair-pulling in the writing process.  Go sign up, ok?

If you’re partway through your book, or have a draft or two done, but you sense that there are major issues with structure/theme/plot/character, this class will offer you huge relief.  We’ll sort out the things that are confusing you, and get you revved up with a bunch of new strategies so that you can finish your manuscript with confidence.  Sign up!

If your book is almost finished and you know exactly what it’s about and you don’t really need to sort out any issues, congratulations!  This class would probably be most helpful if you want to get a headstart on your next project.  Or you might want to ask me about my manuscript review services, because I am a fantastic editor.  Or, you know, maybe you want to go get a glass of wine and pin some stuff on Pinterest instead.

Q.  What’s your connection with NaNoWriMo?  Actually, what is NaNoWriMo?

A.  Besides being what Mork said to Mindy (OK, now I’m totally dating myself), NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  It’s actually international but they haven’t gotten around to changing the name to InNoWriMo because anyway, that sounds yuck. Anyway, it’s a month — November, to be precise — when a whole lot of fools courageous souls sign up to write 50,000 words in a month.

I don’t have any official connection to NaNoWriMo, but I think it’s a fantastic tool that I recommend to my writing students.

The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I wrote 50,000 words of a novel. I just freewrote like mad, which was fantastic AND had the result that lots of things didn’t end up connecting. I realized that I’ll get even more out of it this time if I do some good planning ahead of time.  I’m going to make specific plans for what I’ll be writing.  It’ll probably change along the way, which is perfect — I just want to have a working structure (not a straitjacket) in place so that I can keep going instead of wasting time wondering what to write about.  I figured some of you might like to join me in that process, so I’m excited to share my toolbox/toybox with you.

Q. How will the online course work? What technology do I need?

All you need is a gmail address and weekly online access.

Everyone in the workshop will receive password-protected access to the “Blueprint Your Book” Clubhouse — a secret spot on the web (ok, on my website) for participants only.  We’ll also have a google group to communicate.

If you don’t have gmail, I’ll walk you through how you can create an account for free.

If you think Google is the devil, that’s cool; you can still participate in most elements of the course, but you might not get to be part of some optional elements like Google hangouts.

When you sign up for the course, I’ll send you a syllabus and welcome document that will include technical details, logins, etc.

Q. I’m on the east coast — I understand that it’s online; is there any kind of group interaction? Do you have to be in the Bay Area to participate? Are there specific days/times when we must sign on?

This is an online course that you can take from anywhere, as long as you have access to your email once a week. The course will be self-paced; you post your work and you comment on others’ work on your own time. All of the weekly homework (or, as I like to call it, home play!) will be on your own time. Interaction with other students will be via a web forum where you can log in at anytime.

Q. Can I take one session at a time? What if I’m going to be away part of the time?

Each lesson will build on the previous ones. We’ll be sharing work and creating a temporary community. So, in order to keep it safe for everyone and manageable for me, there will be no drop-ins.

If you are going to be away for some of this time, don’t worry. This is a self-paced class, so you can always catch up on the exercises you’ve missed. Or you can just skip them and go back later, after the class finishes.

Q. What level of anonymity will there be?

We’ll communicate via a google group, and you’ll post your own writing and give feedback as whatever email address you use for that. It’s absolutely fine with me if you want to create an alter ego for the purpose of this workshop. We’ll also lay down some ground rules which will include not discussing or sharing anyone’s work outside the workshop. If you and I know each other socially, I will always keep all elements of our coaching/teaching relationship private, including the fact that you’re taking my workshop.

Q. How many students do you expect or will you cap?

There is no firm limit. If it gets too big or unwieldy, I’ll probably split it into two smaller “sections” rather than close it off. Since I don’t know when I’ll have the time to teach this way again, I’m reluctant to say no to anyone who’s ready and willing to move into this work now.

Q. Is there any provision for people with financial hardship?

Yes. Times are tough, right? Instead of paying the full registration fee up front, if you need to, you can make payments on the following schedule:

$120 due Sept. 15 or before your first class

$120 due Sept. 30

$115 due Oct. 15

Please note that when you sign up, you are committing to the whole course, so this is not a way to “try out” the class and hedge your bets! I trust you to honor your commitment. You can pay via PayPal or, if you prefer, you can mail 3 checks to me at once, postdated, and I will cash them on the appropriate date.

See also below for people with financial hardship based in India.

Q. Are you accepting international students?  Is there a reduced rate?

Students from everywhere are very, very welcome. In the past students from Australia, Canada, India, and Ghana have studied with me.

If you live in India AND you have limited finances, you may request a scholarship at a special reduced rate of 12,000 rupees, which is just over half the regular student rate.

Please contact me for payment options if you cannot access PayPal or if you have a question about currency conversion.

Q. My question is not answered here.

No problem. Ask me at hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com .

~

Start blueprinting now! Class begins Sept. 15.

Summertime Sale: Perfecting Your Proposal

Are you sweating over a grant proposal, project description, business document, or artist statement?  I can help!  I’m running a special offer that includes both strategic advice and detailed line editing of your important document, up to six pages (perfect for Fulbright applicants). You can use my services at any time — no expiration date — as long as you book and pay before July 15, 2012.

The awesome deal:

For just $310, you can get a jump on those fall deadlines AND make your summer more relaxing with:

  • a content edit of your first draft, including comprehensive written feedback that you can refer to later as you revise (normally $150 for 6 pages);
  • two half-hour coaching calls with me (normally $120 per hour); and
  • a content edit of your second draft, OR a triple-read line edit to polish your final draft (normally $180 for 6 pages).

That’s $310 for a $450 value — a savings of 31%.

Why?

As a professional editor with two decades of experiences, I’ll listen to your ideas, help you identify the best way to present them, and then make your prose perfect. I’ve successfully created grant proposals for multimillion dollar projects for various agencies. My proposals for my own projects have earned me a six-figure book deal, career promotions, artist residencies, and multiple fellowships including a Fulbright. Most importantly, I love uncovering the gems in your ideas so that your proposal is not only compelling and correct, but also irresistible.

You’ll end up with a polished document that reflects your fantastic idea, and that you can use again and again.

Ready to save time, money, and effort?

Fantastic! Just send $310 via Paypal to hajratwala [at] gmail [dot] com, and then email me with your project details and deadlines.  I’m excited to work with you.  Don’t forget to lock in this special discount rate before July 15!

Questions? Not sure?

Ask me whether working with me would be right for your proposal.  Just tell me a little about your idea and yourself, and we can go from there.

Thinking global?

If your project involves international travel, why not consider a Fulbright? It’s not just for academics, so check out Everything I know about YOUR Fulbright chances and see if you could qualify! Deadlines are in August and October.

Wishing you a wonderful summer,

Minal

 

Writing From the Chakras, Sept 15-Nov 10, online class

NOTE: Enrollment for this class has ended, but it’s not too late for you! Please email me if you’d like to receive a note when the next course enrollment opens, or if you’d like to work your way through the class materials as an independent student.

announcing…

Writing from the Chakras

An Online Writing Workshop

Sept. 15 – Nov. 10, 2011

with Minal Hajratwala

Are you ready to jumpstart your writing and discover new, exciting sources to fuel your creativity? Writing from the Chakras is a body-based writing system that leads to fast, energized, powerful, breakthrough writing. In this 8-week online course, we will tap into the seven levels of human experience that make up rich, versatile writing. Whether you want to write ancestral memory or science fiction … a high-impact fight scene for your action movie screenplay (root chakra! survival!) … or a moment of epiphany in your subtle and elegant short story (crown chakra all the way!) … this workshop will offer a plethora of tools and play to make your writing come alive. Fun creativity exercises, tools for engaging mind/body/soul in our writing, and work that heals trauma and busts through blocks: Join the journey. Isn’t it time to get in touch with the most powerful possibilities in your creative work?

(image by Izolda Trakhtenberg)

This online workshop is suitable for all levels of writers, from beginning to experienced, and you can join from anywhere in the solar system. You will have the opportunity to share work and receive feedback in a supportive, vibrant, temporary community. The focus is on generating new work and developing robust creative skills in order to free your writing to take a great leap forward.

All genres and genders are welcome.

Fee: $215 US, 4500rs India.

Dates: We start September 15 and finish November 10, 2011.

Registration: Pay $215 by PayPal to hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com to reserve your space.

Questions? Please scroll down for Frequently Asked Questions, or email me.

About the Instructor

Minal Hajratwala is the author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which has been called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post. The book won a Pen USA Award, an Asian American Writers Workshop Award, a Lambda Literary Award, a California Book Award (Silver, Nonfiction), and was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Writing Prize. She spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family.

Ms. Hajratwala was a 2010-2011 Fulbright Senior Research Scholar based in India, researching a novel while also writing poems about the unicorns of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley civilization. She is the editor of The Queer Ink Anthology: Contemporary LGBT Stories of India, forthcoming in 2012 from Queer Ink Publishing. Her creative work has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council. Her one-woman show, “Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium,” was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day in 1999.

As a journalist, she worked at the San Jose Mercury News from 1992 to 2000 as an editor, reporter, and the newspaper’s first reader representative (ombudsperson). She was a National Arts Journalism Program fellow at Columbia University in 2000-01. She is a graduate of Stanford University.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How do I sign up for Writing from the Chakras?

A.

The quickest way:

Via PayPal.com, submit a payment of $215 to hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com. You can use Paypal funds or a credit card. You’ll get a confirmation from PayPal immediately, and a welcome email from me by Sept. 10.

If you’ve never used PayPal, don’t worry. It’s easy, takes about 3 minutes, and you don’t even need to set up an account. Grab your credit or debit card, then just follow these simple steps:

• Go to www.paypal.com

• Click on “Send Money”

• In the box that says, “Send Money Now,” enter the amount $215. Under “My payment is for,” choose the option that says “Buying Something.” (This means that I pay the PayPal fee, not you.) Click Continue.

• Under TO, enter hajratwala@gmail.com. Under FROM, enter your email address. Click Continue.

• Enter your credit/debit card info and follow the directions to finish. That’s it!

Other good ways:


If you prefer to mail a check, ask me for my address.

Or send your owl / passenger pigeon / unicorn. Please do not pay in leprechaun money, though.

Payment is due in full before your first class, unless… scroll to the bottom of this FAQ.

Q. I’m on the east coast — I understand that it’s online; is there any kind of group interaction? Do you have to be in the Bay Area to participate? Are there specific days/times when we must sign on?

A. You can take this course from anywhere if you have access to your email once a week.

The course will be largely self-paced; you post your work and you comment on others’ work on your own time. All of the weekly homework (or, as I like to call it, home play!) will be on your own time.



Live interaction will be optional, via 3 webinars (web seminars). We’ll work out the times for these webinars based on who’s in the workshop. Everyone registered for the course will have access to recorded versions of the sessions, so you can always catch up later.

Q. Is yoga a requirement?


A. No. We’ll explore a cornucopia of ways to tune into the energies of the physical/metaphysical body. Some of those might be about things to try in the context of your own physical practice — whether that’s yoga or dance, reiki, skateboarding, walking the dog, ec. All of the ‘assignments’ are optional so if it doesn’t work for you, choose something else; you’ll get plenty of choices each week.

(If you happen to be in San Francisco, Oakland, or Chicago, bonus news: I’ve taught Writing from the Chakras with yoga instructors who teach regularly in those cities. In case you’re looking for a yoga class to complement our chakra work, I’d be delighted to refer you to a teacher who is familiar with the concepts we’ll explore here. Again, not a requirement at all, just a bonus!)

Q. What are the dates? Can I get a sneak preview of the syllabus? How much time should I allot?

The assignments are flexible and each week, you’ll be given a choice of things to do. You’ll probably want to allot at least 1 hour a week. If you got excited and did everything on the list, you might spend up to 4 hours a week — or even more, if you decide to write write write!

Wednesday online course ‘assignments’ go out:

Sept. 15: Intro plus (1) The Root Chakra

Sept. 22: (2) The Sexy Chakra

Sept. 29: (3) The Power Chakra

Oct. 6: (4) The Heart

(We will take two weeks with the heart. This is an opportunity to take a breather, explore deeper, and catch up.)

Oct. 20: (5) The Throat

Oct. 27: (6) The Third Eye

Nov. 3: (7) The Crown

Nov. 10: Integration & Celebration

Weekend webinar tentative dates*:

(*We’ll schedule these sessions once I know everyone’s time zones. The sessions will be recorded, too, so if you miss them, you can always catch up later.)

Sept. 24 or 25

Building a Strong Foundation: Writing from the Lower 3 Chakras

Fight scenes, sex scenes, power struggles, ancestor work, our deepest dramas.

Oct. 15 or 16

Manifesting in the World: Writing from Heart, Throat, Hands

Are you really saying what you want to say? Dive in, unblock, and get to the truth of the matter.

Nov. 5 or 6

Connecting to Source: Writing from the Third Eye and Crown; Integrating the Energy Spine

Vision and transcendence, writing that flies off the page and into the ether, the future, alternate universes and beyond.

Q. How will the online course work? What technology do I need?

A. At the beginning of the course, I’ll send you a syllabus and welcome document that will include technical details, logins, etc.

In brief:

A google group will be our main tool for communicating with each other. (You do not necessarily need a gmail address or google profile for this.)

I’ll host 3-4 webinars (that’s web seminars) to cover key concepts and share what we’re all learning. These are optional. You can use a regular land or mobile phone to dial in, or you can log in via computer.

The tech basics you will need are:

• An email address.

• A computer with access to email once a week.

Optional tech:

• A gmail address for accessing the full features of google groups. (We won’t be using Google+, so you can use a pseudonym, in case you’re worried about that.)

• A phone, or a computer with audio or video capability, to dial into the webinars.

Q. Can I take one session at a time? What if I’m going to be away part of the time?

A. Each lesson will build on the previous ones. We’ll be sharing work and creating a temporary community. So, in order to keep it safe for everyone and manageable for me, there will be no drop-ins.

If you are going to be away for some of this time, don’t worry. This is a self-paced class, so you can always catch up on the exercises you’ve missed. Or you can just skip them and go back later, after the class finishes.

Q. I just saw this and it’s already past Sept. 15! Can I still join and catch up?

A. Before Sept. 24, yes. You’ll have a little catching up to do but it should be fine. After Sept. 24, please email me at hajratwala gmail com.

Q. What level of anonymity will there be?

A. The group will be together as a google group, and you’ll post your own writing and give feedback as whatever email address you use for that. It’s absolutely fine with me if you want to create an alter ego for the purpose of this workshop. We’ll also lay down some ground rules which will include not discussing or sharing anyone’s work outside the workshop.

Q. How many students do you expect or will you cap?

A. I’m really not sure, right now I’m open! If it gets too big or unwieldy, I’ll probably split it into two smaller “sections” rather than close it off. Since I don’t know when I’ll have the time to teach this way again, I’m reluctant to say no to anyone who’s ready and willing to move into this work now.

Q. Is there any provision for people with financial hardship?

A. Yes. Times are tough, right? Instead of paying the full registration fee up front, if you need to, you can make payments on the following schedule:

$55 due Sept. 15 or before your first class

$55 due Oct. 1

$55 due Oct. 15

$50 due Oct. 31

Please note that when you sign up, you are committing to the whole course, so this is not a way to “try out” the class and hedge your bets! I trust you to honor your commitment. You can pay via PayPal or, if you prefer, you can mail 4 checks to me, postdated, and I will cash them on the appropriate date.

Q. Are you accepting international students?

Yes. If you are based in India and have limited finances, you can apply for a special reduced rate of 4,500 rupees, which is about half the US student rate. Please contact me at hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com for payment options if you cannot access PayPal.

Other countries, the course fee is $215 US. Please contact me for payment options if you cannot access PayPal or if you have a question about currency conversion. Thanks!

Q. My question is not answered here.

A. No problem. Ask me at hajratwala {at} gmail {dot} com .

Pondering online writing workshops (2nd post)

Thanks everyone for the quick feedback on my two ideas for online writing workshops!

I just did some thinking and calculating about the prep time and reading time that it would take me to really do this. And guess what — I think I initially lowballed myself.

The Book Proposal Master Class would definitely be more time in terms of reading and providing individual feedback, so I’m thinking that would end up being about $400 for the 8-week course. That still seems reasonable compared to other US-based writing classes — a lot of people charge that for just a weekend — and presumably you would eventually reap a return on that investment when your book sells. :) What do you think?

For Writing From the Chakras, I think could stay affordable at around $25 a class, which adds up to $200 for 8 weeks. I would want people to commit to the whole course, but with a payment plan option, since a couple of people said paying class-by-class would be easier than coming up with a big amount up front. I hope that’s still in the ballpark for people who wanted that one? Or is that just too much?

I think I need to write up a better description of that one, too. It has a New Age woo-woo feel to it, which totally works for some of us, but it’s also a super practical approach that lets me tap into different levels of writing. It’s about developing skills to write everything from a high-impact fight scene for your action movie screenplay (root chakra! survival!), to a moment of epiphany in your subtle and elegant short story (crown chakra all the way!). I can see people writing everything from ancestral memory to science fiction in this class.

Also to clarify — I don’t think I’d prescribe any *particular* physical practice for the Chakras class. Rather, I’d offer a range of suggestions for ways to experience the energies of the physical/metaphysical body and tap into that. Some of those might be about things to try in the context of your own yoga or other physical practice, IF that’s something you want to try, but it wouldn’t be a requirement.

I’m still thinking about some of the other things people are asking. How will it work? Which online platform will I use? Hmm, great questions!

I think most of the work would happen via an email from me and individual assignments being turned in / shared back. That way you can work in your own time zone without being tied to a particular time of day. But probably a “live” session at least once in a while would also be helpful and important.

So friends, help me here — have you taken online classes before, if so what combo of technologies worked best, how did it end up feeling? Anyone got an inside scoop on hot new tech tools for this kind of thing?

Mary Anne showed me what Google Plus looks like, and the “hangout” function does seem like it would be cool for a writing discussion. But I’m wary of Google’s nonconsensual record on privacy and its issue about people having to use their real names.

Skype has a videoconference function that apparently works well, with a text chat sidebar for people whose connections are too slow or who don’t want to video. That might be good.

And even Facebook now has a group chat function (text only). If you’re already on Facebook, maybe that’s easiest? Or would it be too distracting, since the rest of your Facebook would also be active at the same time?

Thoughts, ideas, feedback?

Anyway thanks everyone for the enthusiasm and interest! My brain is now brimming with fun writing exercises and curriculum ideas for both classes. I think I’ll work on the course descriptions and throw them up in the next few days.

Want me to teach an online writing workshop?

Landed! And, coming off my adventures in the Midwest, I’m considering teaching an online workshop. Folks have been asking about it for a while now, and now that I’m not planning to travel too much for the next few months, I think I could put it together. On the flight back to SFO today, I thought of a couple of ideas. Would love to hear feedback, thoughts:

• Idea #1:


    Book Proposal master class

8 weeks (or 10?) in which you get your nonfiction book proposal done. I guide you through each section, give regular assignments, offer feedback, and we workshop with the class. We’d start in Week 1 with honing your book idea, and by Week 8 you’d have a solid draft of your book proposal and a clear direction for what you need to do next and shopping for agents/publishers.

• Idea #2:


    Writing for the Chakras

8 weeks — 1 week per chakra with a wrapup session. This is a body-based writing system that, in my experience, leads to fast, energized, powerful, breakthrough writing. It’d be suitable for anyone who wants to integrate a physical (yoga, etc) practice with a writing practice, wants to jumpstart their writing/a particular writing project, or just wants to experiment with a lot of fun creativity exercises and energetic work. Breaking through blocks and healing trauma is a natural outcome of this work, and I would envision this as a more process-oriented course that allows you to get in touch with the most powerful possibilities in your creative work.

I think I could start a course around Sept 6 and run it through early November. I’d have to figure out how many students and at what rate would make it a fair expenditure of my time. I’m thinking something like $20 a week at the low end of a sliding scale would be affordable, maybe?

So, what do you think? Would you take a class like either of these? How much would you pay? How much ‘homework’ or time per week would you want to dedicate to such a class? What would be the most useful or exciting aspects that would make it worthwhile for you?

By the way, both these ideas came directly out of my mini Midwest “tour” last week. I was reminded of how much I love talking to writers about writing! I love telling people the scary, exhilarating truth that their ideas are amazing and that they can do it.

In Detroit I did a marathon of one-on-one sessions at the Asian American Journalists Association convention, with super smart journalists whose book ideas just blew me away. Some of the writers were working in straight journalism, some in other genres (one genius young woman sweetly asked, “Is it ok to talk to you about creative writing?” Yes!). In each session, I felt great about the way I was able to help people clarify their ideas, find the strongest thread, and clearly see the next step in their process.

In Chicago I had a coaching session the next day with a client who’s done simply amazing work since the last time I spoke with her. I could see the energetic shift in her body. I also taught Writing from the Chakras, the second time I’ve taught this class in collaboration with a yoga teacher, and I swear at least a couple of the students walked out of the room glowing.

Now… off to shower, maybe catch a nap, and enjoy my first Mum-made meal in 10 months!

*

PS: Had some more thoughts based on feedback to this post. Click here for update!

Back to the Midwest

Detroit & Chicago writers: Do you want to write, learn, breathe? Why not schedule an individual coaching session with me? To see what you get, click here. And then, if you want to meet, just email me. It’s easy, and I do expect my time to fill up fast, so book your slot early!

Individual coaching appointments available:
Detroit: August 12-13, 2011
Chicago: August 14-15, 2011

Yes, I’m heading out of India — hard to believe 9 months have gone by so quickly. I’m swinging through the Midwest to visit family and friends and do some events on my way back to California.

My public events on this trip are as follows:

8/12 Detroit: How to Write and Publish Your First Book, panel at the Asian American Journalists Association annual convention

8/14 Chicago: Writing from the Chakras, a yoga and creative writing workshop (no experience necessary!)

I’d love to see you, please come by! For all the details, please check out my events page.

I’ve also got upcoming fun stuff in San Francisco in August. And in Chicago, I may be doing a house party/fundraiser for the writers organization DesiLit. Stay tuned!

Hope to see you!

Call for Submissions: Queer Indian Stories

I’m very excited to be editing a new anthology of contemporary LGBT writings in India. The first deadline for queries from writers will be March 15. Please do share with anyone you think might be interested — writers, communities, listserves, etc.!

Queer Ink announces

An Invitation to Writers

to submit to

The Queer Ink Anthology:
Contemporary LGBT Stories of India

Queer Ink, India’s first online bookstore (www.Queer-Ink.com) for everything queer, seeks YOUR stories for an exciting new anthology of diverse, contemporary LGBT/queer stories.

Building on the work of other groundbreaking historical anthologies, we are seeking dynamic stories of people living in India today who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, hijra, kothi, queer, genderqueer, or other gender-non-conforming identities.

Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.  Writers may be of any gender identity as long as the story features a primary character who is queer.  Rural or urban, gritty or sunny, Mills & Boon or Midnight’s Children — all writing styles and experiences are invited.  Diaspora writings are also welcome as long as there is a strong connection to India in the main character’s life. Excerpts from longer works (novels, memoirs) are welcome but must be able to stand alone.

We will be seeking a mix of established and emerging writers. A panel of editors/curators led by Minal Hajratwala (award-winning author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents) will select the stories.

We welcome regional language submissions and, for selected stories, will work with authors and translators to create English versions. The anthology will be in English. 

All accepted stories will go through a professional editing process in which writers will retain ultimate control of story content.

Writers will be paid 1,000 rupees per story plus two copies of the anthology.

Guidelines for Submission

Please email anthology@queer-ink.com no later than March 15, 2011, with the following:

• 200-word description (synopsis) of your story. (This description should be in English and state the language of the original story, if other than English.)
• Your name*
• Your pen name, for publication purposes, if different
• Email address
• Phone number
• City, state, and country of current residence
• Brief biographical statement about you (1-2 sentences)

Our strong editorial preference is for unpublished works, but we will consider stories that have been published in a very small circulation publication or website, or a non-English publication. Please disclose any prior publications in your email.

(OPTIONAL)  If completed, you may also attach the full story. Please follow these guidelines closely:  Use a standard font, 12 point, double-spaced type.  Include the word count of your story on the first page.  On every page, please include your name (or pen name), story title, and page number.  Submit your story as a .doc or .rtf file — all other other file types will not be opened.

If you prefer to submit by mail, please send to: P.O Box 7623, Malad (W), Mumbai 400.064.

Mailed submissions must be postmarked by March 15, 2011.

We will contact you by April 1 if we are interested in seeing the full story.

Completed stories will be due by April 30, 2011.

*A NOTE ON ANONYMITY:
We welcome submissions by writers who prefer to use a different name in print.  If your story is selected, we will need your real name for legal purposes, including copyright and payments.  We will keep your name 100% confidential if you prefer.

Still have questions? Please email us at anthology @ queer-ink.com .

Special Offer: Book Giveaway

My publisher has kindly agreed to provide a limited number of giveaway books for silent auctions, raffles, and contests benefiting nonprofit organizations. If your nonprofit is holding an event and would like to offer Leaving India as one of the prizes, please email the following to contact@minalhajratwala.com :
- Your name
- Organization name
- Address to which the book should be mailed
- Date of the event (IMPORTANT: We need at least one month in advance, because the books are mailed at the bulk media mail rate. There are no rush orders for this offer.)
- Publicity benefit (for example: web site listing/link, program listing, program advertisement, announcement at event, etc)

I’m excited about this opportunity to help out good causes. We’ve already tried it twice for silent auctions, and each time attendees were willing to pay above the cover price; one person paid $46 for a book, 100% of which benefited the organization! (Thanks to APIQWTC and Trikone for being the guinea pigs for this special offer.)

Please note that because these books are provided by the publicity department, the event must include some visibility for the book. Examples: exposure on a silent auction table, web site listing/link, program listing, program advertisement, raffle announcement at event, etc. Also please note that the book will be sent to you directly from the warehouse, so if you’d like me to sign it, we will need to make those arrangements after you receive the book. Thanks!

The Book Writing & Publishing Blueprint Workshop

A two-day book writing workshop

Are you ready to transform your ideas, chapter drafts, and research notes into a powerful blueprint for a published book? Published author Minal Hajratwala will lead a two-day intensive book-writing workshop Saturday October 10th and Sunday October 11th, 2009. The workshop will give participants a writing toolkit to develop and finish a book AND a business strategy to publish a book. Minal’s recent publication and success of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents positions her as a writing mentor with valuable insight and a fresh perspective on the book business and the creative writing process.

This is a unique opportunity to access a published author’s firsthand knowledge and experience of her journey from creative book idea to a critically acclaimed publication. The workshop is set up for a limited set of participants, so each participant will receive individualized attention and focus on works in progress through topic discussions, writing exercises, and question and answer sessions.

About the teacher

Minal Hajratwala is the author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which has been called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post. She spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family. She is also a performer, poet, and queer activist based in San Francisco. Her creative work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and theater spaces, and has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she currently serves on the Alumnae Leadership Council. Her one-woman show, “Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium,” was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day in 1999. As a journalist, she worked at the San Jose Mercury News for eight years, was a board member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, and was a National Arts Journalism Program fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2000-01. She is a graduate of Stanford University.

The Book Writing & Publishing Blueprint Workshop:  Agenda

DAY 1 — The WRITING PROCESS

The writing process: how to structure one’s time, process, support and what it personally takes to finish a project.

Breakthrough to write: how to deal with inner criticism, obstacles, and blocks to write the book only you can write.

• Narrative structure: themes and narrative drive that unify a longer piece of work.

• Storytelling: discovering narrative threads.

• Finding the depth and layers of your story: research and inspiration.

• Editing and revision during the creative process.

DAY 2 — The BUSINESS STRATEGY

• Navigating the book business.

• Creating your platform as a writer.

• Finding an agent: pros, cons, and how to go about doing it.

• Writing a query letter.

• Having a hook: pitching your work.

• Writing and submitting a non-fiction book proposal that makes you stand out from the crowd.

• Editing process in the publishing house.

• Resource list: books, publications, and websites that are helpful.

NOTE: Minal will send out an email detailing some advance reading to prepare for the workshop in order to maximize our time together.

Yes, tell me the details!

WHEN

The Book Writing & Publishing Blueprint Workshop

The Writing Process: Saturday, October 10, 2009, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Business Strategy: Sunday, October 11, 2009, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

WHERE

San Francisco Bay Area (details upon registration).

FEE

$150 per day, or a special rate of $200 for the whole weekend.

ELIGIBILITY

Writers of all backgrounds and all genres (fiction or nonfiction) are welcome. Participants should have a book in progress or a book idea that they are willing to work with for the purposes of the weekend.

REGISTER

Please email Meeta Kaur at meeta@thechananas.com to reserve a seat and send a check payable to Meeta Kaur at 4561 Fernandez Street Union City, CA 94587 by September 1st, 2009. To maintain individualized and focused attention for each participant, workshop size is limited, so please confirm your participation soon.