ASFA-CW: Open House! Sat Oct 19! | 9AM – 10AM – 11AM! | @asfaschool! Lecture Hall! (#seeyouthere!)

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We’re always excited to share what we do and why we do it, so Open House is always a fun event for us. Here are a few links to check out if you’re interested in ASFA-CW:

Our Philosophy

Nuts + Bolts (Poetry + Fiction)

Selected Resources for Young Writers


Slideshow: Author Sheree Renee Thomas Inspires ASFA-CW to Turn Off the Editor and Tune In to the Creative Spirit

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This past Friday, as a part of the Ron Casey Visiting Writers’ series at ASFA-CW, we were graced by the presence of Sheree Renee Thomas, who read from her latest multi-genre collection, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, and then inspired us all with a set of feeling/thinking/writing exercises that encouraged us to shed our preconceived notions of what (and how) we’re “supposed” to write. Below the break, check out a few examples what we were able to create: Continue reading

The Secret to Success in Teen Writing Contests, or The Pros and Cons of Precociousness


Having just announced the winners of our annual statewide contests — and having just had a department-wide talk about (among other things) the pros and cons of contest success in the life of any young writer — it strikes me that it might be useful to reveal a (the?) “secret” to success in writing contests for teenagers, and what that success might really mean in the long run. Continue reading

The Space: Some Metaphors for How We Inhabit the Middle Classroom in the CW Wing @ ASFA

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We’re really lucky. We all have daily(ish) access to a creative studio space, and we get to share it with a group of talented, ambitious, curious, like-minded folks. The energy that’s produced in a setting like that can be really profound and sustaining. It’s important to remember that different people need different things from a space for it to be conducive to making cool stuff. To that end, here are some metaphors for what I think our space is… Continue reading

This I Believe: Values and Evaluations

First Things First:

This is not school.

This is a shared (sacred) space for all of us to do what we love.

This is “How to Do What You Love.”

We’re here at ASFA because “what we love” has at least something to do with what’s on the white board below:

And what’s on this one below:

But how do we evaluate whether we’re doing “what we love” in the right way?

Turns out, “what we love” requires the ability to work autonomously.

That’s why self-evaluation is the most important kind of evaluation.

That’s also why outside objective evaluation (grades, numbers, etc) is (a) very difficult and (b) not very useful when it comes to the things we love to do.

I am not very interested in attaching a number or letter grade to you. I do it because I am required to do it.

I am very interested in giving you my honest, direct opinion about your creative process as I see it.

I am also very interested in getting your honest, direct opinion about my creative process as you see it.

I don’t differentiate my teaching from my writing.

Teaching and writing (and reading and thinking) are related components of my entire creative process.

They are the most important activities in my life and they’re guided by the white boards above.

They’re also guided by the materials we’ll discuss this week, including this article from a recent NY Times Magazine article: What If the Key to Success Is Failure?

I promise you two things: (a) I will always take your work seriously (even if you sometimes don’t) and (b) I will never give up on you and your creative process (even if you sometimes do).

I believe those two promises define whether or not I’m successful in my work at ASFA.

I ask only one thing of you: that you make those same promises to yourself.

This Just In: Running Marathons Is Hard

Some people like to run marathons.

Running marathons isn’t easy. Running marathons is hard. But some people like to do it anyway. Maybe that’s even why they like it. Because it’s hard.

And the thing about running marathons is that most of it isn’t even running marathons. Most of it’s just running. A lot. Everyday (or almost everyday anyway). Nobody’s lining the street for you, holding out cups of water. There’s no big ribbon at the end. You’re just running so that, when the day comes, you’re ready to, um, run.

And there’s this too:

Nobody can do all that running for you. In fact, most people don’t run marathons — running marathons is hard! — so good luck even finding somebody to run with you.

Writing is running marathons.

Running marathons isn’t easy. Running marathons is hard. But some people like to do it anyway. Maybe that’s even why they like it. Because it’s hard.

Lucky for us, we’ve got a room full (and then some) of running partners.