Henry Goldkamp

My reasons for applying to the Speakeasy Project’s “Live to Write” Class were practical ones: basically, I wanted to cross-reference my submitting/marketing process with a professional’s to see what I had right, what I had misunderstood, what I could improve on, etc. In Dr. León’s warm, welcoming virtual classroom (quite an accomplishment in and of itself, as the internet at large often paints itself with a colder, unemotional landscape), we went through the basics of what to do behind the scenes as a writer, “emerging” or otherwise.

The idea behind this class is both necessary and too often obscured: This is all the stuff they don’t tell you about in traditional workshops. Dr. León’s educational curation covered a wide gamut of topics, step-by-step, week-by-week: how to tidy up a professional cover letter; how to apply for residencies; how to compose a press kit (this was my favorite idea/practice—it’s essentially a multi-media packet enveloping a sampling of your work as a writer, updated every six months). Our small class even went so big as to sketching the basics of a book tour and making promo videos based off our work, with a little extra time for brief creative workshopping, as well as many other tactics.

To borrow a phrase from other realms, this class really “works if you work it”. The more time I invested into Dr. León’s suggested homework each week, the more I got out of it. The skills fostered in our class are ones that any writer should have in her pocket if they want to succeed in the publishing world. The industry, for many, can be a hostile monstrosity for the budding writer, especially those skirting on the margins of mainstream patriarchal, xenophobic, cisgender, my-way-or-the-highway American publishing …

within the beginning moments of the first class, I felt Dr. León’s outlook permeate the wide array of students from all over the globe: we are all equals here; we are all writers, doing our best. This great equalizing vibe let us springboard each of our ideas and feedback in turn, building up that great and inspiring kinetic energy of community that any good workshop should do—and all this on a screen from home. Mix this with an array of talented guest speakers, tangible examples of each tool in her shed, and good-good energy, and you have a class that I recommend to anyone who is interested in a greater understanding of the writing process. If you are serious about your writing, this class is for you.