The program in Creative Writing is a rigorous, accelerated discipline for highly motivated students who want to study the art and craft of writing. CW, in its eleventh year at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, maintains a total enrollment of about 28 – 30 students. As with all arts disciplines at SOTA (see Main Site), admission is by audition, and activities take place in the afternoon, following the morning’s academic classes and lunch.
In all grades, CW students have the opportunity to study with artists-in-residence – working writers representing a variety of genres. However, freshman and sophomore students, generally placed in Creative Writing I, will spend about half their time with Program Director Heather Woodward. After demonstrating the requisite development in both writing and individual maturity, students normally move in the junior year to Creative Writing II, where the majority of instruction is with visiting artists. The two sections do combine at various times in the year.
The 2012-13 school year is the seventh in which a Senior Thesis is required. Working under the individual mentorship of an established writer in the community, each senior C-dub will produce a manuscript of substantial length that demonstrates the writing skills developed while in SOTA Creative Writing. The manuscript can be a collection of poems or short stories, a play, a novella, or a novel. The thesis will also be used as the basis for the Department’s Excellence in Creative Writing award.
A typical week in CW begins with Community Service/Internship day on Monday. This is followed by work in individual CW I and CW II classrooms on Tuesday through Thursday. Friday is Full Department day, which might feature a guest speaker, collaborative work, special projects, field trips, a relevant film, or joint readings. In addition to the daily schedule, students are presented with many options – some required, some optional – to attend readings and other literary or artistic events in the city at large. Creative Writing also has major performances scheduled on three weekends each year, and in each case the week prior is devoted to preparation and rehearsal.
Performance nights provide an important opportunity for parent involvement in CW. Parents usher, sell food, sell the department’s literary review, coordinate students backstage, and do both videography and photography for the events. But CW also relies on parents for other needs. Past parent involvement has included grant research and writing, liaison work between the department and full school, and the production of this website. Donations to the department, from parents and others, are essential in funding artists-in-residence, umläut, and other special programs.