picture of a teacher's desk with an apple

Welcome to our online course. πŸ™‚

Course
English 210
Creative Writing
Section 0378
Fall 2019

Instructor
Riba Taylor

Office hours
Wednesdays 11am to 2pm by phone (details below) or by appointment. We can discuss a possible online meeting, as well.

Students already enrolled in my courses are also welcome to try to reach me at home by phone between 11am and 2pm Tuesdays through Thursdays only (Pacific time) at 760.327.9759. (I am only committing to being available on Wednesdays during these hours, but I am often available during these times, and you are welcome to try me.) Since this is my home phone, please call me only during the proffered times. Thanks.

We can arrange for phone or private online meetings at any other time if you’d like my input or help regarding your work in the course or if you have any concerns you need to address. Or, if you’d just like to talk a bit informally about writing or reading in general, class texts in particular (or ??), I’d be happy to meet you in the Chat Room of our course site or make arrangements to speak on the phone. If the above times don’t work for you, please send me a private message in Canvas and include your preference. If you’d like to arrange a phone meeting, please include your phone number and three good times to call you. Thanks.

If you are not yet enrolled in one of my courses, please use only the Wednesday office hours times to call me, or send me an email anytime. Thanks.

Letter illustration

Contact
The best way to reach me electronically is by Private Message in Canvas. I will check these often, and it’s easier for me to help you when I am already inside Canvas. But here is my email address if you need it for any reason:
rtaylor@mendocino.edu

Weekdays I will rarely take longer than 24 hours to respond. I will often check in several times a day during the week and will respond more quickly. However, if you message me late on Friday, I will not generally be able to get back to you until sometime Monday afternoon.

Note, when I can check in only briefly, I will respond first to questions in the Questions discussion thread since these will benefit the whole class.

Description
This is a college-level creative writing course. It serves as an introduction to a variety of elements central to all creative writing, including image detail, narrative presence and slow motion. Included are resources for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and playwriting. The course has a slight emphasis on creative nonfiction or the personal essay, but writers of all genres (and all levels of expertise!) are welcome. The course sets a relaxed but rigorous writing routine designed to benefit both the novice who wants to get their feet wet and the more experienced writer looking for new ways to reach your writing voice or sharpen specific skills. (Or, if you are like me, it may be the ideal way to get yourself or keep yourself writing. Deadlines can help. πŸ™‚

Student Learning Outcomes (official version!)
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1) Offer thorough, insightful feedback on fellow students’ creative work and manuscripts by marking up workshop manuscripts, writing constructive global notes, and discussing the manuscripts verbally.

2) Demonstrate the understanding of various elements of craft including but not limited to character development, setting, voice, image, poetic line, and point of view by completing a series of exercises.

3) Incorporate feedback from the instructor and peers, and revise written work into a polished, accomplished final manuscript.

picture of a crab with a hammer

Unofficial student learning outcomes πŸ˜‰
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1) identify and describe several elements of creative writing including image detail, slow motion, hook, persona writing, point of view, dialog, plot, narrative presence and character and recognize examples of them in published texts.

2) understand specific strategies for developing each element and be able to apply a specific approach in their own writing to strengthen any specific element.

3) participate confidently in a workshop with other writers, giving and receiving specific feedback on each other’s work.

4) begin to explore the writer’s life having gained an understanding of their own writing process and knowing resources they can use to continue their growth as a writer.

illustration of a stack of colorful books

Books
There are two required texts for this class. Both are available through the college bookstore:

Required

Let the Crazy Child Write, by Clive Matson

Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande

picture of students sweating over their grades!

Grading turnaround time
You can expect me to grade your work as promptly as possible. I will generally wait for the deadline before grading, and usually complete all “easy” grading within a few days of the grace day. Grading the workshops will take longer. (I will aim for one week after the grace day for these, but my “drop-dead” deadline is two weeks from the grace day. If you have a specific question about your workshop piece, you are always welcome to message me, and I’ll address your question as quickly as I can.)

woman working at the computer at night

Attitude and academics
Plagiarism or other forms of cheating are (of course!) unacceptable. When copying something word for word, or when rephrasing ideas from someone else’s text, you must cite your source. If you use someone else’s words or ideas without citing them (even only a couple), you are committing plagiarism and may receive an “F.” Other disciplinary action may also be taken.

Equally unacceptable is any “behavior” that is disruptive or has a negative impact on the class. I expect everyone to treat each other with respect and as much kindness as we can muster. In the online environment, this should be easier to do because we have the advantage of being able to think about our words before we send or “speak” them. (I talk about this more in the Netiquette section of the Getting Started module. It’s important to me.) If I feel your behavior is unacceptable, I may need to step in to “correct” you, or I may need to “speak” with you privately before you can continue to participate in the class. I don’t anticipate this needing to happen, but I feel I need to warn you that it could.

Dropping the class, or being dropped!
Please note that if you fail to participate in the online course site for over a week, you may be dropped from the class. (I recommend logging in several times per week to keep up with the discussions, and carving out set chunks of time each week for completing your assignments.) If for any reason you stop attending class, please remember it is your responsibility to drop the course. (You can do this through WebAdvisor. Be sure to visually confirm that your drop was processed.) If you don’t drop the course, you’ll automatically receive an “F.” If you don’t drop, your name appears on the final grade sheet, and I have no other option at that point but to complete the “bubble” for an “F.” No one is happy in this situation (not me, not you, not Admissions and Records), so please take the time and be responsible for your own transcripts. Even if you’ve only attended the first couple of weeks of a course, don’t assume the instructor is going to “take care of it” for you. You might luck out once or twice, but eventually it will catch up with you.

illustration of a person working with a student

College support services
We have marvelous student support at Mendocino College, and I urge you to make the effort to benefit from what is offered. We have an extensive and amazing program for students with disabilities, a terrific group of academic advisors in the counseling office (in addition to academic counseling there are special, qualified counselors who provide free personal counseling to students to help with mental/emotional/growth issues) and a wonderful library and learning center (with face-to-face and online tutors and study groups). These are just some of the student services offered, so please be sure to check these student services out on campus or via the college website. Or check with me or with the Instruction Office for more information.

Academic accommodations
The Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) offers a broad range of support for our students with disabilities (including testing and support for students with learning disabilities). If you are registered with the DRC, they will let me know what sorts of accommodations you’ll need for my course, and I’ll be happy to discuss these with you, as well. If you want them to be able to freely discuss your specific issues and needs with me, please let them know. (I believe there’s a form for this permission.) Remember, too, the DRC can also offer wonderful support in a number of ways.
Students with disabilities who believe they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. The DRC phone number is (707)468-3031, and they are located in Room 4130 on the Ukiah Campus.

Encouraging a fair and safe experience
This college and this classroom are dedicated to providing an atmosphere that affords everyone, regardless of race, ethnic background, gender, disability, age or sexual preference, the sense of feeling safe and of being treated fairly so each student will have the best opportunity to learn. If you feel you have been treated unjustly, or are having an experience that in some way impedes your ability to feel safe in the academic environment, please let us know so we can do what we can to help. I’ve already encouraged you to bring any problems you might be having in my class to me, and I echo that again here. (If need be, we can get assistance from other campus support services to help us resolve any concerns.) For issues you are unable to resolve directly with an instructor, you can contact the Dean of Instruction in the Instruction Office, and for any other concerns, please contact the Dean of Student Services in the Counseling Office.
The most important thing to all of us who work here at the college is that you have a good experience and are motivated to continue your education. We really are here to help. Please give us every chance we can to do just that.

A demanding but rewarding class
This is a demanding class, and I am an ogre about sticking to the requirements and deadlines. It’s demanding, but it can be a fun, challenging, rewarding, heartwarming, eye-opening, entertaining and growth-filled experience for all of us. I’m glad you’re here. I look forward to working with you throughout the term.

illustration of a teacher at her desk (with apple and stack of books!)