Jack Grapes and Ralphie at Beyond Baroque. Photo by Ken Hively

Jack Grapes: Method Writing Approach

"Method Writing" and Student Comments

Jack Grapes in NY

WRITING FROM THE DEEP VOICE
A Method Writing Workshop: "The Craft of the Invisible Form"

Method writing is an organic approach to the creative process, a way of finding your deep, authentic voice. The method does not deal with traditional approaches to writing that emphasize structure and form—the three-act structure of the screenplay, formal approaches to the novel, etc. Like method acting, which focuses on truth and organic process, Method Writing deals with the inner voice and how it can be used to create unique works of art, true to your own voice and style, true to your own vision and point of view, true to your own life experience—whether you're writing poems, stories, novels, plays, screenplays, non-fiction, memoir, shopping lists, ransom notes, recipes, etc.

The entry level class is for both beginners and experienced writers. You might feel you're experienced enough to enter my "advanced" classes without taking the basic class, but without the basic foundation of Method Writing, the techniques presented in the advanced classes will not be as effective. I'm always telling my advanced students that the real advanced class is the first, entry level class. Mastering the process taught in that beginning class will have a major impact on your work as a writer, whether you are a beginner or a writer who has written for years. Finding the deep voice within you, learning to use its tonal dynamics, and the ability to write from the right side of the brain are the most significant skills you can possess as a writer. You will find your true voice, uncover your basic themes and life subjects, and reach your reader with a compelling voice.

There are classes on Monday evenings, Tuesday evenings, Wednesday mornings, Wednesday late-afternoons and evenings, and Thursday afternoons.

Classes used to be held in my home, but are now held in my office in West Hollywood. I'll send you a map once you enroll. To enroll, contact me at 323-651-5488, or use my contact form.

I'll be glad to mail you some brochures on the class, on my own work as a poet/writer/playwright, and a brochure on The Los Angeles Poets & Writers Collective—www.lapoets.com—which grew out of the classes and is made up of current and former students who wish to create avenues of exposure for what we do. Anyone taking a class of mine is automatically a part of the Collective, and may participate in any way he or she pleases. As we like to say, there are no dues and no meetings. Projects are generated by individual members of the Collective for everyone's benefit. Anyone can start the ball rolling on any project, and they have the resources of anyone or everyone in the Collective at their disposal. The ultimate goal is not only to provide writing workshops and seminars, but to help those poets and writers get wider exposure for their work, whether it be publication or production.

Often a piece written in class may end up being used as an acting monologue, or be expanded to become a play or screenplay. Jennifer Haft and Shannah Laumeister's One-Woman Show for Two Women, using journal entries written in class, ran for several months at The Complex Theatre in Hollywood, and a book based on the show was published. Shannah Laumeister's second one-woman show recently ran in running in New York, produced by Harvey Keitel. Sue Gaetzman just closed a run of her one-woman show, Blood Sugar. A producer who saw the show bought the film rights. Writer/director Karen Moncreif's film, Blue Car, based on work she did in class, just opened to great reviews. Juliette Jeffers's one woman show recently ran at the Egyptian Theatre. Vanessa Williams made a film based on work done in several classes. The film, Dense, is now in distribution. A number of books and anthologies, too numerous to list here, featuring work by members of the Collective, have also been published.

I'll also include a third brochure with info about my own work as a poet, playwright, actor, teacher, astronaut, and brain surgeon. Once you read through this stuff, give me a call if you have any other questions. Or just e-mail me. Once you enroll in a class, I'll send you another packet of material which includes your secret decoder ring, directions to my place with a detailed map indicating buried treasure, and what you'll need to bring for the first class, etc. Thanks again for your interest, and I look forward to working with you.

Jack Grapes portrait, bw.

Los Angeles Poets & Writers Collective at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Every year the poets and writers from class display and sell their books and chapbooks at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. Our booth is the largest one there and we attract thousands of people, we read our poems and stories and generally have a wonderful time.

LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books
LA Times Festival of Books

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Your class was one of the most incredible classes I've ever taken. —Kari Walters

Not only did I learn from you, but I couldn't help reflecting how you stayed present for all of us, being completely giving and encouraging and supportive and loving. You made us all seem less invisible. You've created a safe and inspirational place for artists and dreamers, and your method is pure genius. —Kristen Mackall

I'm proud to be part of this group of people. I've been in many acting classes over the years. And throughout all those years I've made one lifelong friend from those classes not including the actresses;). That is not to say I don't like actors. I have some very close friends that are actors. I guess what i am saying is that I have met so many wonderful people from these past two classes—people that will remain friends. Thank you for creating such a wonderfully supportive, nurturing and creative environment. —Todd Feder

When I was leaving your Saturday class, I said to one of your advanced students (the one who read the dream about her mother drowning), "How does it get any better than this?" She looked down at me for a long minute and slowly said, "You have no idea." Can't wait for the summer class." —Fran Vogel, Long Beach

I've been meaning to write to you since I left for Harvard in 1994. Your beginning writing course unlocked me enough to write my application to Harvard and earn two Masters' degrees. Much gratitude for your vision, skill, and dedication. Is there any way for me to keep refreshed while living in Cambridge. —Alison LaMonde.

I want you to know what your guidance has meant to me, even though I'm still percolating on the richness of it. I feel I was part of something special, something living, something that was greater than the sum total of all the souls collected in your living room for those nine weeks. You have such a gift for leading, for inspiring and knowing how to make that knowledge accessible and something that I feel I can hold onto. That you are continuously building a community of writers in Los Angeles is no less important than that you are continuously nourishing individuals. It's so freeing to have the focus be on the individual voice and responsibility to clarity of uniqueness. —Leslie Erganian

I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I appreciate you and what you do and how it has enriched my life. Yesterday I received "Without a Net" the chapbook by Lee Williams, who just finished your basic class. It made me cry tears of joy. So I thank you for that manifestation I knew it would be such a rich connection. I also want you to know that everything I have learned about the process, the method that you have distilled and shared, is the gift that keeps on giving. I keep finding deeper ways to use the wonderful tools that you offer. I also am so grateful to have the products that I created in class, that serve me in so many ways. I continue to write, and look forward to the next class. —Mary Holmes

I am so grateful for your life and genius, your open heart and generosity at facilitating miracles. I'm a few weeks away from the final cut on my first film DENSE that germinated in the hallowed space that is your class. It so gratifying to have accomplished this feat (with the help of some amazingly talented people working both sides of the camera). But the fact that it started in the safe space that you create when you nurture writers to give our gifts and cultivate our best selves makes it even more mind blowing. Even when you were telling us what could become of our chapbooks I didn't see this coming(though something deep inside me tingled with recognition). —Vanessa Williams

I want you to know that you've already helped me to open up a door into my writing that was closed, locked, bolted, and welded shut for the last thirty years (I wrote beautifully and often until I was 12) No small accomplishment in just two weeks of your class. Thanks —Bryan Unger

I want to thank you for the vast new worlds you have given me through this class. Trying to say just how much richer my writing life has become in the past few weeks — words simply escape me. I'm exhilarated by all the handouts, poems, and bios by and about poets I knew or had never heard of, and by your readings, energy, and the handouts on craft. You have truly changed my way of writing, of thinking about words, and I know my writing and my approach to it have changed incomparably. You've changed my life, that's probably enough. —Barbara Sax

I really loved seeing so many writers blossom under your guidance. I believe your class—or something like it—should be requisite for all creative writing programs. What you teach is so important, and so basic (though I'm not saying it's easy). —Terry Anne Kannofsky

I sent some of the work I wrote in your class to various publications, & got 2 poems accepted. Thanks for pushing me to take chances." —Sharon Duncan

There's something magical that happens each class. Time and again our writing changes, but more important, you change people's lives! Because we begin to see more clearly who we are & we find a way to say it from that simple, truthful place we all can remember if we allow ourselves to go there. Like we get to be the kid again & you're the nurturing dad we never had. Without a doubt, this is the best class I have ever taken. I was mesmerized by your ability to teach us as a group and at the same time, tune into who we were, what we needed, and guide us to where we were going. Just as writing is personal and universal at the same time, so is the way you teach. And it's all done from a place of love. —Sue Gaetzman

You probably hear this a lot, but. . . your class has changed my life! Taking your classes and being a part of this experience has re-ignited a long smoldering desire to go back and finish my degree at UCLA and pursue the creative writing program. I have been a music video and commercial line producer for almost 18 years, always supporting the creative process but never allowing my own voice to be heard. It has been a great career but for the past few years I have been searching for what is next for me. I am ridiculously busy producing six commercials through July but I plan to take the class again. Thanks again for everything! All the best —Jessica Cooper Carlson

Just another quick thanks. I too felt the many facets of a sparkling diamond. Last night's class reading book ended the class wonderfully. I got to speak to everyone individually and take those relationships up a notch. The Collective is working. I felt it last night as continuing education with you, a short film potential and the various relationships that developed outside your room were all milling about the chatter. Terrific. I do look forward to working with you again. Thanks for the tremendous support and encouragement; you make us feel able. —Ari Macht

I have to tell you that studying with you has been the most amazing experience on so many levels. Just the idea of taking some of my old emotional issues and channeling them into a positive creative process has been a revelation. Learning how to write from all of this and making a book...I will consider that gravy. Thank you for being there and for doing this...and for changing the very core of my life in the process. You just gather all of us up in your living room and give yourself away with joy...and I don't know that you fully realize the massive impact your gift has on some of us. I feel so blessed to know you. —Doreen Ringer Ross

You probably have too many of these to answer, but I want to say thank you for this class. I've never EVER been in a writing group situation that doesn't foster competition and envy amongst its members, or where the teacher isn't on some self flattering campaign for supremacy. Hearing all the wonderful work read in your class, I'm really really just glad and excited and encouraged by the process and the constant, heartbreaking and heartmending reminders that art matters and that it's worth blood and guts to do my part. So, thanks. —Lynn Cohen

Thank you soooo much for such a great class last night. The exercises that you had Scott and Valerie work through were especially. helpful. I think I'm really getting it now, and it feels great to have and understand these tools you're giving us. Also, that sense of community you talked about in your email is part of the reason I decided to take "a class," and I'm really beginning to feel that sense of community with our group. That's what the Collective is all about. SO thanks for that too; for being such a great teacher and orchestrator. I love these people and love hearing what they have to say. —Tracy Quigley

Thank you for an incredible experience. I've taken many writing workshops in my life, but I've learned techniques from you and gained confidence in ways I never dreamed possible. Now my curiosity is whetted for the next class in the fall and I am thrilled to see that so many other people are also planning to take again. The connection I made with fellow writers was also a hugely valuable part of my experience. —Kathryn Stern

Hi Jack, I'm enjoying this class. I'm blown away by the talent. Do you always collect so much talent on one setting in such a short period of time? I met some amazing people in that class. you really have a gift of bringing people together then stepping back and letting the synergy flow. it's truly a gift, Jack. —Caren Macdonald

Thanks for the encouragement. I am still on cloud nine. I owe it almost all to you and the classes. I was scared to death that first time I read in your living room, now here I am at a mike in a blues club. Amazing! I am so appreciative of your classes and your teaching. You just don't know. I don't know whether you've given any more thought to a show, but I was thinking, if so, you should also consider making a documentary. Here is this guy, Jack Grapes, who loves poetry, quotes the classics going back to the ancients, and he is trying to teach the stuff to a group of LA folks, many of whom, like me, are clueless. He's got writers looking for a kick start, entertainers, composers, actors, porno actresses, grandmas, business guys, lawyers, film directors, etc. All this going on in the Mecca of the anti culture. He's quoting Quintus Hotatius Flaccus and we're like, Say what? But he inspires a group who loves words just for their literary quality. Could they attract an audience on short pieces based purely on literary values and speaking from the soul. That's the start. Who knows where it ends? —Doug Shuit

What magic you possess and give to each of your students—students of life and art. —Kathleen Griffin

I came home and had a bookbath with everyone's chapbooks. I got in my bed cheesing at everyone's masterpiece and I started soaking it all up. I think you should have an additional class after the books come out so we can all gush on each other. I've been gushing by phone. I guess the advanced class kinda serves that purpose. Well see you in January. I am transformed and soooooooo empowered by this experience. My classmates' work inspired new entries for me, this stuff is endless Thank you again for your gift. Jack. Though I know its about the process, the product is so rewarding Jack. It's more fulfilling than the best job, acting or otherwise that I've ever had. I feel so empowered by this work. New stories are busting thru. I sit down to write one thing then out popped this whole rather bleak story about a wife beater. This process has given me permission to tell all my stories, even the ones I didn't know I was trying to tell. One more thing. One of my stories from SHINE is going to be published in Essence magazine. Vestibule is slated to come out in the April issue in the section called Interiors. Of course I'm thrilled and affirmed. Thank you Jack for facilitating these miracles and blessing in my life. I'm so grateful to know you as my teacher. —Vanessa Williams

I find this class completely humbling and inspiring at the same time. What an incredible environment you've created and how lucky am I. —Pam Putch

You are an amazing teacher. I wanted you to know how seamlessly you seemed to assist in eliciting such deeply personal work from everyone! For me the biggest revelation has been—that once the door to creativity is nudged open and if I/we can just let it flow unimpeded (like water), there is an endless outpouring—vs. holding on to something until it feels perfect and ready to put out in the world. Something has dramatically freed up for me, actually, in many different areas. So, thanks again for being the guy who gave such permission. There is some potent medicine that gets stirred in everyone reading and being witnessed. The chapbooks are all such gems I'm always amazed how different we all are and so much the same. —Georgianne Cowan

There were so many powerful pieces read tonight. We have many good writers in our class. And speaking of writing par excellence; you are a deep and visual writer. I love to read your work. I was reading your book of poetry, Breaking Down the Surface of the World again, earlier tonight. I think the people that are the best writers are the ones willing to be real with themselves. You are an amazing and beautiful being and teacher. Not to mention a very good writer yourself. You aren't afraid to speak your truth when you write. Even when it was less than desirable to look at or accept. As I said in the first class of beginning writing (this second time around): I am a fan. And I mean that with complete respect and honor. With you nudging your flock of students through the yellow brick path of "process." You inspire me. You share your courage just by willing to be 'with yourself' (whatever that may mean at any given moment). As the Latin cultural would see it: Baby, you've got balls. And don't we both know, that's what it TAKES to move through Life as opposed to being one of the walking dead. It's worth repeating: Bravo, I say. Bravo and jolly good job. —Lisa DuPree.

Since moving to San Diego, I looked around and about, trying to create a life for myself down here. I went to the Solana Beach library this week and asked the very nice librarian about writing groups, writing teachers, etc. I told her I'd been attending classes in L.A., and I missed my teacher and the writing community. She asked me questions. Is he a professor? What school did he go to? How does he teach? And, Jack, you're impossible to describe. I knew that to try to describe something like the "transformation line" and the "teeth and mouth" exercise was going to overwhelm her. I did the best I could. At one point I almost laughed out loud. You're just impossible to describe to someone who is thinking of something more conventional. I've been chuckling all week at the near impossibility of describing you or your teaching methods. Keep being indescribable. That's what makes you you. And I'm ever so grateful I had the opportunity for as long as I did to learn from you. —Victoria Melekian

Count me in for the evening session of the advanced class. Thanks so much for everything, Jack, you have made a huge difference in my life, my writing and my acting. I am very grateful, and I look forward to more! —Joannah Portman

I just recommended your class to a head hunter/job coach I met . . . It seemed a lot of his clients want to brush up on writing or get to the heart of it. Couldn't think of anyone more perfect than you!!! —Gabrielle Kelley

Thank You for teaching me how to play with my shadows and reclaim them as my own. I dove into my darkness and found my treasure chest; and slowly, I'm discovering my jewels. My voice, my truth, my self, my genius. And the best part of it is that this is just the beginning. Actually, the bestest :) part of this is discovering that "just being" is more than enough. Who knew living in between my light and my dark could be so joyful. I am filled w/abundance and gratitude. It was you who showed me that risking is a shameless act, regardless of the outcome. I closed my eyes and stepped forward—and you kept me from falling, like you promised you would. I retrieved my soul AND claimed my artist self. I am a better actor, writer, dancer, spirit from knowing you. —Diahann Reyes

This is the first creative writing class I've ever taken and it was worth the wait. For the first time in my life, I see myself as a writer (this comes and goes, but at least it comes). I can't tell you how exciting it is to see how everyone in class has grown into their voices. Even the terrifying reading aloud has helped me take some pride in my work. I still dread it, but I always feel empowered afterwards because I got through it and because it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. That's the feeling I hope stays with me when the class ends, that if I get through the procrastination and fear, then there will be a sense of satisfaction and pride on the other side. I hate going to the gym, but I always feel better afterwards. —Julie Durk

I just wanted to thank you so much for the last nine weeks . . . before i started the class i was struggling . . . really struggling with the idea that i could be a writer even though i spend more hours of the day raising my son than i do pounding the keyboard . . . and struggling with the idea that i was entitled to pursue this dream of writing at all. I feel like you must have touched me with some kind of magical fairy dust because those psychological struggles seem so remote only nine weeks later. you inspired me to take the process seriously . . . I worked really hard and at the end of it, I feel a new sense of confidence and peace about pursuing this writer's journey. —Rachel Iverson

At our first meeting, lo those many weeks ago, you (and Rikka and Laurel) said that taking your class would be a life changing experience. And it was. One thing I didn't get to say to you is that I hope you can find a way to make your class available on a DVD.While a lot of the class depends on your very precise and personalized feedback, it is a shame that more people can't have the experience of learning from you. There are so many wonderful new technologies already available that I'd bet there is something that would allow you to bring your teaching to a wider group of students. It's a thought. So anyway, thank you, Jack, for your wonderful class, for your wonderful process and, most of all, for sharing the gift of you. —Keta Hodgson

The truth of the matter is: there would be no door for which I could be a wizard, there would be no stage for which I could be a bright light if it wasn't for your generosity and commitment to people. The success of all of us is an outstanding example of what happens when someone (like you) gives. —Marianne Franco

Wanted to let you know that I got accepted into a bunch of Grad schools for my MFA in fiction. So I want to thank you. Had I not taken your class, my writing would still be confined to scrap paper and random inspiration. You set the ball rolling and now I am running after it. Thank you. —Joannah Portman