Teaching Again!

Karen Gettert Shoemaker

Friday, June 3, 2022


I have loved getting Larksong up and running. I love the challenges and meeting new people or working with old friends – it’s all good. Well, almost. The truth is there’s not enough time in every day to get everything I want to do done, or even started. And sometimes I miss the things I used to do regularly – no I’m not talking about taking afternoon naps (though I’m not necessarily NOT talking about afternoon naps, either).

No, today’s topic, Class, is teaching. I miss teaching. I miss the kinds of conversations I have with writers when we’re all together studying a story and examining the method to the magic and learning to create it ourselves. I love that stuff!

So, like my mom and dad used to tell me, if you want something done, just do it!

And so, I’m doing it. For the first time in over a year I am back in the classroom this summer! I’ve created a class called “Finding Inspiration: Writing from Art, Song, History and Life” and I’m truly excited about it. It’s a four-week class that runs from 6 to 7:30 pm Mondays, July 11, 18, 25, August 1. The goal is to have it in-house at Larksong. However, we’re mindful of the Covid numbers and concerns so there is an on-line option if you sign up and contact me with a request.

I’m certainly not the only one teaching classes this summer at Larksong. One of our goals is to introduce new teachers and writers to our Nebraska base and our lineup of classes in the next few months do exactly that. Our teachers this session come from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, and Vermont. Some names may be familiar to you, and some may be new.

Pam Sourelis, for example, has taught a class with us before. She keeps her classes small, which is great for that one-on-one attention that we all crave, and they pack a punch. As one of her previous students described her experience, “I took Pam’s journal writing workshop and loved, loved, loved it. It is the gift that keeps on giving. I find a useful practice in so many ways with benefits I didn’t even anticipate. Pam is an excellent teacher. She keeps the class on-target and engaging…and inspires you to take what you learn and grow with it. Great stuff!” Her class on Journaling is so grounding, and I know I need that these days. She’s joining us for two Wednesdays, 7-9 pm CDT starting July 13.

Our Visiting Writers Series that we are just getting started has brought two great teachers to us, James Crews and Nancy McCabe. James led us off last week with a hybrid reading – in-house readers and online readers – then followed up with an online workshop. It was so successful we decided to do it again! You can sign up here for his one-day webinar on Friday, July 1st at 11 am CDT.

Nancy McCabe, one of my favorite nonfiction writers, is going to be in the house on June 14th.

First with a writing workshop that you need if you write nonfiction or memoir, or just want to learn some new techniques. Her workshop “Bringing Memoir Alive Using Techniques from Fiction” will meet at Larksong at 1 pm.

 At 6 pm on the same day, Nancy McCabe and Suzanne Ohlmann Are In The House! Technically they will be reading in our new patio space, but it’s all Larksong. Local singer Pam Barger will be joining them and it is going to be great! (BRING YOUR LAWNCHAIRS FOR THAT EVENT!)

In an almost embarrassment of riches, I’m going to be teaching again this fall – in Greece! That one is not a Larksong sponsored event, but it is open to the public and I’d love to see you there! You can read all about it here.

There’s more happening all the time so check in on our website periodically to see what’s new. Have a great summer, y’all! I hope to see you here, there, and anywhere!

On Time, Construction, Puppies, and Classes

Karen Gettert Shoemaker

Friday, January 21, 2022

Happy. . . um, New Year?

Is it just me or does it feel like it has been 2022 for a long time now? I mean once you get over the shock of writing such a futuristic number on your checks it sort of feels like we've been writing it for months, doesn't it? Isn't the purpose of time to keep everything from happening all at once? It’s not doing a very good job, IMHO.

But I’m not complaining. I’m simply noting that there is SO MUCH GOING ON! I know how lucky I am to work with other writers, to be a part of the lives of so many interesting people. And it’s exciting to watch Larksong grow – exciting to be involved in the process of that growth.

But still. There is SO MUCH GOING ON!

Let’s talk about the construction, first. Things are coming together. The bathroom walls are in place and – according to the plan – we’ll have the fixtures in a week or so, which means they should be in any time in the next month. The drive-through is now a patio with a door leading out to it. Note: if you drive by and see the “attractive” wooden pallets propped up along the front, those aren’t permanent. They’re just there to keep people who haven’t noticed that this is no longer a bank from driving through the new patio and dropping their car off the new ledge on the street side. We half expected the pallets to be hidden by snow by this time of the year, but that’s not happening.

I love watching the walls go up, the concrete being poured etc., but I admit I’m intimidated by the sheer physicality of these tasks. The men who have worked here so far show up looking every bit the construction guy part – that kind of gruff-faced, tool carrying, manly-man person I’ve been conditioned to expect at a construction site. I try to stay mostly out of their way. But every hour or so I take the puppy outside and when they see her, much to my surprise, they drop to their knees and start competing for her attention. While Tillie jumps and bites and falls all over herself with excitement, they become themselves, not their roles. They tell me about their dogs, about their lives. They ask about what we’re building here and how cool this old house is, and then they drop back down to play with the puppy some more.

I’m ready for construction to be complete, but I’m going to miss that part of the process.

In the virtual realm, we have online classes coming up this session that just flat out make me happy to be a writer and to be a part of Larksong. The instructors we have lined up to lead the workshops are an incredibly talented group, both as writers and as teachers. I want to attend each and every one of these classes. In fact, if you sign up you might see me in some of them!

What I love about the online classes is how many of them have led to online independent writing groups. People who come to our classes frequently keep meeting after the classes are over because they like the community they’ve found. Every time I hear of another one forming it makes me smile. (I’m just an inch away from paraphrasing It’s a Wonderful Life and claiming something about angels earning wings after each class. But I won’t. I just planted that seed in your head.)

Angel wings or not, here’s something I believe: whether in person or online, there’s magic afoot whenever writers gather. We’re working to make room for as much magic as this world needs. Join us. Become a member. Tillie won’t be the only one happy to see you.  


Larksong is committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.