An online workshop for writers in (and out) of all genres, anywhere you find yourself.
A support structure for your new writing.
A place to find community, conversation, and challenge no matter where you live or what your schedule is like.
Open to all serious writers for whom the magic of this work is an absolute YES.
SCRIBE LAB would be a good fit for you if:
You write. (Verse, prose, hybrid work, cross-genre… all are welcome.)
You are looking to put writing closer to the center of your life, and seek community with others who are in that same place.
You are eager to be recognized for your unique gifts and pushed in those (and new) directions.
You need deadlines and accountability to write at all, to undertake or complete a major project, or to try something new.
You are someone who travels lots, has a nontraditional schedule or seasonal commitments or child care challenges, is going through major life transition, or otherwise plugs in best to virtual community.
You are hungry to have consistent readers for your work over a longer period than most workshops allow.
You are mature and open enough to engage and support literary work that may be vastly different than yours in content, message, structure, or form.
Each month, SCRIBE LAB delivers an (open-genre) discussion/lecture, with recommended readings and related writing exercises (all applicable to new work/revision in verse, fiction, or nonfiction), on our password-protected group site. You are free to write in any direction–into or away from the exercises–at all times. You get a deadline, and individual, intensive feedback on a hearty chunk of new writing, as well as individualized exercises/suggestions for additional writing… plus feedback from at least two other writers in the lab (assigned based on your interests/projects and my intuition).
Though not strictly AWA-style, as in *all* my workshops our intention as a group will be to support both the process and the development of works-in-progress, and to offer you feedback that responds directly to your particular concerns, and meaningful questions that will keep you writing forward. (Plus lotsa lagniappe: tips about calls for submissions, reading recommendations, and new connections that will hold you responsible for your talent and help you continue defining your ambitions as a writer.)
If you’re interested in jumping in next time around, the doors open up in December for the session that starts January 1 of each year, and in June for the session beginning July 1. I’d suggest signing up for an email subscription to the blog back on the homepage so you’ll receive the announcement when it’s made. Questions?: drop me a note at rgouirand [at] gmail [dot] com.
The scribes want you to know:
I have written before about how taking Rae’s Scribe Lab changed my writerly life. But this sums it up for me: I have spent my career writing professionally. In Scribe Lab I became a writer rather than someone who writes. I became the noun rather than the process. (JR, Canton CT)
When I was trying to ignite a writing community in my neighborhood a few years ago, a girlfriend and I imagined a space called The Underground School in which masters and mistresses of the page, the word, the canvas, the instrument, the performance set, the open mic, the private art, could all teach and learn free from the boundaries and anxieties of academia and the seemingly endless red-taped starting lines of higher education. I feel that what Rae has done with Scribe Lab is to effectively pioneer The Underground School for writers and straightaway demonstrate its sustainability and global sociocultural essentialness therein. You will find what you are looking for here, and you will, face-on, ignite what you have not yet done but always knew you must within your writing. It will take you a long time–it will take at least six months, which is why each session lasts that long. As a past teacher and current supervisor–which to me means coach, mentor, trainer, and teacher of fellow adults in my field–I recognize the subtlety of knowledge, skill, and pedagogical leadership with which Rae approaches her role. She is without question one of the best teachers, coaches, trainers, and mentors in the writing realm and you will fall in love with her while she guides you to fall in love with your writing and your writing community. Then you will learn how to commit to that love, to earn it and its fruit, to water and tend it, each day, one day at a time, even on the missed days. This is underground, happening above ground. Become a scribe, and you won’t sense it right away–it will be the slightest, smallest, day by not-every-single-day happening, barely perceptible in its many tiny revolutions, until you notice that you are changed. (CB, Seattle WA)
Rae and the writers of Scribe Lab have utterly surprised me and my writing life is so much better for this community. After my MFA, I thought I never needed another workshop for as long as I lived. For three years, I wrote alone, trading work with friends once or twice a year, sometimes sticking to a schedule, often not. As it became harder and harder to find progress in my novel, I joined Scribe Lab on the recommendation of a friend. Unlike an MFA workshop, the day-to-day interaction available here is so unusual and wonderful. The monthly submissions motivated me to keep producing, but the forum and the discussion were what kept me coming back, enraptured. I’m a shy writer, superstitious and wary of over-discussing process. But the openness with which Scribe Lab operates created a new space in my heart and soul. My novel inched along, but more importantly I witnessed how other writers operate, how messy and chancey this creative endeavor feels for others as well. I came out of my first session with a whole new book project plus a pair of short stories that I didn’t have in me before. I don’t think I was capable of looking at myself in certain literary ways prior to joining this community. Rae is an true facilitator, a worker bee, a motivator, an interpreter, a resource, a friend, an oracle. If you’re at all considering joining the lab, do so with an open heart and you will reap so much. (AF, Madison WI)
I have never experienced such a gathering in the faith of writing before. Things I’ve said to Rae about her readings of my work: I’ve been sitting for days with this. So much love and intelligence here I can hardly breathe. I start reading, have to get up, walk away and return. / How much do I Iove when someone plucks things you didn’t see, things that were there but dozing in the roots? / This meticulous poem of a reading. Besides her brill takes on the work itself, her prompting around our writing is glorious. The readings she points to, the way she essays her own ideas (obsessions) re: words strung together makes for sparked thinking and making. Praise you, Rae. (DT, San Francisco CA)
Scribe Lab is one of a very few places that feels safe for whatever kind of writing space I am in. In this space, I know that the intention, atmosphere, and execution of my prose will be both respected and examined completely. Rae has a kind of x-ray vision for finding the core of a work and determining how the outlier elements can be guided back home. My writing, even in its earliest forms, breathes better here. (AD, Hillsboro OR)
Working with Rae has been profound. Scribe Lab is a private, vibrant sanctuary where writers are seen and supported. Rae brings an astounding intellect–both loving and challenging–to the space. Each time I read her feedback of my work, my jaw drops. I’ve taken to calling her the “writer whisperer;” however, now that I think about it, she’s almost the inverse. She helps writers get unbroke, shake off the saddle, get back to the wild. The lab is a place to do the work to get to the core of what each of our wild selves needs to say. I’ve never had a teacher bring so much deep holistic attention to students’ work. (RL, Los Angeles CA)
It was a strange hunch that led me to join Scribe Lab, an intuition that has proved to be more fruitful for me than I would have been able to imagine previously. Having always participated in “traditional” workshops and classrooms, I was skeptical about how an online workshop might actually benefit my writing, or any kind of meaningful community or connection I could make there. Scribe Lab has silenced those doubts. Through Rae’s insightful, thought-provoking, and original prompts, my writing developed, heading in directions it had never occurred to me to move towards. What I found in this new territory was support, encouragement, and invaluable guidance. Received by gifted and articulate readers, I felt my writing, as well as my approaches to writing, expand. I’ll most certainly be participating again. (KM, San Francisco CA)
Rae reads like a hot-blooded icicle. Her belief in the possibilities of life + language flows through Scribe Lab. There is rigor and there is heart. This space is a deep invitation. (KME, Sacramento CA)
Forgive my diction, but Jesus Christ. [Rae] has found [her] calling. I have never been read so carefully, nor so well. This is gold. (SW, Montreal QC)
Rae is an amazingly talented teacher. Her comments on our written work are sharp, insightful and thorough, and the prompts she comes up each month are creative and challenging. Every time I interact with any of the kick-ass writers in this space (Rae included), I learn something new, and I’m able to apply what I learn to my writing, which has been extremely helpful for me. Truly, I can’t say enough good things about Scribe Lab. (LW, Albany, CA)
Scribe Lab has given me the boost I needed to develop and maintain a consistent writing practice. Daily check-ins with other writers keep me accountable to myself and inspire me to keep going. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing there are writers in just about every time zone who are reading your work and cheering you on. Rae takes writing very seriously—writing in general and yours in particular. She is forever in your corner, to encourage you if you need it, to stand back and let you work in your own way, in your own process, if you need that. She writes alongside all the scribes. She shares what’s working in her writing and what she’s challenged by. She encourages a sense of community that I was hungry for and that I wasn’t able to find locally. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of Scribe Lab and I will be continuing on as a member indefinitely. (AH, Aloha OR)
No matter where you are “at” with your writing, I very highly recommend that you consider Scribe Lab. I came into Scribe Lab having not written creatively with any regularity for several years, and the community Rae fosters has helped me to re-prioritize writing in my life. I have at times felt like an outsider because so many of the fellow scribes in my group were already successful published authors working on impressive, concrete projects. But Rae and all the scribes welcomed and encouraged me, and through the Lab, I’ve found a space where I can feel comfortable sharing work that I don’t like, work that I don’t think readers will like, work that’s unfinished, work that’s experimental, etc. Every time I share, I get valuable feedback that helps me figure out where to go next. The opportunity to read new, often unfinished work from and interact with other writers has also been invaluable. I’ve gained new sets of questions to explore and the motivation to explore them. (AK, Pittsburgh PA)
All hail Scribe Lab! I can’t say enough about how this online writing community has kept me moving on a big, existing project while opening me up to explore new, quite unexpected writing endeavors. Rae’s thoughtful, challenging “labs”–mini-lectures complete with perfect writing prompts and assignments–drop like jeweled invitations into my e-mail inbox at the beginning of each month. I feel my work shifting around in ways both alarming and wonderful. Rae’s personalized comments on my work always push me exactly hard enough. It’s a kind of magic she wields. The other participants are terrific too. I’ve really come to appreciate and even crave the feedback I’m getting, which is always intelligent and deeply sensitive. Thank you, Rae, for creating this space. (NW, Davis CA)
I’ve been a part of Scribe Lab off and on since the first session, and every time I return, it’s like coming home. Rae creates/fosters a community of writers who become dedicated to one another as we develop our dedication to our craft. It’s an amazing and diverse group, a safe and challenging space to push toward our edges in the company of brilliance. Rae’s feedback is the kind that locates heat and inspires me to return to the page. There’s a really great hearth in this home. (EC, Portland OR)
Scribe Lab provides a safe, encouraging, inspirational space to share writing and more importantly, commiserate with others about fears of writing, fears of failing, fears of aimless pursuits and pointless dreams. It’s a virtual gathering that’s as strong as a hug, as swift as a kick in the ass, and as propelling as a rocket piercing the atmosphere. Pull on your white coat, bring your beakers and pipettes, and come prepared to work in this laboratory of imagination and craft and words. (LM, Manhattan Beach CA)
Scribe Lab has been magical for me: a working mom who struggled to find time to write. Turns out, I had the time, just not the motivation and encouragement of an online writing community. I’ve been able to do my own thing in Scribe Lab, trying my hand at essays, fiction, conceptual humor, even a newspaper column. At every turn, Rae and the gang were nothing less than enthusiastic and helpful, even as I veered into deeply eccentric territory or–as they say–“found my voice.” Somehow, within a few months, I had my own column in the local paper, and my love of writing has never been greater. (MS, Davis CA)
Scribe Lab has reawakened my writing life from a ten-year sleep. Rather than starting where I left off, it supports me to be better and more mature as a writer and a person. (SB, Milwaukee WI)
When I first joined Scribe Lab, I was not sure how an online writing community would compare to an in-person workshop. I have been delighted to find that the Scribe Lab community is one of the most supportive workshops I have ever been a part of. Rae offers incredible support and enthusiasm for the work that people in this community produce and has amazing insight for how that work might develop further. This community has become a very valuable part of my writing life. (RN, Ann Arbor MI)
In the two sessions I’ve participated, Scribe Lab has prompted me to revive and sustain a nearly-daily writing practice that had long been dormant and also to (surprise!) start and write a good chunk of a new novel I didn’t know I had in me. Along with helping my productivity to skyrocket, the lab has also given me more confidence as a writer, and more confidence to claim that identity. The flexibility of the format and the energy and encouragement of Rae and all the other participants have made this space a unique and utterly fruitful writing community. (KW, Sacramento CA)
My time in Scribe Lab has embedded in me the idea that yes I am a writer. That the process of writing is the important bit. That there is magic in writing and writing until something opens up inside me and on the page that is new and unfamiliar and exciting–to me. Now and again I look back at my writing from Scribe Lab and Rae’s comments and take heart. I could take one of her exercises or one set of hercomments and find material and motivation to keep me going for a year. Rae opens up infinite possibilities and writing adventures. Relentless. Empowering. I can almost hear her cheering me on from over here! (TK, Hereford UK)
Rae’s students learn their work is an extension of their lives and their place in this world. Rae brings people’s dreams of writing with purpose to life. Through thoughtful, meditative discussions and feedback, she builds a strong foundation in the elements of craft, and teaches her students how to access what is deep inside and how to identify with it. Prepare to stretch and explore yourself and your work within this warm and welcoming community of writers Rae has cultivated. (JJ, Sacramento CA)
…I moved across the country and went though an enormous amount of upheaval, but the writers in the group were always there, always positive, always ready to make this part of my life worthwhile and meaningful. But the best part was Rae’s guidance, which has fundamentally and wonderfully changed the psychological and creative space from which I write, and I couldn’t be more grateful. (GR, Chapel Hill NC)
I’ve discovered a new writer me, and I love her! (EC, Philadelphia, PA)
In three sessions, Scribe Lab has contributed more to my growth as a writer than I could have imagined before joining. Rae is an exceptional teacher with razor sharp skills in giving feedback that both pushes you to new levels and builds on your talents as a writer. The community is open, adventurous, and diverse. I could not recommend it more highly. (RS, Silverton OR)
Being a part of Scribe Lab has pushed me to invent, to write innovatively and to write beyond what I expect of myself. I’ve found great compassion and insight in the group and in particular in Rae. She’s so fully alive and her ideas, comments, and ability to intuit each student’s process has touched me deeply. Though we live on opposite coasts and never met each other in person, I feel she has, in these short few months, become an integral part of my writing process. (LS, Tequesta FL)
Scribe Lab has allowed me a space to call my own. Rae’s teaching has stretched my mind and given me the safe freedom to explore my writing–at any of its stages. The feedback from my fellow scribes has shed light on facets of my thinking I did not even realize were streaming. I am humbly grateful for this space. (SZ, Corte Madera CA)
I’m always inspired by the sense of community and shared purpose in Scribe Lab. I’m also continually blown away by the quality of everyone’s writing, the laser-like ability Rae has to find the best places to offer input for improvement, and the fascinating depths of exploration we do in readings and/or dialogue about writing. (LF, Sacramento CA)
My first session of Scribe Lab has been exhilarating, intense, and fulfilling in ways I never imagined when I signed up. I have had the great good fortune to live in Rae’s community and to have participated for a number of years in her excellent in-person writing groups, so I knew she would bring her deeply thoughtful, open, generous, complex facilitation to Scribe Lab, and she does, by the bucketful! The structure of the lab, the community of writers in it, Rae’s direction of it, literally shot me onto unexpected and very rewarding writing paths, and into deeply meaningful conversation with Rae and all the online compatriots. And, perhaps most importantly, kept my butt in the chair, writing, every single day. I’ll be signing up for the next session. (GWS, Davis CA)
Scribe Lab is the perfect space to develop as a writer. It offers community while encouraging each writer’s individual voice. It is there every day. Most important of all is Rae’s deep involvement as facilitator, mentor, and creative force. She provides structure through selected reading, exercises, and regular posts. Her response to the written word is phenomenal. Her comments on my writing have been incisive, constructive and inspirational. I credit Scribe Lab and Rae with convincing me that I can and should complete my book project. (EA, Sacramento CA)
I was embarking on a book-writing project. I was inspired and motivated and completely alone. No one else I knew was writing like this. Enter Scribe Lab, and voila! I had no idea how much I could grow as a writer by interacting with the poets, thinkers, and creative writers I met here. Rae’s inspiring prompts and assignments took my work into new directions and my personal work has transformed continually during these six months. (DM, Chico CA)
I wanted to be challenged and pushed to the next level of my writing in a loving kind of way, which I had determined I would probably get from Rae when I finally signed up for Scribe Lab. My expectations have been more than met. What I did not expect was the highly supportive community that I would be joining. These are serious writers, who experience, just as I do, events or situations that make their lives chaotic, sometimes scary, and that constantly challenge their commitment. And that is not even dealing with all the internal resistance that we all bring in various manifestations to the process. Rae is not only an amazingly energetic mentor, modeling through her own writing projects the kind of passion and stick-to-itiveness she expects from us, but also an outstanding facilitator in our online forums. What we see as an impediment she sees as a stepping-stone. Her unbounded optimism for each of her charges as writers is most unusual. In my own case, I came in writing poetry and had an idea for a short story, which I floated in the forum; now I am writing a novel, and I am astonished by this development. I am not sure I would have ventured into fiction territory by myself. (SW, Oakland CA)
I knew when I signed on for Rae’s Scribe Lab that I would never approach the page quite the same way. She is a warm, generous teacher, yet she challenges her students to dig deep inside to access their own unique stories and methods of storytelling. After years of taking “typical” craft workshops, my work had become predictable. I felt stuck. The first month or so in the lab, I felt a little like I’d just jumped off a cliff as I oriented myself to a new way of story crafting. When I pushed through the fear of learning new pathways, I produced work that totally surprised me, but felt like I’d found something uniquely my own. It’s an allusive process, and not for the fainthearted, but if you are looking to go deep into your writing, I highly recommend Rae as a guide. I’ve taken a number of both online and in-person workshops with her, and I will take more. (CB, Davis CA)
Last year, I was at a really important crossroads in my writing life. I was on the verge of truly immersing myself in the process and reality of writing and exploring my voice and sending out work, and all of this was thrilling and terrifying. I spent a lot of time poking around online for the perfect course–I wanted a space that would support and hold me and my process even in such a delicate place, that would both affirm and push back respectfully, that would challenge and brighten, and that would bring something more generative and pulpier and newer to my writing than maybe a ‘Fiction 101’ would. Rae’s ability to create a truly magical, generative, thought-provoking and loving space for writing, the sustainability of practice and the play made possible when a community of artists comes together around a deep love of the power of language and story, is so very unique. I have felt truly seen and heard and read by both Rae and my fellow scribes. I have produced work I would never have expected to and gotten back in touch with some of the silliness and fun and depth and wonderment and physicality that can be a part of letting myself love not only what I produce, but how I come to producing it. (TF, Brooklyn, NY)
As a part of Scribe Lab, I was encouraged, prodded, and pushed, in the best ways possible. The participants were serious and supportive, and gave constructive feedback. But the most important features of the workshop are the sense of community that develops, the knowledge that you can share the excruciating process of writing in a safe space, and the comfort that you are not alone when you do. Rae sets the tone, with unconditional acceptance and timely motivation. She is more than a facilitator and moderator; Rae has a gift for seeing into the work and expressing what she sees back to the writer in concrete terms. If you are reading this, you are considering signing up for the workshop–just do it. You will be happy that you did, and you will produce work you can be proud of. (JD, Redlands CA)
Scribe Lab gave me much more than any of the in-person writing workshops I’ve taken through The New School, New York University, or Mediabistro. Rae is an extremely skilled moderator. I felt like I received more time with her and the writers’ community she put together than during weekly live workshop sessions. The format allowed all of us to interact on a daily basis, if that’s what we wanted/needed, or to check in periodically. A strong bond formed immediately amongst us. Rae’s prompts and lectures are multi-faceted, rich with concepts that go beyond craft. She has a unique ability to bend the mind, to get you as a writer and a being on this earth to think in terms that break though regular two and three dimensional thought. I recommend this to anyone who thinks they are stuck as Rae will open up so many doors, so many proverbial cans of worms, that I now know there is no “stuck,” only “resistance,” something Rae does everything she can to help you push past. If you are unsure whether you should sign up, afraid you might not be able to commit, or don’t feel like you are “good” enough–TAKE THIS LAB. (AF, Brooklyn NY)
There is so much that Rae offers in her Scribe Labs (I’m in my second round right now), but I think what it comes down to in its essence is spine. Day after week after month, Rae shows up and sees you as a writer, no matter how fraudulent you might feel when you sit down to write. She sees the path you are on when you’re groping in the dark, finds connections and arcs and pinpoints words that are clues to your own voice and trajectory. As a guide, Rae is both intensely generous and rigorously consistent in her expectation to show up, to write, to keep going. She has never, not once, not met me and, in my experience, this is wholly unique to her as an instructor. Plus, she writes like a motherfucker. (RFR, Philadelphia PA)