Tom Spanbauer is the critically acclaimed author and founder of Dangerous Writing. His five published novels Faraway Places, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, In The City Of Shy Hunters, Now Is The Hour, and I Loved You More (Hawthorne Books, April 2014), are notable for their combination of a fresh and lyrical prose style with solid storytelling.
Here is what Tom Spanbauer says about the art of teaching:
If you asked my mother how she made pie crust, she never said a word. Instead, she just lifted her hand and rubbed her fingers against her thumb. That's the way it is for me and teaching. It has a feel. I'm not someone who knows and the student is someone who does not know. Each person who is a student of writing is a student of life. I too am a student. Good writers know that about themselves. My job as a teacher is to first create a safe environment. It is a terrifying thing to bring your inner life out of the closet and read it aloud to a group. Secondly, I must listen for the heartbreak, the rage, the shame, the fear that is hidden within the words. Then I must respect where each individual student is in relation to his or her broken heart and act accordingly. Most of all, at the beginning, as a teacher, I must give the permission to do it wrong. In the wrongness there is a treasure. If a wrong note is played long enough, the dissonance can become the speech of angels. And last, I think, and most important, but important because it is last, when my relationship with the student is solid, and when the student has a strong foothold in his or her writing, I bring out my jungle red fingernails, play the devil's advocate, be the bad cop, the irreverent fool--whatever it takes to teach perseverance, self-trust, and discipline. Because I encourage excellence, and each of us has our own excellent, and excellence only comes with not being afraid of who you are. To learn to speak your truth honestly with a clear voice takes lots of practice, and every trick in the book to keep you going down the arduous, cruel, lonely, glorious path of a writer.
Tom teaches an ongoing weekly critique group in Portland and focused 3-5 day intensive workshops occasionally with his co-teacher and partner Michael Sage Ricci and teacher-in-training Kevin Meyer. Sign up on the contact page to be added to our mailing list or to inquire about workshops.