instructor statement

Creative writers with whom I work, whether in classes, workshops or individually, are typically active professionals who have a short story in the bottom drawer, a half-written novel on the computer or notes and poems in a series of journals.  They’ve reached a point in their careers where they have time and resources to devote to efforts that were previously pursued haphazardly and in private.  Generally, students have a high level of education, graduate and terminal degrees and a level of discipline that comes from such study. This was also my path into writing fiction.

However, I have come to believe that none of this, ultimately, matters.  I have worked with students who can barely spell.  This is not an exaggeration. The primary starting point for any creative person, whether in writing, painting, architecture or music, etc., is, I believe, to be in possession of an original take on the world. We each have such a take.  But the artist moves more deeply into that crevice.  Sometimes this internal geography is entirely unknown to the writer. Sometimes it is flagrantly obvious from the start. What I look for in a prospective student is a willingness to explore that personal crevice, an exploration which, more often than not, requires courage. Considerable formal education can be both a help and a hindrance to such an exploration. This willingness to explore is something I foster in my classes, workshops, and when I coach creative writing privately. I also encourage it when I edit.  I believe it is from this unique and personal crevice that all brilliant work comes.  It is from this crevice that the work the world longs for, comes.

I am open to working in all prose forms, however my strength is in the novel, story, memoir, prose-poem and essay.  Academic work (books, articles and addresses) is a new interest for me.  My reading and teaching experience is limited in the area of mystery/thriller, sci-fi, children’s, young adult, travel, self-help and gothic romance.

One-to-one sessions, editing and workshops can be taken in either a face-to-face format or online depending on the student’s needs and preferences. Online options can also be tailored and hybridized to include face-to-face time.

I work with writers I believe in.  Since, in my view, this has almost no correlation to external achievements, educational level or training, I encourage anyone who is interested to contact me.

Haunting and profound, The Memory Room refracts personal history and puts it back together as powerful art…. Rakow has written a daring, brilliant book.
Howard Norman, author of  The Museum Guard and The Haunting of L