My Writing Course

So I’m sitting here trying to think of ways I can continue to buy Fancy Feast for Crum the Cat. Several people have proposed that I ought to start doing dokusan sessions online via Skype and charge money for them. But that idea, frankly, makes me want to vomit. Dokusan, for those who may not know, is a private personal interview with a Zen teacher, usually conducted as part of a sesshin or Zen retreat. Though participants usually pay for Zen retreats, and though some of that money normally goes to the teacher, it is not customary to charge specifically for dokusan. Besides which, if it’s not done in the context of a retreat it isn’t really dokusan, at least in my understanding of what dokusan is supposed to be.

I’ve been sending my resume out to colleges and universities who run writing programs to see if they’ll hire me to teach creative writing. Then it occurred to me. Do I really need a university to hire me to do that? Maybe I could do that myself and eliminate the middle man.

My upstairs neighbor Dave teaches writing at the University of Akron. So I went up there and asked if I could borrow a syllabus from one of his classes. I looked it over and figured I could adapt his strategy to an online course in creative writing to be taught by me.

I’m thinking I could offer a ten week course with 4 – 6 writing assignments that I would personally evaluate. Students would get the benefit of my experience as a professional writer, which is something I’ve been doing for at least ten years before Hardcore Zen came out in 2003. I was writing all sorts of stuff for Tsuburaya Productions. And before that I wrote for zines and science fiction mags. That’s like 20 years as a writer, not even counting the comic books and shitty poetry I wrote starting when I first learned to write.

I couldn’t help get anyone published. I could tell you how I went about doing it. But I have no connections that are going to work for anyone else. I can show you how to make your work publishable, though.

In order to make this worth the time and headaches it would cost me, I’d have to charge at least $350 per student. I may have to charge more, in fact, because it would be a whole big bunch of work for me. The going rate for online writing courses appears to vary between $300 and $800. Although I haven’t been able to find any examples of someone like me, an independent published author, offering such a course. I’m sure such examples must exist somewhere. I would imagine the prestige of the writer in question would determine the price. Does anyone know of a writer who independently offers online writing courses?

So the question I’m asking all of you nice folks is: Would you be interested in taking such a course? I doubt that most of the regular contributors to this blog’s comments section are going to want to do it. So I’m hoping to hear from a few ordinary citizens. This page gets a thousand or more hits a day. So I know that it’s not just those same five guys reading it.

Remember Crum the Cat is depending on you!

112 Responses

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  1. Kurt Gielen
    Kurt Gielen March 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

    I would be interested because I recently started blogging and as I'm serious about it, taking writing lessons is part of my long term plan.
    However! If you would want me to come to you, you got to get better at marketing yourself my friend. This post (and some of your other posts) clearly show you're afraid of "selling yourself" to your future audience.
    Maybe I'm out of line here, however I admire what you are doing apart from the whole bringing yourself down thing you do. Or how else would you call your obvious issue with people who are making tons of money while doing similar things as you are doing?

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm |

    Okay, I'm not a publisher, or a writer, but I am a librarian, so I know slightly more than nothing about this…try self-publishing some of your stuff directly to eBook format rather than as traditional print media. You can get enough PR just by doing articles in Buddhist mags about how you're being all trend-setting and moving away from the traditional publishing houses. Yes, sales will go down numerically, but your royalties will increase to something like 70%. Plus, your schedule and work are your own.

    It's fairly easy to set up an account with Amazon to self publish for Kindle. One of the other major outlets is You can also sell to Public Libraries through

    Another plus is that any articles, essays, etc. that you have laying around that you still have the ePublishing rights to, you can put them up individually at a lower price, to generate a catalog fairly immediately.

    Just a thought,

    MLG in KY.

  3. Mark Levis
    Mark Levis March 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    Me! A few months ago I bought a copy of sex, sin, and zen. Very fascinating. I have been exploring Buddhism for the last few years and your book was a great form of insight to me. I live in Ashtabula county, Ohio. Do you still teach Zazen classes? I'd like to attend.

  4. Katageek
    Katageek March 8, 2012 at 5:54 am |

    To parody "The Princess Bride"

    "There's not a lot of money in the Zen business."

    That's why the haircuts are so severe, the wardrobe so limited and the world devoid of Andy Warhols.

    I suggest a Zen course instead with your books and the Shobogenzo. And you START by sending them an enlightenment certificate just for joining!

    Zazen is enlightenment. So start off with a certificate! The point is to become a BETTER Buddha after all.

    Then you can schedule Zazenkai in line with the coursework and have dokusan for the one day retreats via Skype and group discussions through or some other venue.

    Regardless of where people are in your course, the Zazenkai is pretty much be "one size fits all."

    You can't pull off retreats on line, but zazenkais or half-day sits are workable and I would pay for for such a service.

    The Kannonji Zen Center in Second Life has a pretty good following (for Second LIfe which nobody cares about anymore.)

    Like any Zen thing, the money would probably suck. I personally would pay $ 50.00 for a Zazenkai with you. If you got ten others for a session that's $ 500.00 a day.

    Do two a month and that's a grand – rent and catfood!

  5. katageek
    katageek March 8, 2012 at 6:27 am |

    One OTHER thing you could do. Is make a version of "Zombies! Run" for Zazen.

    This ap WORKS. I started running up to 4 miles a day now.

    Now, we just need one for Zazen.

    STORYLINE: The world Xanidon't is in trouble. Only the stabilizing force of a Buddha can save it. But how can we find a REAL Buddha to sit?

    Zazen is enlightenment so everyone is a REAL BUDDHA! You can be that force for good and help save Xanidon't through the Butterfly Zen Effect!


    RADIO MESSAGE: "Oh sheesh. This fucking apocalypse! People are suffering all over and it's so bad that John Steward can't even make fun of it all; Colbert is stumped and Leno lost his chin! Now look, we know it doesn't seem like much, but IF you JUST SIT and practice enlightenment our world gets a little wiser and better. So in the face of all this shit …. JUST SIT!"


    ((25 MINUTES LATER))

    ((ZAZEN BELL))

    Wow. You did it! You confronted the suffering of the world by just sitting. K. That's good. Now get up and do kinhin …


    Okay. Great. Now look. Our oceans are in real trouble! Listen to this clip ((INSERT CLIP OF OCEAN PROBLEM.))

    Okay. That sucks. Really. BUT you mustn't let this reality discourage your zazen practice! It's imperative such a suffering world have a REAL Buddha sitting within it. BE THAT BUDDHA! Zazen is enlightenment!

    ((ZAZEN BELL))

    RADIO ANNOUNCER: Great! Great! Here's a Zen joke. Who looks sillier than a bald buddhist? A HAIRY KRISHNA! Okay, okay, I need new material …

    Anyway, this is round three before you must enter the world and give them the fruit of this practice. Ready. Sit!

    ((ZAZEN BELL))

  6. Domi
    Domi March 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |

    Hey Brad, nothing to do with that post but, it`s the best way i found to contact you!
    I just read Hardcore Zen and Zen Wrapped in Karma…. and i`ve got the strong desire to tell you: These books fuckin rule (imho)!!!!!!! Probably never read something like this !!! I love this sense of humour , warm heartedness,uprightness, honesty and "anti puritanism, anti authoritarian" stuff!!!! I`d love to visit one of your talks when you come to Germany.
    See you,
    all the best
    P.S: I hope my English is understabel!!!!!!!

  7. sute
    sute March 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm |

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  8. T L
    T L March 12, 2012 at 8:12 am |

    Love the general idea. I've also considered hiring a ghostwriter or co-author. Would be interested to know what your fees for that would be.

    Also, how about designing some cool tshirts and stuff on Cafe Press and making them available on your website? Maybe plan to give part of the proceeds to charity? That always seems to increase sales and PR while helping folks focus on doing good… Shut Up For Fukushima? An online meditate-athon to raise awareness and funds for clean up with cool shirts (and the cute, non-shapeless style for girls)? Or some thing to bring meditation to inner city youth? Love it. I'm in. Thanks.

  9. datingservices
    datingservices March 24, 2012 at 2:41 am |

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  10. Elendil
    Elendil March 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |

    Hi Brad.
    I'm not interested.

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  12. Senshin_dk
    Senshin_dk March 28, 2012 at 11:50 am |

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Comments are closed.