Pam Houston and Ginger Gaffney: "Doing the Ground Work"
6:30-8:30 PM MST TUESDAYS, JULY 14, 21, 28, AND AUGUST 4

Ginger and Pam team up to teach "Doing the Ground Work," a four-session writing class on how to get your stories "out of the physical world and into language and onto the page."

This workshop will be hosted online as part of our virtual event series. Price includes one hardcover copy of Ginger Gaffney's debut memoir, Half Broke, and one paperback copy of Pam Houston's latest, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country.

From the instructors:

"Working and writing about animals and the natural environment demands we do a deep sink into instincts and systems which are not our own. In the horse world we call this Ground Work. As writers we do the same deep dive into our sentences, our scenes, dialogue, and characters. Paying attention to the physical senses is a way to keep us grounded in the real (or fictional ) world of our stories.

"Ginger Gaffney (Half Broke) and Pam Houston (Contents May Have Shifted, Cowboys Are My Weakness) team up to teach this one time only—so far!—class in how to get your stories out of the physical world that surrounds you and into language and onto the page. In four two-hour sessions stretched across four weeks, we will start with where we get our material, our glimmers, the hunks of the physical world that resonate with us, that make us want to tell a story. Pam will lead the second class, where we will talk about writing scenes, complete with dialogue, stance, and point of view. In week three, Ginger will lead us in a class that details how to use revision as a tool to dig deeper into the physical world of our stories. In week four we will talk about compression and polish, and you guys will read to us from your work.

"We’d like to ask you to please bring to this workshop as much of yourself as you possibly can. We know these are challenging times for all of us. The urge in you to create art always deserves your full attention, but maybe especially now, in these times that will, going forward, be measured in terms of before or after. The urge toward empathy has never been more urgent, and we believe there is no better way to raise empathy than through storytelling. We can stay tethered to the world, and to each other through our stories. It never ceases to amaze us what a handful of artists coming together with their hearts open can create in only a matter of days. It will be great to write with you all and we look forward to meeting you soon."

For information about participating in our virtual workshops, please see our FAQ page.


  • Cost: $275 per person for four sessions.
  • Register below or directly on Eventbrite.
  • Please bring paper and pen or an electronic device to write on.
  • No partial refunds. We can issue refunds up until one (1) day before the first class session.

  • 6:30-8:30pm Tuesdays, July 14, 21, and 28
  • 6:30-8:30pm Tuesday, August 4

Pam Houston is the prize-winning author of Contents May Have Shifted, among other books. She is professor of English at the University of California–Davis and lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Ginger Gaffney is a top-ranked horse trainer. She received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and her work has been published in Tin House and Utne Reader. She lives in Velarde, New Mexico.