When writing, it's easy to get lost and discouraged, to lose perspective. Matthew's most valuable gift may be in helping you find your way back into a piece, giving you renewed clarity and enthusiasm for it. He accomplishes this with great skill and not a little humor, making him a joy to work with.
When my son Ethan was seven, eight, nine, I would buy magic tricks for him from Misdirections, on 9th Avenue between Lincoln and Irving. The proprietor, Joe, got to know me well enough that he invited Ethan and I to the Miraloma Park Improvement Club for a get together with magicians from all over the Bay Area. Oh my God, what a night. We walked around with decks of cards and magic boxes and silver rings, things appearing and disappearing, aces jumping out of velvet bags, the king of clubs ending up in Ethan’s back pocket, which was impossible but there it was. Everyone had a new illusion, and they couldn’t wait to share. We were treated as fellow magicians even though we didn’t know what we were doing. It was literally and figuratively a magical evening, and not unlike, the six evenings at The Lab. There we were, marginal, in the best sense of the word, I still didn’t know what I was doing. What I do know is that we were writing like madmen and madwomen. We were sharing new illusions, trying them out on one another. I know my heart beat faster.
Enrolling in "The Lab: Writing Classes with Matthew Clark Davison" has given me time, accountability, and support for my writing. But it's more than that. It's a true literary exploration. Matthew's carefully selected prompts and thoughtful lessons inspire me to dig deeper into my characters' inner lives and help me discover and explore the themes most important to me. "The Lab" is also a great place to find new characters - writers at all levels and stages appreciate the creative and artistic questions posed in "The Lab." Matthew is encouraging, kind, skilled, and authentic. I will probably just continue taking "The Lab" forever.
When I started The Lab, I knew writing was the only thing I wanted to do. After years of academia and essays, I was finally finding my voice in fiction. But I had no idea how to push myself, how to think around blocks and deepen my characterization. Matthew's teaching style gets you to the other side of a problem while unlocking your own insight into your creative project, all without you feeling like you're being led in a specific direction. His prompts have taken me places in my writing I'd hoped I'd get to on my own, but didn't know where to start. After taking a couple cycles of The Lab, I had a completed an MFA portfolio, almost entirely developed from Matthew's experiments. My only regret in choosing NYU's MFA program is that it means I'll be so far from The Lab!
The Lab is a fun and supportive environment in which to experiment. Matthew Clark Davison's writing prompts are thoughtful, stimulating and provide results. I'm a songwriter, and I took the Lab in the winter of 2012 curious what effect it might have on my music-writing process. Much to my surprise, I walked out of that six week session with the idea for a play. A year and a few cycles of The Lab later, I’m finishing up the first draft of a play in two acts with musical interludes. Thank you, Matthew!
On more than one evening I have arrived at The Lab thinking the well has run dry. Then Matthew's readings/discussions/experiments open me up to a flood of ideas. There are those who do, those who teach, and a very talented few who pull off both extremely well. Matthew’s experience as a published writer is valuable to his students; he's passionate about his own work, but also appreciates and possesses real insight into the writing of others. As a teacher, he's empathetic, but also willing to challenge those participating in his workshop to dig deeper and test their limits. One of the things I love best about his writing prompts is how he draws freely on other disciplines, including the visual arts. Having first signed up without any set expectations, I have kept returning to The Lab over the years principally because I find it enjoyable, but also because Matthew has given me new enthusiasm for and real direction in my writing.
Since completing graduate school I have felt anything but that--complete. In The Lab, I had a chance to step back and see the characters and conflicts in my stories with a greater kindness and compassion than I ever did in grad school. Time was set aside to think and write. The burden of accomplishment, of having a fully realized, living story, was secondary to the greater intention to explore who we are, who our characters might be. That freedom reminds me of why I like to write in the first place. Matthew's Lab created a wonderful space for exploring stories and connecting with other writers.
—Julia Halprin Jackson
I have known Matthew for a few years now and I can easily say that he is one of the most inspirational teachers I have ever had. His life revolves around writing; finding inspiration in sculpture, dance, and music. The Lab answers the questions every aspiring writer asks "What now?" "Where do I begin?" If you are stuck in the middle of a story and need a nudge in the right direction, or you are just trying writing out for the first time, I highly recommend The Lab to get those creative juices flowing.
Matthew Clark Davison's passion for reading, writing, creativity, and excellence are contagious. I highly recommend The Lab, his 6-week writing program. Expect to be stimulated and enriched by the readings, discussions, and writing prompts. I left every session of The Lab feeling inspired and rewarded, brimming with the possibilities of our words, with the possibilities of the right word at the right moment.
—Ethel Rohan, author of Cut Through the Bone
Matthew is a rare breed in writing instructor. His talent and passion for writing is rivaled by his talent and passion for teaching. It behooves any aspiring or established writer to seek out Matthew's coaching.
Matthew is a treasure. He touches his students with his wit and wisdom…his writing prompts helped me reach deep down to rediscover events I had forgotten, and helped me bring them to the page in surprising ways. The best writing workshop in all the Bay Area!
Matthew Clark Davison brings the world into The Lab through other mediums, and then invites the actual world to behold the budding fruits of that exchange. I came into The Lab with an imagination and the urge to explore, but Matthew's direction shifts my direction in a way that makes me see humanity in a different light, and lets me be human in a different way. I would have never thought to write the origin of love for my character, or to use architecture to explore the layers of a piece. I found The Lab to be an amalgamation of the craft of story and the instinct of art. I look forward to repeating the experience.
— Lorena Landeros
Matthew Davison has an amazing gift of pulling new and compelling material out of writers with the idea that we simply must take risks with our work - whether in subject matter, form, the editing process, or exposing our work to a larger community. Matthew’s enthusiasm and commitment to the writing process is contagious. Because of his invaluable instruction and feedback, my writing explored new, exciting and provocative depths during his 6-week lab.
— Liz Tucker
After six-weeks with Matthew, the act and pleasure of writing have woven their way back into my life. The Lab helped me make a direct connection to my creative vision. His facilitation style and creative prompts were invaluable to building confidence and trust in my own voice. Matthew's lab was not just about learning the craft; it was about being in an environment that allowed creativity to flow.
— Jennifer Hasegawa
Receiving instruction from Matthew Davison reaps benefits that work double-time! Not only will you get skilled and effective guidance to strengthen your writing, you will receive it from someone who is whole-heartedly invested and committed to your specific goals and desires. Further, he teaches his students how to read more effectively, which undoubtedly makes us better writers.
— Steve Dershimer
Matthew is an insightful, uniquely personal instructor with an understated yet well-prepared and confident approach. Not only did I improve my writing craft and critical reading skills, but the vibe was devoid of pretension, filled with helpful, supportive discussion, and never devolved into the hollow kum-ba-ya that does no serious writer any good. Beginning to well-seasoned writers are well served by The Lab.
— John Yi
The Lab fit in perfectly with my schedule and opened an extremely productive space for my writing. It was great to hear other participants’ interpretations of the creative prompts. Matthew’s facilitation mixed beautiful examples of theory with practical application of concepts, always with a smile. I found it very applicable and looked forward to the workshop each week. This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to explore their own writing in the company of like-minded folks.
— Anne Trickey
The Lab is a warm environment that fosters experimentation and expression. The writing prompts, discussions, and feedback gave me some great ideas; some of the pieces I wrote were quite a pleasant surprise even to myself.
— Candyce Choi
The Lab helped me find my creative voice. Highly recommended.
— Rick Richman
The Lab isn't like taking a class. It's like sitting around your living room talking about your writing with a group of friends. Matthew's exercises were beautifully targeted to the group dynamic - no set curriculum here! Matthew listens to what's going on with the group and responds accordingly. The exercises took me to deep places in my novel and helped me get to the emotional heart of the story I'm telling. Matthew's characterization workshop helped me break through and clarify a scene that I have been trying to get right for more than a year. I left the workshop feeling full of the creative energy I needed to continue working on this piece and push on to its completion.
— Diane Glazman