A friend gave me the gift of a class in August – the Magic Circle Summer – led by Diane Zinna. If you’ve followed my blogs this year, that name should be familiar. Diane is the same amazing writer who offers the Publishing Class in February, where each weekday features a different editor or publisher from a literary magazine, journal, or publishing company. She also leads Grief Writing Sundays to help those trying to deal with various types of grief through a creative writing outlet. 


Magic Circle Summer was indeed magical. I was coming off a particularly painful rejection the Sunday after the class started. The same day, I submitted the three poems I’d written through Diane’s writing portals the first three days of class, along with one I’d written a couple of weeks earlier at George Ella Lyon’s workshop in Abingdon after I missed the Appalachian Writers Workshop in Hindman due to issues from the gastric bypass surgery. The next day, the poem from George Ella’s workshop and one of the three that I wrote in Diane’s class were accepted at Salvation South magazine. I’m not sure when they’ll be printed, but I’m thrilled that they have found a home there! (Many thanks to Denton Loving for his insightful interview with Poetry Editor, Andy Fogle, and for suggesting that I submit some things there.) I also found inspiration in the Magic Circle Summer classes to fill in a gap in Chasing After Rainbows. Lots of little things came out of the class, as well as inspiration and ideas for other writings in the future. 


I love the way Diane sets up her classes. She always opens the Zoom room precisely at 9 a.m. Eastern. No earlier. As people come into the Zoom, she always has music playing to set the mood for the day’s writing. Next, she greets us, and sometimes invites participants to share writing successes or even life successes for a few minutes. Then she launches into a craft lesson. Nothing too overwhelming, usually an introduction to a specific author and a particular poem or short writing piece by them. Then, she gives time for the class to write something in response to that lesson. Maybe something in a similar form, an actual response to the piece that she shared with us, etc. It can be whatever you’re inclined to write – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or something in-between those genres. We typically write for about 40-45 minutes. She lets people contact her directly through chat to volunteer to read each day, making sure that the same three to five people don’t dominate the scene each day. When we come back together in a big group, she lets us know who will share that day. As each volunteer reads, participants fill the chat with phrases that resonate with them, or comments about the piece. Then Diane makes audible comments and always asks for volunteers from the group to do the same. So, the volunteers who share their work get lots of great feedback. And Diane makes sure that things stay positive and constructive. It’s truly a safe space in which to write, and to share. There’s also a private Facebook group for participants where we can share the work, whether we read aloud or not. She provides so many opportunities to write and to grow within our writing. Not every instructor does. I feel so fortunate to have discovered Diane through the members of my 7:00 Writing Group!


There’s another Magic Circle coming up in October, and I’ve already signed up for it. I can’t wait for more opportunities to work with Diane and the other amazing writers who take her classes. To check out Diana, her classes, and her own writing, go to her website at https://dianezinna.com/