one on one work

It’s true; I sometimes offer opportunities for a limited number of writers to work with me individually.

Most writers who hire me in this capacity do so because they want to speed up and/or dramatically deepen the development of a manuscript they’ve already undertaken, and because they know that borrowing some intensive attention from me will keep them writing through their stumbles and into a more honest long-term relationship with the creative process.

I recognize these writers because they’re generally shaking with fear but know that they have to cut a path to completion regardless—not in spite of—the shaking. They also understand that if they want something they haven’t had before (like to hold in their hands the complete working draft of a book they’ve been backburnering for years) that they actually have to do things they haven’t done before.

I have the utmost respect for those who have reached this understanding and who are trying to make that leap. 

Our individual working plan can look different ways—you don’t even have to be local to northern California to work with me in this way—but what all my coaching agreements have in common with one another is that they require an unwavering commitment to followthrough, and an initial assessment period that requires you to be honest about what you want to accomplish and what it is that you need to change about your current approach in order to get yourself to the other side of the mountain. Putting an agreement together is a dialogic process starting from a series of questions about your vision, needs, and current writing practices and the customizing of a working plan (some combination of periodic checkins, meetings, page deadlines + feedback turnarounds, hot-moment sessions, and other elements) that is finally spelled out in a formal contract we both sign.

My coaching practice is currently full; the next time I anticipate taking on new clients is for contracts beginning in late 2023 or early 2024. If you’d like to receive an email the next time I see an opening on the horizon, send me an email at rgouirand [at] gmail [dot] com and I will forward you my questionnaire for prospective coaching clients.

Recent clients say:

I worked with Rae for six months on manuscript development, and I should warn you you will be sad when it’s over. Rae’s poemsight is scary sharp, and I learned quite enough simply from paying attention to her readings of my work. The generosity, flexibility, and responsiveness she brought to our partnership reflected, to me, her deep reverence for the creative impulse and the making human person. She is a poet guide extraordinaire—go walking and see for yourself. (KE, Sacramento CA)

I never would have dared to write a memoir without Rae by my side. Her comprehensive weekly feedback provided more than just notes on craft, answers to my questions about writing and publishing, and words of encouragement; it also reflected my work back to me in a way that helped me to feel less daunted by writing such a difficult and personal book. I often felt that Rae’s help was literally priceless; I would be willing to pay any amount for her uniquely detailed, considered, and resonant feedback. She is truly a one-of-a-kind editor and mentor, and making the decision to work with her has been the single best thing I’ve done for my writing career. (CE, Davis CA)

Rae has a divining rod for writing. When I send her wandering cosmic rubbish, she finds the chips of stars. When I can’t articulate what’s going on, she can. Sometimes this means she acts as a mirror, reflecting back and highlighting what it was that already exists. Other times this meant conjuring up a whole new solar system to consider. I have worked with her for nine months—and in the end, she has helped me to blow my own socks off. (AH, Woodland CA)

Working with Rae in this capacity has been an extraordinary experience. Rae has helped me to visualize the core of what I want to write, and, with laser focus, offered tremendous suggestions and encouraging comments to keep me moving toward my goal. She knows exactly the right questions to ask and challenges me to dive deep. This has been both exciting and terrifying at times, and absolutely worth the effort. (BP, Sacramento CA)

Rae helps me hear my voice. She was able to comment on the big picture and vision of my 100,000-word manuscript as well as to get into the nitty gritty details. What I came away with was the feeling of having a climbing rope to hang on to while I continue to whittle away and pick-axe my way to a deeper and richer place. (BN, Davis CA)

Working with Rae one-on-one is a writer’s dream come true–she is a magnificent combination of taskmaster, muse, and cheerleader. Knowing that she is there to read and respond to my words greatly facilitated my writing process. Rae has an uncanny ability to go straight to the heart of a piece and offer just the right suggestion or ask just the right question to move the writing to the next level. I am continually inspired by her responses to my work and her contagious enthusiasm. The result? A completed manuscript. (EA, Sacramento CA)

Rae’s detailed personal attention helped me transform unconnected essays into a genuine memoir. Her gentle guidance is of the finest order. She has helped me see the inside of manuscript development, the fact that it requires repeated circling to realize the center. More than anything I’m grateful to her for reminding me that what we’re aiming for is not just a body of writing, but also a life of writing. I thank my lucky stars that Rae came through my universe. I await her encouragement like looking for Sputnik in a beautiful summer sky. (LH, Davis CA)

Rae’s input on my hybrid manuscript has been invaluable. I tell her “Here it is. Now what is it?” and she is able to clearly reflect back to me her experience of the work. Her poet’s eye is able to zoom in on language in a way that informs my revision of the manuscript on both micro and macro levels. Her input is thorough, supportive, and encourages exploration of the creative opportunities already embedded in the writing rather than centered on suggestions imposed from on high. (TB, Portland OR)

This work is the most grounding thing I have ever experienced. (SH, Kaneohe HI)

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