Recent Posts

Book Talk


Writing Process

The Road and The Vaster Wilds: Anti-Odysseys (Part 3 in an ongoing series)

By happenstance, I read Cormac McCarthy’s 2007 apocalyptic novel The Road and followed it with Lauren Groff’s latest, The Vaster Wilds. It was September, technically still summer, but both of these novels take place in life-threateningly cold weather, and each author made me feel that cold, that terror of being consumed by the natural world, an awareness of the scarcity of essential resources, the distrust of other human beings–even our intimates. As I revisit these novels today, fittingly on Halloween, when the air in Massachusetts has grown chill and my body continues to fight against that novel corona virus, I find myself sharing some of these primal fears. When the terrain is unknown and the enemy invisible, who and what can we trust?




River Roads

Here’s the strange thing about me: I can completely forget I’m a musician until I arrive at the gig. It’s as though that part of me is a set of clothes for another season, kept in a moth-proof box in the attic, out of mind until the weather changes.




Thoughts After Listening to a Podcast Interview of Tricia Hersey

Raising a child in America is an act of violenceEverything from the crashing together of the two cells(To say nothing of the act that caused that unionWhether it involved a…





This is poem #28 out of my 30 poems, and I would so so so so appreciate it if you would support the amazing organization and community at Center for New Americans. Why? Because they are a non-profit adult education center that provides the under-served immigrant, refugee and migrant communities of Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley with education and resources to learn English, become involved community members and obtain tools necessary to maintain economic independence and stability. Because love your neighbor as yourself. Because we are all neighbors. Please support my efforts by contributing to this wonderful organization via my pledge page.





See the world through your new pair of glasses: 
Only what is visible 
Through this rectangle.
This is your subject. 
Now, you may travel the world
To gain a new perspective
Or you can stay home, practice spelunking.
And when your child comes to you and announces
Their path is not your path…

Writing it up in the garden graphic
Workshops and Retreats

About Nerissa Nields

Nerissa Nields with blurry background

Nerissa Nields has been devoted to the written (and spoken and sung) word for her entire life. Best known as primary songwriter for the beloved and lauded folk-rock band The Nields, she has written 21 CDs-worth of songs. As an undergrad at Yale University, she won the Steve Adams Prize––for community service and the performing arts to the senior who best exemplifies a love of life, an enthusiasm, and a concern for others––for founding Yale’s Premiere American Folk Singing group, “Tangled up in Blue,” which now, 35 years later, is one of Yale’s most popular groups. Upon graduation, she started her own folk rock band with her sister, Katryna Nields. The Nields went on to major label success, garnering a huge nationwide fan base and much critical acclaim. In 1997, at the height of touring, recording and performing, Nerissa decided to become a novelist, and began writing daily in the back seat of the 15-passenger van (with attached trailer).  By April of 2002, she got a call from Randi Reisfeld, Acquisitions for Trade Paperback at Scholastic. Randi’s college-age children, it turned out, were Nields fans, and they had made their mom a mix tape. 

Nerissa’s publications include a YA novel Plastic Angel (Scholastic 2005), and All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music as a Family (Roost Books/Shambala, 2011,) as well as How to Be an Adult: A Creative Guide to Navigating Your Twenties (Mercy House, 2013). Her work has been published in Brevity, American SongwriterJ Journal: New Writing on Justice, Performing Songwriter, The Huffington Post, The Maine Review, and the Boston Globe. She received a BA cum laude with distinction in the major (English) from Yale University and an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently working on The Nields’ twenty-second album and the third novel in a trilogy about a family band.

View of the writer's studio from above - people sitting on sofas writing

As Nerissa worked on her first drafts, she began encouraging others to write in short, regular, timed bursts in a group setting. In 2003, Writing It Up in the Garden was born. Today, she teaches students from all over the country in person as well as via Zoom. Her students have gone on to be published by Big 5 houses. They have completed and produced full-length plays, novels, memoir, academic texts, self-help and countless poems and songs. 


These writing retreats are a gift to myself and to my writing. They allow me to focus in on my craft in a beautiful and supportive space. The energy of songwriters and writers of all genres coming together and creating is electric. It is place to discover new projects, shatter writer’s block, shape and develop existing work, and convene with amazing people. Also the food is yummy.

-Kate Cebik

Of all of the writing instructors I have had the pleasure of working with, including time spent in the west of Ireland at the Yeats Summer School program, Nerissa has a unique talent and expertise at detailed and authentic instructive feedback. I’ve sat in at Breadloaf, sat in at The New York State Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, sat in on the last sessions at the Frost Workshops in Bennington Vermont among others. Nerissa is a teacher not by trade but by calling. She is a natural teacher and teaches from the heart and I see a deep affinity between how well she listens to all of us as we make our way through our writing and the deep emotional resonance of her music. The teacher’s spirit, her inclination, her ethical compass, her ways of being alert, her ways of knowing are magnificently present in both. Both her music and her teaching are instructive.  At first, that phrase sounded stodgy to my ears, but, on second thought, instructive in the sense of orientation.  She orients us.  It’s soul instruction.

—Kimberly Hamilton Bobrow, English Professor, Manchester Community College

Weekly Writing Workshops

COST: $360.00