Courses

The Art of the Personal Essay: Mining the Real World for Stories Worth Exploring

$60

Long live the versatility of essay! Of all the genres, essays might be the most expansive. They let you stories. They explore ideas. They encourage you to reject easy conclusions, instead granting you the freedom to revel in questions and curiosities. It is a form that allows you as a writer to look with wide open eyes at the world and ask what it is you see there and what it might mean.

This six-week self-directed class focuses on common approaches to the personal essay, from memoir essay to lyric and, in doing so, highlights common subjects of popular interest, from the environment to art. We won’t shy away from the hard stuff, either, but will take time to discuss common questions about fact v. fiction, the risks of writing about family and loved ones, the imperfection of memory, and more. Every Monday a lesson arrives in your inbox designed to direct your creative process for the coming week. These lectures include practical writing tips, examples to illustrate writing tips, recommended readings, and suggested creative exercises that will help you take the stuff of your own life and transform it into prose that elevates the personal to the universal. Includes:

  • Weekly Powerpoint lectures, each examining a different approach to the genre through examples that offer insight into how to approach subject and structure. Incorporated throughout the lectures are basic writing tips intended to help you draft two or three of your own personal essays.
  • Two weekly recommended readings. One to reinforce the lecture of the previous week and one to introduce topics that will be covered the following week.
  • Short examples of work that illustrate the lessons of each lecture and provide fodder for emulation.
  • Weekly writing assignments for completion at your own pace and designed to help you find your writing “voice”and identify the stories and ideas about which you are passionate.
  • Writing prompts to help jog the memory and exercise and strengthen the muscles of observation.
  • Suggested further readings and recommendations for magazines and websites that publish creative nonfiction.
  • Weekly online office hours (1 hour) where you can chat with me in real time via Zoom (text chat).

GET IN TOUCH TO LEARN MORE!

*****

Climbing Mount Memoir: Confession, Vulnerability, and Facing

the Challenges of the Self as Subject

$50

Memoir: Some people love it, some people cannot stand it. There are as many proselytizers as there are detractors. Why is memoir so divisive? In the right hands, it can be as beautiful as the most elegant novel; in the wrong hands, it can read as nothing more than a solipsistic diary entry. Memoirs can be acts of profound generosity and compassion or documents of extreme narcissism. Why is the genre so delicate? What are the particular challenges of the tradition that continue to prove its susceptibility to controversy?

This five-week self-directed class focuses on both the ethical and practical challenges of memoir, examining how the practical ones inform ethical ones and vise versa. It addresses what it means to place primacy on the perspective of the first person when that first person is oneself and what that means for others who figure into your story. It also looks at ways to mitigate the pitfalls of this limited point of view and address questions of what makes a good story — is it the dramatic, life-changing event? An anecdote from a conventional life? Every Monday a lesson arrives in your inbox designed to direct your creative process for the coming week. These lectures include practical writing tips, examples to illustrate writing tips, recommended readings, and suggested creative exercises. Over the course of the five weeks you will learn how, by dramatizing your own life, you can transform that life into prose that can entertain, enlighten, rivet, commune, and reach outward by reaching inward. Includes:

  • Three Powerpoint lectures, each examining an element of memoir that raises both ethical and stylistic questions. The questions are supplemented with substantial instructor commentary and practical solutions to common problems. Incorporated throughout all three the lectures are basic writing tips and prompts intended to help you in your own memoir writing.
  • Weekly recommended readings. One to reinforce the lecture and one to introduce topics that will be covered the following week.
  • Short examples of work that illustrate the lessons of each lecture and provide fodder for emulation.
  • Weekly writing assignments for completion at your own pace and designed to help you find your writing “voice” and identify the stories and ideas about which you are passionate.
  • Writing prompts to help jog the memory and exercise and strengthen the muscles of observation.
  • Suggested further readings and recommendations for magazines and websites that publish creative nonfiction.
  • Weekly online office hours (1 hour) where you can chat with me in real time via Zoom (text chat).

GET IN TOUCH TO LEARN MORE!

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