This workshop examines the personal essay as a contribution to a greater cultural dialogue, digging into a myriad of forms including memoir, criticism, investigation, reflection, and the delicious and often messy ways that writers have blurred those lines between them. We’ll approach reading as inspiration, challenge, and treasure map: how can both classic and contemporary literary work be a guide in our own creative problem solving?
This five-week course, taught by Megan Stielstra (The Wrong Way to Save Your Life), pulls from both literary and oral storytelling traditions, engaging in writing and rewriting activities to get our stories out of the body and onto the page, encouraging risk and discovery and examining literary craft in new ways.
Students will build their own personal essay from gut-level inception to final draft, as well as laying the groundwork for an ongoing reading and writing practice that will sustain us without the support of a class.
Week 1: The gut. What do you need to tell, the memories, experiences, frustrations, fascinations, and questions that live not in your head but your bones?
Week 2: The page. How the hell do we get it there?
Week 3: The bookshelf. How does our reading practice influence the rewriting process?
Week 4: The critic. What do we do with that voice in our head?
Week 5: The audience. There is a difference between the practice of writing and the choice of if and when and how to share that writing. How is the rewriting process influenced by a wider audience and the writers’ intended goals for the piece? We’ll also talk about the publication process, some nuts-and-bolts.