The Art of the Personal Essay

The personal essay focuses, with pinpoint intensity, on the writer’s own life, exposing for the reader the “catastrophe of personality” found in the writer’s reactions to intimate experiences. Writing about ourselves is hard. But the personal essay done well —which means honestly, unflinchingly, personally— can make the hard work worth it, producing stories that transcend individual experience.

In this workshop, we will work on perhaps the most critical and challenging element of the personal essay: making the individual experience global, or at least bigger than ourselves. And we will do it not with overwrought emotional prose, but by relating inherently dramatic events that capture the writer’s struggles to handle them.

Want an example?

Cancer survivor Andrea Coller’s award-winning personal essay, “I Want My Life Back,” offers the perfect blend of riveting detail and spare emotion:

“Am I dead? Did it happen? Did I die?

I can’t move. I can’t see. But I can hear. Clicking. Beeping. Footsteps. Unfamiliar voices. Cryptic loudspeaker announcements. Hospital noises. I try to listen to the voices, but they float in and out in waves. They talk a lot about urine flow. Sometimes they say my name.” [Read the entire essay here]

Next workshop begins December 9, 2012  4 p.m. and runs four consecutive Sunday afternoons. ((Dec. 9. 16. 23, 30)

  • 20-minute pre-workshop, personal consultation with instructor
  • 4 class sessions/ 2 hours per class
  • Follow up, one hour personal editing session with instructor
  • Max class size = 5
  • Cost: $175.00

Interested in taking The Art of the Personal Essay Workshop register here HERE.

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