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Writing Our Lives – Fall 2014 Edition

August 12, 2014

WOL

I’m switching up Writing Our Lives yet again. Why? Because I believe it’s important to keep it fresh and new, and I’m all about improvement and providing more writers interested in personal essay and memoir with new opportunities to hone their craft and get their work out there.

(Click here to find out why I created the class in the first place, and here for more info on why I continue to reinvent the class, time and again.)

Why write personal essays?

There’s a great market for personal essays in on-line journals and blogs, in print magazines and newspapers, and, yes, even on the radio. There’s a reason “reality TV” is booming right now. We live in a world of voyeurs where people, you and I included, want an inside look into people’s lives, how they live as they live and why they live that way. We’re also super eager to give our opinions on anything and everything. These days you don’t have to be a celebrity to find voyeurs playing paparazzi, peering into your windows and snooping into your mail…or stalking your blog, tweets and facebook statuses.

In the personal essay, you have the chance to say something that’s been simmering in you for what feels like forever. You can get your frustrations out on the page. You can share what you’ve learned and how you learned it. And, yes, you may even have a shot at publishing these pieces. Many new writers get their first publishing credit by publishing essays on parenthood or about the tragedy that nearly broke them.

Say you have strong feelings about Hollywood, or you want to share a compelling story about how you learned to forgive your father for leaving you. Maybe you feel strongly about issues affecting urban youth or this generation’s love for the “n” word, or you want to tell how you came to writing. Or maybe you have a story about a personal crisis that you endured and know you must write about. If that’s the case, Writing Our Lives is here to help, no matter where you are in your writing life.

This fall, the Writing Our Lives Fall Edition presents TWO weeks long classes: the Writing Our Lives Intro Class and Writing Our Lives – The Next Level.

FREE class

As usual, we start with a FREE class on September 14th, 12pm-5pm. This class is an overview of the elements of powerful essays. If you’re interested, please email me (vanessa_martir@yahoo.com) so I can give your name to security.

Writing Our Lives Intro Class

This class is designed for people who are new (or fairly new) to writing the personal essay and know they want to take on the challenge. In the class, we will dig into the fundamentals of writing essays, like what are the elements of a personal essay, how do we decide on a topic, how do we read essays like writers (as opposed to reading simply as a reader), how do we build three-dimensional characters and write dialogue, etc.

We will be reading essays and dissecting them, analyzing why the author made the decisions he or she made. We’ll also be doing tons of writing. The final project is a 500-750 word essay.

How do you know if this class is for you?

  • Have you read essays and wanted to write your own but the thoughts get lost in translation, that is, somewhere between the brain and the fingertips you forget what you want to say?
  • Have you tried to write essays but find it hard to finish?
  • Have you wondered how these writers write these amazing essays but think you just don’t have the chops but wish you did? (Side note: You do have the chops!)
  • Do you write religiously (or sporadically) in your journal and wish (maybe even know) you could make those streams of consciousness into essays?
  • Are you a writer, perhaps you’ve written poetry or fiction, who wants a refresher on the techniques you take for granted (like character development and dialogue) so you can try to step into the essay writing world?
  • Have you heard some great things about Writing our lives and want to see Vanessa in action?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this class is for you.

Dates: September 21 & 28, October 5, 12, 19

Time: 12-5pm

Location: Hunter College

Price: $360 (There are several partial scholarships available for this class. Please email me for more information. Payment plans are also available.) Your tuition payment entitles you to 20 hours of instruction and a one-on-one meeting with Vanessa.

Project: write a 500-750 word essay. We will focus on the topic of home: what does home mean? Our search for home, longing for home, want to redeem home or forget home.

Writing Our Lives – The Next Level

This class is designed for writers who have written essays in the past (they do not have to be published). The target student has taken a Writing Our Lives Workshop or another comparable essay writing class, and is interested in getting a piece ready for submission.

We will be reading essays and dissecting them for structure, and analyzing the pros and cons of different essay structures. We’ll be editing and revising together. Looking at our own work under a magnifying glass—why did we make the decisions we made? Why did we choose that scene? That dialogue? Etc. We will also be going through the essay submission process–what journals are we interested in submitting to? How do we decide? How do we know our essays are suitable for particular journals?

How do you know if this class is for you?

  • Have you taken the Writing Our Lives Workshop in the past (or a comparable class) and want to take your essay writing skills up a few notches?
  • Do you have an idea, maybe some streams of consciousness/rambling type writings, or even a full-fledged draft you want to develop?
  • Are you are ready to bring a piece from embryo to ready for submission status?
  • Are you interested in learning more about the craft of essay writing—structure, metaphor, lei motifs, etc.?
  • Have you heard some great things about Writing our lives and want to see Vanessa in action?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this class is for you.

Note: this class is not for novice writers. This class is for lovers of essay—you read essays regularly and have written or tried to write them and are ready to really dedicate yourself to the craft.

There is an application process for this class. Please submit the following to vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with “Writing Our Lives – The Next Level application” in the subject line:

  • One paragraph description of your essay idea.
  • Sample writing on the topic: this can be a flow of consciousness. The point is that I want to see that you’ve started working towards something.
  • Brief description of your experience with essays and essay writing. Note: I want an idea not just of what you write but also what you read.

Dates: October 26, November 2, 9, 16, 23

Time: 12-5pm

Location: Hunter College

Price: $390 (There are several partial scholarships available for this class. Please email me for more information. Payment plans are also available.)

Project: Write a 750-1000 word essay.

To register or ask any questions, please email me at vanessa_martir@yahoo.com.

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