Writing Classes

NEW! Now working as a one-on-one coach and instructor through The Porch, a writers collective based in Nashville. 

1. Creative Writing Mentorship – One-on-One, At least 2 sessions in person (in Nashville, through The Porch) 

Do you have an idea for a story, personal essay, or even a novel or memoir, but don’t know where to start? As an experienced writing instructor with an M.F.A. in creative writing, I’m here to be your personal writing coach. We’ll identify short- and long-term goals, try out various exercises, and work on polishing a project, one step at a time. Minimum of 2 one-hour sessions in person or Skype.

(Note: I do not take high school clients working on their college application essays, but I’m more than happy to give referrals to some writing consultants who have worked specifically in this area.)

2. Creative Writing Workshops – Group, One Session a Week, Nashville Only

December 15, 2018: YOU’RE THE EXPERT OF YOURSELF: Writing The Personal Essay – a free workshop for Teens in Nashville, through SLANT

Everyone has a story to tell, and the good news is, there are lots of possibilities for how you can tell your story through a personal essay. In this workshop we’ll talk about creative ways to structure an essay, the pros and cons of linear and fragmented styles, and useful habits for writing beyond the workshop.

SLANT workshops are intended for high school students. We meet in StudioNPL on the third floor of the Nashville Public Library. This is a free event open to students from any area, but workshop seating is limited, so please click to RSVP. If you sign up for an event and find that you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible so that someone else has the opportunity to participate. Contact joe@porchtn.org with questions. Click here to sign up!

Spring 2019: Writing About Home

Whether you’re a local Nashvillian or a recent transplant, you’re probably thinking about your relationship to the place you call home. Maybe it’s the place you were born. Maybe it’s where you are now, or where you envision being in the future. Many writers have wrestled with the idea of home, and all the questions that come with it. Is home synonymous with family? What happens when you’ve been away from home for a long time, and come back to find it unrecognizable? How, and when, does a person decide whether or not to call a new place their home? Should a place automatically make a person feel “at home,” or should people strive to change a place to make them feel that way? We’ll look at examples from both fiction and nonfiction, and try various in-class writing exercises to wrestle with these questions ourselves. This workshop welcomes writers who already have completed drafts, as well as writers just getting started. Click here to sign up!

Spring 2019: Balancing Reality and Fiction

This workshop is designed for writers who are working on stories based on historical fact or personal/family history. We often get excited about turning a nugget from reality into a fictional project, but it can be daunting to balance research with the creative act of composing scenes and dialogue. What should that balance look like? How can a writer sound credible but creative? Which facts should stay, and which should go? We’ll look at examples from other writers, establish our own goals (as everyone’s will look different depending on the project), and workshop drafts with these personal goals in mind. Click here to sign up!

Fall 2018: Foundations of Creative Nonfiction

The difference between a mildly interesting story and one that goes deep into a reader’s heart and mind is largely a matter of craft. Even the most compelling real-life material won’t grab an audience if it isn’t shaped and presented with skill. In this class, we’ll survey the major forms of creative nonfiction, including memoir, narrative reportage, and the essay, and we’ll take a close look at story structure and voice. The primary emphasis of the class, however, will be on helping you generate and refine your own work through weekly prompts and group discussion. Whether you are just beginning to explore your material or already have a book manuscript in progress, this course will provide you with guidance, encouragement, and detailed feedback. This class is for you if you love writing from your own life, are working on or towards a memoir, want to explore the many joys and diverse structures available to you in the personal essay, or just know you have some great true material to put down in writing. Click here to sign up!

Fall 2018: The Personal Essay

There are infinite variations of the “personal essay,” which makes the format both exciting and daunting. The essay might be a mix of personal anecdotes with bigger sociopolitical commentary, and the essay’s structure might mimic, or enhance, the overall point the author is trying to make. The essay could be linear, non-linear, fragmented, or infused with dialogue and scene-setting that almost make them sound like short stories. We’ll look at examples by James Baldwin, Richard Rodriguez, Jonathan Lethem, Joan Didion, and others to help us craft our own personal essays. This workshop is designed for writers who already have completed drafts, as well as writers just getting started. Click here to sign up!

I also offer editing and copywriting services. Visit the pages to learn more!