"(Personal essayists) are called 'selfish,' 'self-indulgent,' 'masturbatory,' and 'navel-gazers.' Our family and friends are pitied, and it's recommended we stop writing and immediately seek therapy." -Jay Ponteri, In Defense of Navel Gazing
The personal essay genre is vital for connection. When a personal essay is done masterfully, it isn’t about you; it’s about human connection and universal themes. In this six-week class, you will study contemporary, timeless, and experimental lyric essays, and come out of class with finished essays of your own. Each writer will workshop twice, and will meet with Chloe once throughout the course for an individual conference.
Students will experiment with different essay forms such as the braided essay and the lyric essay. You will learn how to engage readers, find your audience and your unique voice. Chloe will provide inspiration in the form of prompts, readings, and videos.
There will be an ongoing conversation about how to cope with family and friends while writing and publishing nonfiction, and where to publish your work. This class is perfect for any writer working on an essay collection or is eager to learn more about the complicated and important personal essay genre and creative nonfiction. While writers will generate new work throughout the course of this class, they should come with a work-in-progress suitable for submission to workshop.
*no class November 30th
- Thoughtful, intensive peer and instructor feedback on two personal essay submissions
- One productive, personal conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- Access to a nurturing community of writers and readers
- Detailed information about the path to publication, from preparing a personal essay for submission, to pitching editors, to figuring out what venues are right for your work
- Introductions to forms like the lyric and braided essay, and practical tools for using those forms to tell your own stories
- Strategies for dealing with invasive question about personal writing (and the comments!) as well as how to navigate the difficult terrain of writing about loved ones
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
- More confidence as a writer, on and off the page!
CHLOE CALDWELL is the author of the essay collection I’ll Tell You in Person (Coffee House/Emily Books, 2016), the critically acclaimed novella, WOMEN (SF/LD, 2014), and the essay collection Legs Get Led Astray (SF/LD). Chloe’s nonfiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Buzzfeed, New York Magazine, Longreads, Vice, Salon.com, The Rumpus, and many anthologies including "Goodbye To All That: Writers On Loving and Leaving NYC" and her essay "Hungry Ghost" was listed as Notable in the 2016 Best American Nonrequired Reading. She lives in Hudson, New York with her family.
"I started working with Chloe five years ago and she has guided my work ever since. She is a generous and gifted teacher. I can hear Chloe's voice as I write, reminding me to find action, add in details and remove words I don't need. Her feedback is gentle but precise, and she has a way of building community in all her classes. You will leave a better writer, and with new writer friends. I can't recommend her highly enough."
"I first became acquainted with Chloe through her writing, and was so excited to find that the combination of heart and discernment I love in WOMEN and I'LL TELL YOU IN PERSON also comes out in her teaching. Her edits are sharp and her ideas for opening a piece up are plentiful--she's helped me gain a lot of confidence and drive when it comes to drafting, rewriting, and editing my own work. "
"Everything I know about good writing I know from Chloe. She helped me get published for the first time on Long Reads. Her feedback is invaluable and elevated my writing to a whole new level. I'd be hard pressed to find someone with writing prompts and reading assignments as unique and powerful as hers. I always tell everyone, if you want to expand your writer's brain, talk to Chloe."
"Chloe's classes changed my life. She is so honest, thoughtful, and enthusiastic about her students and their work. She attracts smart, funny, open people to her classes. I've taken nearly a dozen workshops with her now and I consistently walk away feeling energized, inspired, and like I've known the people in the class for years. Chloe's guidance, support, and genuine interest in her students gave me the courage to take my writing seriously. I've learned so much from her and can't recommend her workshops highly enough."
"Chloe Caldwell writes with an emotional intensity that is insightful, heartfelt, and often hilarious. In her new essay collection, I'LL TELL YOU IN PERSON, she perfectly captures what it’s like to try and navigate your way through the traumatic first decade of adulthood. It’s filled with a raw honesty and voyeuristic allure that’s utterly captivating."
"One of the most endearing and exciting writers of a generation."
“Chloe Caldwell has written the ideal 'female companion book'—meaning, while reading, I felt like I had a female companion with at all times. On the subway, I had my female companion. In my backpack, I had my female companion. On the sidewalk, I held on tight to my female companion, and pedestrians would stare at her, so boldly yellow in my hands. Pretty soon my female companion took up residency in my head. She helped me process the world with sass, spite, sympathy, and wit. I don’t know what could be better than a book that allows you to be alone but to never feel lonely. I’LL TELL YOU IN PERSON does this and more. It projects the most potent afterglow, and Caldwell is a writer beyond gifted and generous. She is like a sage. ”
"Chloe Caldwell’s LEGS GET LED ASTRAY is a scorching hot glitter box of youthful despair and dark delight. Tender and sharp, wide-eyed and searching, these essays have a reckless beauty that feels to me like magic."
"Prepare to shed skin. Chloe Caldwell’s essays will dare you to dissect your own life. Shot-through with sexuality and sass, her language will get up in you and turn you inside out in the best possible way."
"WOMEN by Chloe Caldwell is a beautiful read/a perfect primer for an explosive lesbian affair/an essential truth."