Experimenting with Essay Forms
Dates & Time of In-Person Class: December 1st & 8th (take one or both), 12-5pm
Dates of Online Class: November 26, December 3 & 10
Tuition: In person class $150 for both, $80 for one; Online class $180
You have everything you think you need for your essay: you have the events, you have the material you want to cover. But you can’t seem to get the story right. What’s happening?
Maybe the issue isn’t the essay, but the form you’re using!
At some point we learned that all stories should be told in chronological order. Yes, there’s some usefulness to relating events in the order in which they occurred, but this approach can also be very limiting. Sometimes the traditional form won’t cut it for what we’re trying to say and do. That’s where experimentation comes in.
Sometimes, it’s the juxtaposition of events that gives our memories meaning.
Sometimes, it’s in experimentation that we find our form!
What if the best way to write your story is via a want ad? Or maybe it’s a resume as an essay? What about a recipe? Can that be an essay? Can we write an essay using google maps? What about list?
The answer to all of these is YES!
In this writing intensive class, we will:
You’ll also have the opportunity to share a few paragraphs (if you want to, of course) of your new work with your classmates, and by the end of each day you’ll have the beginnings of a few pieces.
What you should know about the in-person class:
What you should know about the online class:
To register, for more information or to ask questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More In-Person and On-Line Classes coming Fall 2018 &/or Winter/Spring 2019
(more information coming soon):
Past Classes (online and/or in person) include:
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Testimonials from students:
“WOL was a treacherously beautiful experience. As a person, it strengthened my immune system. As a writer, it made me realize that my story not only matters but needs to be told. Not for my sake, so much as for the overall spiritual health of our communities of color. The facilitator will keep it real with you always -so come correct! This class isn't for the faint of heart. It requires that you do the work on all levels. One of the best investments I've made for my Self.” ~ Sarahí Almonte, poet & nurse
“The "Writing Our Lives" seminar taught me the key components of creative nonfiction: structure, scene, place and most importantly voice. Vanessa helped me sound like "me" on the page. She helped me dig into memory and uncover my stories, taught me how to tell it and she affirmed over and over again why my story - our stories, are important. It was challenging and exhausting - as all life changing experiences should be. I walked out feeling more confident, knowing what I need to do to be a better writer and feeling like a part of a community of writers that I can now turn to. I am so grateful for Vanessa, for this class, and for my classmates.” ~ Nia Ita Sanchez, educator & writer
“WOL, it is an incredible experience! As a writer, if you are really committed to your craft, this is the class for you. Vanessa Mártir gives her all and more in each class, you read A LOT, because as a writer, you MUST read and she makes sure you do, you also write non-stop and will walk out of that class knowing what works for you as a writer, the stories that are bursting out of your throat, how important they are and why they must be written, the importance of your VOICE and what it is to read a book for enjoyment and as a writer. So again if you are willing to do the work and are committed to your craft: SIGN IN!” ~ Wendy Angulo, writer, entrepreneur, lawyer
"WOL is a safe space to explore the voice that refuses to be silenced. Vanessa is the badass facilitator, who guides you through your fears & insecurities by not only providing you with writing tools but allowing you the freedom of showing up to the page authentically.” ~ Vanessa Pardo, educator
“I am not here to hold your hands. I am here to help you tell your story. Nine weeks later, I was able to write my story. One year later, I was accepted to a competitive writing workshop (VONA) with the guidance and tools provided by Vanessa Martir. She helped me cultivate my dream of becoming a writer. At the end of her workshop she said you are a writer. Say it. I am a writer . Thank you Vanessa Martir.” ~ Sharon Shaw, social worker, writer
“In the spring of 2015, I walked into Vanessa Mártir's Writing Our Lives Workshop a broken and severely depressed woman going through confusing pangs of grief after my mother's passing. I honestly didn't know what to expect, and was surely not calling myself a "writer". To say that I've grown both as a woman and a writer is an understatement, and doesn't do the indelible effects of Vanessa's WOL on people's lives justice. I've had so many stories, both pleasant and painful, plumbed out of me in Vanessa's class that I had purposefully forgotten, ignored, or walked away from. Vanessa likes to compare her approach to facilitating her writing space to that of an "iron fist with a velvet glove". Man, was the tough love REAL in her space, but the cathartic release for the sake of healing and recognizing the importance of our stories make it all worth it.
“Vanessa's creative writing prompts helped me see my traumas and the complex layers of my grief over a mother with whom I had a terse relationship. I had a breakthrough in a particular writing prompt that my story inevitably starts with my mother's. Vanessa's WOL class taught me that being "unmothered" is real and that my grief has occurred two-fold with my mother: in life and in death. I was so obsessed with my mother's death in my writing that I had buried her, erasing the beautiful monster that she was: a woman who was emotionally abusive yet kind at times, but also a drug dealer and a manic depressive who struggled with loving herself and others. Vanessa taught me to cradle my mother's multitudes and grieve her in ways beautiful and unforeseen. Simply put, Vanessa taught me to empathize, humanize, and most importantly, show my mother "in life". I seriously don't think Vanessa knows how advising to do this in my writing has inevitably saved mine. I haven't stopped writing my mother in life since. I've been accepted into a competitive memoir workshop called Las Dos Brujas this year, and honestly, it would not have been possible without the hard work that Vanessa's WOL writing workshop demands.
“This said, it precedes to say that Writing Our Lives is life-changing, life-saving. So much so that I have taken it three times not counting the numerous free one day classes she generously gives. You write with purpose in her space. After the writing and righting are done and your heart has screamed and your eyes have welled, you emerge, not completely healed, but more capable to carry yourself with all of your perfect imperfections.
“Vanessa simply doesn't say "go write". She says, "Go. Be. Do. Burn all this pain down and transform it to power, and make the world watch."
“To Vanessa. Thank you for the space, the holding, the safety, the sage advice on craft, and for helping so many writers of color find their voices. With the warmest love and deepest gratitude.” ~Mariana Goycochea, PhD Candidate
"Writing Our Lives is what helped me to dig a little deeper as a writer, in all respects. Vanessa Mártir's method is very straight forward, no bullshit. Open to all, just be respectful & come prepared to work, or don't come at all. If you can swing that, you will definitely benefit from this class. The excercises are engaging, with some that first appear to be impossible but are simply challenging. And that's what you want. To be challenged. To be able to go toe-to-toe with it. And this class was just that. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of the innaugural class and back then even though I didn't complete the entire session, I knew it was something unique. I had learned so much. I almost missed this latest "semester", but I was able to make it happen. So glad it all worked out. I left feeling focused because now I have the tools I need to take my story where it needs to go. I highly recommend it!” ~ Mark Vigo, poet and writer