Introduction to the Personal Essay (On-line class)
Class Dates: January 31, February 7, 21, 28, March 14
Class Time: 7-9pm EST
Platform: via videoconference using Zoom.us (sessions will be recorded)
Tuition: $300 including a nonrefundable $60 deposit (Note: payment plans are available)
Personal essays are everywhere these days. There are sites and entire sections of magazines and papers dedicated to personal stories–hello NYTimes Modern Love and Lives sections, Narratively, The Rumpus, Hippocampus, and the list goes on and on. Essay collections and anthologies are also booming. The fact is that personal stories are everywhere, and yours should be too.
In addition to having written and published several books and dozens of essays, I love teaching. I created the Writing Our Lives Workshop in 2010, and have since taught hundreds of writers how to write the personal essay. This is the first time I am bringing this work online. Why? Because it’s time. Because folks have asked for it. Because I want to make this class available to folks outside of the NYC area. Because I believe your stories matter and should be out in the world, and I want to help you make that happen.
What you need to know:
Still not sure if this class is for you? Ask yourself this:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, this class is for you. Email email@example.com for information on registration, payment plans, etc.
Writing the Mother Wound (In-person class)
Dates: February 17, 24, March 3, 17, 24, 31
Location: West Village, NYC
Price: $600 (see below for information on payment plans and need-based scholarships)
Registration requirements: a nonrefundable $75 deposit is required to reserve your seat. This $75 is deducted from the $600 tuition.
To register, ask questions, etc., send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This class is capped at 12 students.
If you grew up like me, you were taught that mother is the holiest of holy. She is a saint. She is the altar you are to sacrifice yourself at, again and again and again.
But what about those of us for whom mother is abyss?
What about those of us for whom wasn’t encouraging or supportive?
What about those of us for whom mother was (and still is) neglectful and abusive?
What about those of us who know mother did the best she could but the child you still didn’t get what she needed?
Have you wanted to write about your antagonistic relationship with your mother but don’t know how?
Have you found it difficult to dig into these memories? Do you not know how to even begin?
Have you dealt with backlash when you dared to talk or write about your relationship with your mother? Were you told: solo hay una madre (there is only one mother), called ungrateful, treasonous, a traitor? Or have you imagined the scenario and been paralyzed by it? Have you internalized this shame?
I created this class for you.
In the Writing the Mother Wound class, we will look at how writers have written about the mother wound. We will read essays and poems, novel excerpts, memoirs and short stories. We will read excerpts of books by therapists and psychologists who’ve studied the longstanding effects of the mother wound and being the child of a narcissistic parent.
This is a multi-genre workshop. We will read fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
To be clear, this isn’t therapy. I am not a therapist. I am a writer who writes a great deal about her own mother wound, and has read obsessively about it in my own healing journey, so I know firsthand how difficult it is to broach this topic, and have found that reading the work of others who have dared to do so, has helped me write my own.
The goals of the class are:
Why did I create the Writing the Mother Wound Class?
Tuition for the class is $600. Payment plans are available. If one is required, please send an email to email@example.com.
Need-based, partial scholarships are also available. See below for details on how to apply.
There are also two scholarships available, funded by a Writing Our Lives repeat offender “who knows this class will change your writing and your life.”:
1. Scholarship of $300 for a VONA/Voices alum who:
2. Scholarship of $300 for a single mother who would otherwise be unable to attend the workshop.
How to apply:
Send a letter detailing:
Send the letter with “Writing Our Lives Scholarship” in the subject line to: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: First dibs on scholarships go to students who have not received a scholarship in the past.)
Upcoming In-Person and On-Line Classes (more information coming soon):
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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