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WOW! Women On Writing Workshops & Classes

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Featured Online Class

CREATING POEMS AND PERSONAL ESSAYS FROM JOURNAL AND JOURNAL STYLE WRITINGS  by Sheila Bender

START DATE:  Monday, October 6, 2014

DURATION:  6 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Each week, students will write from three suggested journaling exercises, select one of their writings and submit it for recommendations on what to do next in creating a poem or essay. By week’s end they will submit a revision for further response from the instructor and classmates. Students may use journal entries from their journals in lieu of the exercises if they’d like.

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

  1. To create fresh writing starts
  2. To hone expansion and revision skills
  3. To practice deepening and shaping material for finished writing
  4. To practice tips for polish editing

Taking this class not only gave me a safe container to hold and work with my grief, but helped to jumpstart my writing again. It was a pleasure to work with each of my classmates, and I enjoyed the process of sharing our work. ~ April Doherty

I’m sooo excited. Thanks to you and your smarts and response. I love what you have done. Your work on my one section is a gift as you are indeed a gift. I have carefully read and read your revision and with increasing clarity see what you have done; it works much better for certain and has set me on a “new and improved” start. ~ Nancy Levinson

. . . your writing guidance is priceless! ~ Edith O’Nuallain

Thank you all so much for reading and providing feedback to me, and for encouraging me to open that vein! Sheila, this has by far been the best writing class I have ever taken as far as the process (Velcro and feelings, curiosities) and the feedback. You are amazing! ~ Ruth Ewers

You’re a wonderful memoir teacher—truly, the best I’ve had. ~ Debby Silverberg

WEEKS AT A GLANCE:

Week One: Listing and Litany Exercises that Spark Longer Work
There is power in lists (think of Tim O’Brian’s “The Things They Carried” and William Stafford’s poem “Things I Learned Last Week” and Gary Synder’s work “Things to Do Around a Lookout.” Whether you are writing prose or poetry, sparking your writing with certain kinds of lists is a valuable foundation.

Assignment: The instructor will provide three detailed lessons/prompts that involve making lists with suggestions on how to create polished pieces from freewrites involving this strategy. Each student will receive her detailed response with suggestions on where to go next with the piece and when the student submits a revision, there will be detailed response to that, too.

Week Two: Persona—Taking on a Voice to Spark New Work
Writers often speak in persona, whether that is Bigfoot in Ron Carlson’s story “I Am Bigfoot” or Red Riding Hood in Lana Hechtman Ayres’s poetry collection A New Red or flash fiction writer Bruce Holland Roger’s inanimate objects in his story “Estranged.”

Assignment: The instructor will provide three detailed lessons / prompts that involve using persona with suggestions on how to create polished pieces from freewrites involving this strategy. Each student will receive her detailed response with suggestions on where to go next with the piece and when the student submits a revision, there will be detailed response to that, too.

Week Three: The Epistolary Form
The letter form is a hallowed one in literature from novels to poems to nonfiction. Richard Hugo’s poetry collection 31 Letters and 13 Dreams, Elisabeth Robinson’s novel The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, and psychologist Dr. Brad Sachs’, When No One Understands: Letters to a Teenager on Life, Loss and the Hard Road to Adulthood are examples.

Assignment: The instructor will provide three detailed lessons / prompts that involve the letter form with suggestions on how to create polished pieces from freewrites involving this strategy. Each student will receive her detailed response with suggestions on where to go next with the piece and when the student submits a revision, there will be detailed response to that, too.

Week Four: Extended Metaphor
Extended metaphor allows us to compare and contrast as well as to inform. Is a man or woman who won’t commit something like a fast food hamburger (for one, comes with mustard and Ketchup so everyone chooses to taste what they want? Is writing like playing baseball or gold mining? Is pulling out educational programs in this country like pulling rivets off an aircraft and expecting it to fly safely? Metaphor allows fiction writers to enliven characters’ speech, thoughts and viewpoints and allows poets and nonfiction writers to investigate what may have seemed “unsayable.”

Assignment: The instructor will provide three detailed lessons / prompts that involve the use of extended metaphor with suggestions on how to create polished pieces from freewrites involving this strategy. Each student will receive her detailed response with suggestions on where to go next with the piece and when the student submits a revision, there will be detailed response to that, too.

Week Five:  Fragmentary Writing
Modern writers are fond of writing in parts. Examples are Kim Stafford’s memoir 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared, Pam Houston’s novel Contents May Have Shifted, lyric essays by Brenda Miller and poems in parts by Robert Hass. Impassio press publishes a journal call fraglit on line. Writing in shorter pieces and snippets that accumulate to make a whole allows us to say more than we might have without the need for connective tissue. White space and other devices do that work.

Assignment: The instructor will provide three detailed lessons / prompts that involve the fragmentary writing with suggestions on how to create polished pieces from freewrites involving this strategy. Each student will receive her detailed response with suggestions on where to go next with the piece and when the student submits a revision, there will be detailed response to that, too.

Week Six: Polish Edits and Continued Revisions
During the last week of this course we will discuss final edits and other skills and strategies writers bring to the art of revision.

Assignment: Students may further revise, edit and submit two of the pieces they’d already extended from original starts for discussion by the class. The instructor will suggest journals and venues for publication of the writing generated in the class.

Materials needed:  The instructor will post each of the 6 weeks’ exercises and models at the opening of each week so students can work on generating that writing on their own time, at their own speed during the week. She will respond to posted work within 24 hours so the writer can get started on expanding the piece.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:  Sheila Bender, founder of WritingItReal.com, is the author of many books on writing, including the popular Writing and Publishing Personal Essays and Creative Writing DeMystified. Her memoir is entitled A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief. Her book of poems is Behind Us the Way Grows Wider. As a writer, teacher and editor, she believes that writing so others understand our hearts and minds helps us understand ourselves, heal grief and sadness and grow. She is a frequent presenter at conferences such as Centrum Foundation’s summer Port Townsend Writer’s Conference and Writing It Real’s annual conferences.

COST:  $180. The class will use a Google Groups format, to which the instructor will provide access.

BUY NOW:  Creating Poems and Personal Essays from Journal and Journal Style Writings, by Sheila Bender (6 weeks, starting 10/6/14) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:
classroom[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com

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