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Long Form Creative Nonfiction MFA-Style Workshop

Naomi Kimbell

LONG FORM CREATIVE NONFICTION: Compelling Personal Essays and Memoir in 2000 - 4000 Words (an MFA-Style Workshop) by Naomi Kimbell

START DATE: Monday, February 3, 2020

END DATE: Sunday, March 29, 2020

DURATION:  8 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Website

FEEDBACK:  Instructor feedback and critique, peer feedback, group workshopping

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Long Form Creative Nonfiction is an interactive and highly participatory online workshop designed to take you on a deep dive into your writing practice. Participants will spend eight weeks reading essays, reflecting on writing and craft, and writing a piece of up to 4000 words for submission to the group for feedback. Thoughtful and detailed critique of your submissions will be provided by fellow students and the instructor. Additionally, we’ll discuss practical tips and techniques, talk about submissions and potential markets for your work, and discuss the issues that influence our writing practice. Oh, and we’ll have a lot of fun.

Thank you for an enlightening workshop, and thank you to everyone for sharing your writing. I’ve taken my share of these types of workshops over the years, and honestly the insight and depth of knowledge shared here ranks among the best I’ve encountered. I truly learned a lot not just about my writing but also from what was shared with the group. Naomi, I also am grateful for the challenge you set in the first few weeks of class, which is that in the times we find ourselves today, personal essay and memoir can transcend the mere personal to speak universally to privilege and other social issues. This idea resonated with me a great deal, and in my writing these last several weeks I’m much more aware of opportunities to incorporate broader themes. Thank you for that challenge, it’s something that will stay with me far beyond this workshop. ~ Ellen G.

I am finishing up Long Form Creative Nonfiction with Naomi Kimbell. This workshop has been life changing for me. I feel so inspired and empowered as a writer. Naomi really facilitated a safe place to be vulnerable while learning the process. My workshop peers were an amazing group and I am in awe of each of the women I went through this journey with. I really gained a lot of useful knowledge and am sad this is ending! I would absolutely recommend this course and would not hesitate to take another course with Naomi again. ~ Valerie F.

I was initially drawn to work with Naomi Kimbell after reading her honest, innovative writing. Naomi brings an incredible depth of living with her whole heart and mind to her work and teaching. Her passion, curiosity and extensive knowledge of the craft of writing is inspiring. In her writing course she shared diverse and stimulating prompts that included still photographs, different forms, and the writing of authors which opened new spaces inside me and helped deepen the texture and dimension of my poetry. Naomi has a gift for encouraging people to express their unique voice. She listens and communicates with keen intelligence and deep compassion. I appreciate the way she weaves together her sense of humor, new perspectives, great questions and her practical and diligent work ethic. Naomi is an engaging and motivating teacher. ~ Youpa Stein

Naomi’s class is one of the most inspiring classes I’ve ever taken! I’ve never been a flowery writer, and often focused more on meaning, rather than sentence structure and word choice. Writing a lyric essay is something I’ve always dreamed of, but I didn’t really understand the concept until I took her class, “Music, Truth, and the Towns Inside Us: A Cross-Genre Exploratory Workshop.” It changed my life! I now understand how to edit sentences and words down to syllables and consonants to make my prose sing. She created a vibrant learning atmosphere, full of rooms, prompts, videos, and discussion. I usually like to write in silence, but our first assignment was writing to music she selected. The words that flowed from my pen amazed me, and that was due to Naomi’s instruction and safe learning environment. My classmates’ work was impressive, and we had so much fun providing feedback on each other’s essays, poems, fiction, and free-writes. Naomi’s insight into the class book, The Triggering Town, along with her thought-provoking discussion and encouraging feedback made this class exceptional. I’d love to take every class she offers. Her teaching style is compassionate and knowledgeable, and her suggestions for use of language are detailed and eye opening. Taking her class helped me look at the world with wonder. In the past my writing has been described as flat and reporterly. Well, never again. Now I want to go back and revise all my essays for sound. I know Naomi’s class has made me a better writer, and I can’t thank her enough! ~ Angela M. (previous WOW class participant)

Many thanks to Naomi Kimbell for dreaming up the “Music, Truth, and the Towns Inside Us” class I just took. I loved it. I’d read Richard Hugo’s Triggering Town years ago, but I must confess I didn’t completely understand the nuances of all that he was saying. It was a pleasure to be invited to participate in a thoughtful discussion. Naomi not only knows how to write, but also how to guide. I felt like she provided a safe space to experiment and submit my work for review and comments. She was prepared and available throughout the course. I would absolutely take more classes with Naomi. ~ Victoria Melekian (previous WOW class participant)

Naomi seeks a straightforwardness that does not embellish, but, rather, gets to essences—essential ideas, the essence of a story, the deep impulses that drive us to act as we do...she’s a writer of exceptional talent—one of the few who endeavor to compose personal stories as literary works...she finds the unusual within the commonplace, the surprising within the predictable. ~ Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean

Naomi Kimbell chooses her words like a poet. She reads Richard Hugo and Robert Wrigley, and Homer. Like these authors, Naomi is a careful, descriptive, and smart writer. Because Naomi is a true scholar, she knows things ... She has an ear for beauty, and BS—like no one else I’ve ever met. ~ Karin Schalm, author of Poems of Peace in these Warring Times

Naomi Kimbell knows the boundaries of nonfiction, and lucky for us she knows the perfect ways to challenge them. Whether she’s writing about family dynamics or mental illness, Naomi does more than tell a story—she engages the reader in all of her essays as form and content interact. With a fresh and invigorating writing style, her words bring you into each essay and, believe me, once inside you’ll never want to leave. ~ Chelsey Clammer, author of BodyHome and Circadian

WEEKS AT A GLANCE:

WEEK 1: Together, we make a community

Although writing itself is a solitary endeavor, having a community of support is essential. That’s probably the best part about participating in an MFA program, and it’s what we’ll recreate here. In this first week, we’ll get to know one another, discuss our practice as writers, what we bring to the table, and what we hope to achieve over the next eight weeks. We’ll also read some other writers’ writing about writing (Wow! That’s some intense anaphora!) This is how we’ll begin to build our community so that when we critique one another’s work, we’re coming from a place of support. Additionally, if you need inspiration, I’ll provide writing prompts to get you going, as well as post articles on craft that’ll make you laugh (or maybe cry). One of the best ways to get to know one another is to participate in discussion, so we’ll talk (type) a lot, and I’ll assign submission dates for your essays. Students will begin submitting their work according to the schedule in week 4 for workshop in week 5.

WEEK 2: Workshop

Because I am as self-centered as the next internally-focused writer, weekly readings consist of essays that I want to talk about because I like them and want others to read them, or I haven’t read them but I’m curious. If I could, I’d tell you up front what we’re going to read, but I usually change my mind depending upon what I learn about the class participants. I like to tailor the readings. I also like to post new things I stumble upon. I often post in themes, but the readings and what you get from them are only as good as our discussions. Prepare to be chatty. I’ll also post some more interesting (weird?) prompts.

WEEK 3: Workshop

You are not caught in the eternal return, but this week will be similar to weeks one and two in that you’ll be reading some fantastic essays, or at the very least, essays we can learn from. We’ll read some more on craft—that’s my strategy for when I don’t want to write, I read craft essays and I count it as writing—and we’ll engage in lots of discussion. I’ll post more of the best writing prompts you’ve ever encountered (!), and I’ll remind the first submitters that they have a looming deadline.

WEEK 4: Workshop

You’re not bored, you’re totally down for a repeat of the first three weeks! Although the format is the same, the content has changed, and our discussions will only be more satisfying because now we know each other quite well. We’re not just talking about the readings but about our own work. We’ve experimented with prompts and have even posted a bit of writing in the discussion forum! This is fantastic! We’re having a wonderful time! Students 1 & 2 get to submit their essays for critique in week 5.

WEEK 5: Workshop

At 6:00 AM on a July morning in 2018, I stood in the cold awaiting the start of my first-ever half marathon. The mantra for that morning? “I’m not scared! I’m excited!” This is the first student-submission workshop week, and you’re not scared either! Students 3 & 4 will (enthusiastically) submit their essays for critique in week 6.

WEEK 6: Workshop

What else are we afraid of besides submitting newly minted work for critique? Maybe afraid isn’t the right word, but I’ve been writing for years, and I still get squeamish when I hand new work off to a reader. Writing is hard. Submitting your writing for critique is harder, but as Cheryl Strayed said in her inimitable, Dear Sugar on The Rumpus, “Coal mining is harder.” Coal mining is harder! And, frankly, scarier. So, be brave. Surrender to critique. Students 5 & 6 submit your work for critique in week 7.

WEEK 7: Workshop

Maybe this is the eternal return. There’s no proof that it isn’t, except that the essays have changed, we’ve developed more skills as writers, both by writing and critiquing, and we are measurably braver, kinder, and proud of achieving our writing goals. We’re more writerly than we’ve ever been in our lives! Students 7 & 8 submit your work for critique in week 8.

WEEK 8: Looking Toward Submission: Finding the Market for Your Essay

Alas! This is our last week together, and believe me, you will be SAD! You can’t spend eight weeks reading and writing with a group of other creatives and not fall in love with one another just a little bit. We’ll critique our last two essays, and it doesn’t have to end here! You can stay connected and keep writing together if you choose to do so. And I hope you do because all writers need writing friends.

Materials needed: All materials provided.

How the class will be conducted: Students will be given access to password protected web pages on which class materials and discussions will be posted. The class is asynchronous so you can access the class at any time according to your schedule. There are no real-time discussions. Students will need access to a computer with an internet connection and will have access to the class group two days before class begins and for one week after the class concludes.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Naomi Kimbell earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, and her work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, Calyx, The Sonder Review, and other literary journals and anthologies.

When she’s not writing, she teaches online creative writing classes for WOW! Women on Writing and sometimes wanders in the woods, across hillsides, through ghost towns, taking photographs and shooting video to create impressionistic films with ambient scores using her essays, invented landscapes, and found sounds.

COST:  $250, which includes weekly assignments, individual feedback from the instructor, and access to a private group for student interactions.

BUY NOW: Long Form Creative Nonfiction with Naomi Kimbell (8 weeks, starting 2/3/2020) Limit: 8 students. Early registration is recommended.

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

For Class Session Starting 2/3/2020

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Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. Just before class begins, she will e-mail you with instructions on how to get started.

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

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