Nonfiction | Seminar

1-Day Nonfiction Seminar: Creating Meaning in Personal Essays

When you sit down to write an essay, how do you connect your personal story to a larger theme? How can you tell if your story is important? Which parts of the story matter? Why should the reader care about your life? How do you choose which details to include? When we write personal essays, we are often creating something out of seemingly nothing. The craft of creating something out of nothing is my favorite—and the most challenging—aspect of the personal essay.

In this class, we will explore these questions and more while studying essays which master theme and meaning, from authors such as Alexander Chee, Joan Didion, Heather Sellers, and Porochista Khakpour, among others. Throughout the afternoon, Chloe will share her tips and tricks of the trade and create an encouraging and lively environment. Writers of any level should feel welcome to join, whether you’re just starting out or have been published in the past. Students will leave class more confident in their abilities to create a meaningful and effective essay and will generate the beginning of three new essays in class.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Ideas for three new essay drafts and how they will begin

- Learn how to tap in to the inner trust you must have in yourself as a writer

- Learn ninja tricks of how to create theme & meaning

- Light feedback from Chloe and your classmates

- Make new writer friends and expand your writing community

- Generate new ideas in a fun and safe environment

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

In-class reading and in-class prompts with light feedback.

Chloe Caldwell

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. 

Testimonials

"WOMEN by Chloe Caldwell is a beautiful read/a perfect primer for an explosive lesbian affair/an essential truth."

Lena Dunham actress and writer

"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."

Lidia Yuknavitch author of THE SMALL BACKS OF CHILDREN and THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER

"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."

Cheryl Strayed author of WILD and TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS

“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. ”

Heidi Julavits author of THE FOLDED CLOCK

"One of the most endearing and exciting writers of a generation."

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

"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."

Powells.com bookseller

"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."

Emily Smith former student

"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."

Vanessa Golenia former student

"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. "

Audrey Moyce former student

"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."

Jillian Eugenios former student