Nonfiction | Seminar

1-Day Nonfiction Seminar: Writing About Addictions

Addiction is a vague word—we can be addicted to anything: bagels, our phones, the news cycle, hard drugs, marijuana, cigarettes, people, television, alcohol—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In this one-day seminar for every levels of nonfiction writer, we will read some of the best contemporary and classic essays about addictions of all sorts. We will discuss the essays, and you will be given a handful of writing prompts with in-class writing time. We will also talk about how to make something that’s inherently repetitive dramatic and interesting in our work and how to write about intoxication without glamorizing it. Chloe will provide in-class feedback on your writing and will create an encouraging and supportive environment.

You will leave class feeling more confident about your writing and with the beginning to three or more essays and strategies for how to take your addiction writing to the next level on your own.

Videos and readings discussed in class will be by writers including Mary H.K. Choi, Shane Allison, Samantha Irby, Lidia Yuknavitch, Kamna Muddagouni, Melissa Febos, Beth Alvarado, and Mary Karr. (Authors subject to change and more readings TBA in class.) 


- The beginning of three essays

- Tools for writing about uncomfortable feelings

- Strategies for dealing with invasive questions about personal writing

- Ideas for how to successfully depict addiction in your art

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

Chloe Caldwell

Chloe Caldwell is the author of the novella Women (SF/LD 2014) and  the essay collection I'll Tell You in Person (CHP/EB, 2016). She lives in Hudson, New York.


"Chloe is a sensitive editor who pays very close attention to everything she reads. More importantly, she treats every client like an individual and takes each writer’s project into consideration when she gives suggestions."

former student

"Chloe Caldwell has an incisive eye as an instructor and as an editor. When giving feedback on an essay, she brings you around to the real work that needs to be done–her guidance is clear yet never harsh, and has the incredible knack of helping you see the doors that you as a writer need to open on your own. She facilitates a safe, strong environment in which to let your writing grow."

former student

"Chloe really brought me out of my shell as a writer. With her encouragement, I was able to find the true grit and beauty hiding in my essays. Not only is Chloe shameless in her own work, her energy and compassion inspired me to tell the stories I really want to tell. She’s an essay midwife!"

former student

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

Lena Dunham

"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."


"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."


"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."