Memoir | Nonfiction | Workshop

12-Week Nonfiction Book Draft Generator

This class is for those writing book-length creative nonfiction: memoir, essays, reportage, and hybrid forms of personal narrative. Writing a book is hard, but there are clear and practical steps a writer can take to demystify the process and get their story onto the page. This twelve-week workshop is for writers at every stage of the process (from the first couple of chapters to full draft).

During our time together, we will examine the mechanisms through which books are made, workshop, explore craft, and, at the conclusion of the course, each writer will have a book draft or a full plan for a book draft in their hands. In our final class, writers will have the opportunity to participate in a moderated Q&A and share their work with agents who work with memoir and nonfiction projects.

We welcome all forms of creative nonfiction. The goal of this class is to come to each project on its terms, and to learn from various forms of storytelling how to tell ours best. This is a workshop-heavy class, with craft discussions designed to speak directly to student work.

Due to the intensive nature of our work, this class is limited to six writers. Individuals will be expected to write in their own time, so that class time can be used efficiently. Each writer will also be expected to read and give detailed feedback on others' work.

In the first weeks, we’ll set the parameters for our discussion both in terms of what you hope your projects to be, as well as the lenses through which we will try to hone and develop them. You should already have your project in mind, and at least 25 pages of your work-in-progress, but the class will be built to facilitate the creation of new work, as much as to shape that which has already been written.

We will set up a respectful and supportive space, to ensure a nourishing environment in which we are invested in helping each writer achieve their project. We will work to help each writer figure out what they hope their project to be, and how they might get there. We will set up clear goals for each writer and clear parameters for our conversations.

If they put in the proper time and dedication, writers will graduate this class with a first (or most of a) full draft as well as the necessary tools to revise their work into its clearest and most powerful form.

To apply, please submit the first chapter of your work-in-progress (up to 25 pages). Writers should be prepared to workshop 25-100 pages of their work by the time the course begins.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- A full draft (or most of one), with detailed feedback and editorial notes

- A deeper sense of the unique strengths of your personal storytelling (what are the burning questions your work is asking?)

- The opportunity to workshop your own writing and that of others in a supportive, compassionate space

- Techniques that can be used over again to produce compelling, voice-driven personal writing

- An understanding of nonfiction storytelling techniques and narrative structure

- 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:

- Students will be expected to read each others' work, and give detailed feedback, as well as complete their own work to a deadline. We will not spend class time writing, so students will need to do this in their own time.

- Each student will have the chance to workshop twice, and over the 12 weeks, we will read up to 300 pages of each student's work. Writers should be prepared to give thorough feedback on each other’s work in the form of a typed letter of approximately 500 words. Line edits are not mandatory, but are encouraged.

- The instructor will deliver feedback in private meetings that follow each workshop (each student gets two one-on-one meetings) and will also submit one typed editorial memo with specific suggestions for revision at the end of the course. These private meetings will also help the writer set a plan in place for the work ahead, as well as to answer more practical querying/publishing concerns.

Sofija Stefanovic

Sofija Stefanovic is a Serbian-Australian writer and storyteller based in Manhattan. Her memoir, Miss Ex-Yugoslavia, is a sometimes funny sometimes dark story about being an immigrant kid during the Yugoslavian Wars. She’s a regular storyteller with The Moth, and has traveled with their Mainstage, telling personal stories across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Guardian.com, and Elle.com, among others. She hosts This Alien Nation—a celebration of immigration at Joe’s Pub.  

Testimonials

“Her quirky, poignant, relatable anecdotes offer a nuanced and unflinching portrait of lived experience…A fresh and timely perspective on the immigrant experience – required reading.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Funny and tragic and beautiful in all the right places. I loved it.”

Jenny Lawson author of FURIOUSLY HAPPY, LET'S PRETEND THAT NEVER HAPPENED, and YOU ARE HERE

“Smart, spirited…Full of lively anecdotes [that] sharply dwells on the parallels between immigration and growing up. Both involve the loss of old comforts paired with the excitement of new opportunities.”

Booklist starred review

"Sofija ... instinctually understands the story you are telling and how you help you tell it in your own voice – be that hilarious, heartbreaking, or both at once."

Liam Pieper author of FEEL GOOD HIT OF THE YEAR

"Sofija Stefanovic’s beautiful memoir MISS EX-YUGOSLAVIA depicts the elegant transit of a girl becoming an artist. This is a story we yearn to know: How does a girl lose her childhood, family, and nation, yet nurture her memories, dreams, and art? Stefanovic hits all her marks, and she keeps us in her thrall.”

Min Jin Lee National Book Award finalist and author of PACHINKO

"Sofija instantly gets what you're trying to say with your writing, and knows how to help you express it much more clearly. She's also very friendly and funny!"

Lorelei Vashti author of DRESS, MEMORY