Online | Nonfiction | Intensive

2-Week Online Nonfiction Intensive: Writing the Pandemic Personal Essay

We’ve been in a pandemic for over a year and a half. What has your experience of the pandemic been? This is your opportunity to get that out of your head and into a cohesive personal essay.

Prior to our first meeting, you will write a full first draft (approximately 2500 words) of a personal essay to share with everyone in our group. You will also read and comment on everyone’s work before we meet (I will also provide everyone with individual feedback each week). In addition, I will provide a few essays for reference and inspiration before each meeting; you will read the work and submit a 250-word response to those essays. After our class ends, you will have a completed first draft of a personal essay on your pandemic experience.

This class is for all levels of writers, but some writing experience is preferred.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.


- You will complete a full draft of a personal essay around your individual pandemic experience

- You will read and comment on multiple published pandemic-related personal essays

- You will gain an understanding of what is next for your personal essay: comments for a revised draft or readiness for submitting to publications

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


You will be required to submit a draft of a personal essay (approximately 2500 words) to the class prior to our first meeting, and you will be required to read and comment on each other's work during our time together. We will spend our two days together workshopping and polishing that draft. You will also be provided a reading list prior to our meeting (3-5 essays each week). You will be required to submit a short (250 word) response to the readings each week.


Saturday #1

Brief introductions: we will send each other written introductions ahead of time, so this is just the opportunity to introduce yourself so we can put a face/voice to the writer.

Short review of the readings: I will require everyone to write a short (250 word) response to the readings (will be shared with everyone), so this will just be a quick 15min chance to discuss any burning issues.

Looking closely at the work: as you will already have a draft (approx 2500 words) and will have shared it will everyone in workshop, we will go around and discuss each writers' essay. This is not a full workshop; how much time we spend on each essay is contingent upon how many writers are in the course.

Goals for the upcoming week: what needs to be accomplished in order to produce a completed first draft by next week.

Saturday #2

Check ins: I will check in with each writer to see how they progressed with their essay during the past week.

Short review of the readings: I will require everyone to write a short (250 word) response to the readings (will be shared with everyone), so this will just be a quick 15min chance to discuss any burning issues.

Revisions: this revised draft will have been shared with everyone in the group (and everyone will have commented), so we will go around and discuss each writers' work and review the progressions made.

Goals moving forward: we will discuss how far each writer is to a completed first draft of their essay. We may discuss the submission process and where to submit, but this depends on the developmental markers of the work.

Frances Badalamenti

Frances is the author of the novels, I Don't Blame You (2019) and Salad Days (2021). Some of her shorter work can be found at The Believer Magazine, BOMB Magazine, Longreads, Vol.1 Brooklyn and elsewhere. She teaches writing workshops and also works individually as a counselor and mentor for writers. Frances lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son.  


"SALAD DAYS is about those gravy days when stakes are high, choices are fraught, and your friends are your world. Place is the main character in this book, the 90s indie music scene is a backdrop, and the prose will remind you of your own conflicted and spectacular salad days."

Chloe Caldwell Author of I'LL TELL YOU IN PERSON and WOMEN

"SALAD DAYS paints 90s slacker youthdom in Camel Lights smoke and warm beer bottle colors. This captivating novel reminded me how you never fully leave behind that early crew and clubhouse —here a late lamented NJ neighborhood bar/iconic indie rock venue—where you made your first stand as the person you would become. Fran Badalamenti nails the details and longings so hard I found myself mourning my uncertain past all over again."

Amy Rigby author of GIRL IN A BAND and former member of The Shams

"I DON'T BLAME YOU is a raw, irreverent, wrenching exploration of the trauma and joy of being a daughter and a mother."


"Frances Badalementi is the best writing instructor I didn’t know I needed. Workshop was masterfully facilitated and, as a fellow facilitator and instructor, I recognized how Frances deftly and neatly encouraged and pushed us to improve while always making sure we felt encouraged, empowered, and enthused. This class – and several of the relationships formed in it – will have an enduring effect on me as a writer and a person. "

Steve P. former Catapult Workshop Student

"Frances is an astute reader and editor and offers compassionate yet constructive feedback."

Creativity + Counseling client

"Frances has been an amazing teacher, reader and editor. She has a super keen eye and is very supportive in her feedback."

Creativity + Counseling client

"Frances is a fantastic writing instructor—she offers specific, insightful feedback and does so in a way that is incredibly supportive. I appreciated how she prioritized making the workshop a safe and positive environment, and how she encouraged us to submit work each week. The generative nature of her course inspired me to produce more new writing than I have in a very long time!"

Steph former Catapult student