Historically, women have been effectively shut out of stories about their own sexuality, due to shame, taboos, and silencing. Of course, this is even more true for Black women, individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+, and women who are disabled. We are told it’s inappropriate, it’s best to keep it private, it’s over-sharing, it’s too dark, too gross, too arousing--or even that is being used by the writer to get attention. But putting language to sex and getting it as close as possible to the corporeal experience is vital. It’s also imperative to literature.
In this course, open to writers of all levels, we will learn how to write about desire, fantasies, #MeToo, sexual violence, the grey areas of sexuality, and the edges of pain and pleasure. We will discuss the major craft differences between writing about sex abstractly versus graphically. Anticipating our readers’ tolerance for sex details is an important focus of this course. By the end, participants will have a better understanding of their “WHY” for writing about sex, the details they’re willing to divulge (basically your “HELL YES” and “HELL NO” sex writing menu), and a list of possible publications to submit their non-fiction essays or articles.
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.
- Learn how to use key craft techniques for writing about sex
- Understand how to prepare for readers’ sexual appetites and trauma triggers (as best you can)
- Establish your personal “Sex Writing Menu”: Everything sex-related that you’re enthusiastically willing to tell the world, and everything you are not
- A generative list of story ideas and publications to submit to
- A formula for crafting a great sex-focused pitch (personal essay, reported, or first-person reported)
- An understanding of sex writing ethics and legal considerations
- The confidence to unapologetically write about real sex, in *your* own way
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will receive generative lists of: viable story ideas, list of details they are willing and not willing to disclose, potential publications they will pitch, names & contact info for editors they will pitch, and short in-class writing exercises/prompts.
Students can expect to read a few excerpts before class each week as well as complete five short generative writing exercises. Due to the nature of sex writing and respecting everyone’s comfort level, there will be no submissions shared with other workshop participants. However, students may submit one sex-focused pitch OR one sex-focused excerpt (one page max) to the instructor and receive brief written feedback.
What to Write
Releasing shame, guilt, & taboos
Awaken senses w/ poetry techniques
Abstract V. Graphic Sex Writing
Connect with your WHY
Establish Sex-Writing Menu
Consider your readers: (the importance of trauma-informed sex writing/language/reporting)
Finding it a home
Crafting a great pitch
Legal & ethics considerations w/ non-fiction/memoir sex
Marketing & promotion of sexually-focused work
Building a platform
Sarah Hosseini has written reported features and essays for The Atlantic, CNN, Harper’s Bazaar, The Washington Post, among other publications. She also delivered a TEDx talk “Not Sorry” on the stage in New Delhi, India encouraging women to use their unapologetic voices.
She is the creator of Sovereign Daughter, an empowering journaling community that uses expressive writing techniques for healing. She offers online workshops and private sessions. Sarah holds an MFA from Queens University and is currently querying her memoir.
"She’s not a teacher who digresses or loses track of the students’ attention. She’s very present!"
"Sarah does not shy away from controversial topics – she approaches them with curiosity and a desire to explore the issue from multiple perspectives and angles. She is warm and accessible.”
“Sarah has led many virtual sessions at The Jane Club as an instructor. She always shows up prepared, engaged, and attentive to our members; she is one of our most beloved teachers. The amount of thought and effort she puts into her work shows in the quality of her sessions.”