Online | Fiction | Nonfiction | Seminar

4-Week Open-Genre Seminar: Studying the Self

Meditation is a simple, humbling, and profound practice that can strengthen both our writing and our composure in facing life. Meditation, like writing, asks us to sit still and receive whatever comes up, to accept the mysterious process of creation. Writing, meanwhile, is a powerful way to “study the self,” in Zen master Dogen’s words: as we become intimate with who we are, we also begin to release our small ideas of that person.

This four-week course will introduce you to the basics of zazen, sitting meditation. We will use Buddhist texts as a starting point for discussions of literary craft, opening a fresh window on our writing practices, and asking questions about the nature of consciousness, history, and our understandings of self.

Each week will begin with a group meditation, offer space to reflect upon the readings, offer generative writing prompts, and then space to share new writing and discuss the writing process. No meditation experience is necessary, and this class is open to writers of all levels.

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. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- A basic introduction to zazen and the ability to start your own meditation practice

- A way to ground and stabilize your writing practice

- Fresh perspectives on creativity and consciousness

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Short weekly readings (10–15 pages each week)

Weekly generative writing exercises (30 min each week)

Daily meditation (optional but encouraged, 5 minutes per day)

COURSE SKELETON:

Week One: Introduction to Zazen, Sitting Meditation

Week Two: Studying the Self: Investigating Our Selves and Histories

Week Three: Forgetting the Self: Letting Go of Our Ideas of Ourselves

Week Four: The Self as the Myriad Things: Finding New Connections to the World

Ryan Lee Wong

Ryan Lee Wong is author of the forthcoming novel Which Side Are You On (Catapult, October '22).

He was born and raised in Los Angeles, the son of a fifth-generation Chinese American father and a Korean immigrant mother. Previously, he served as Program Director for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and Managing Director of Kundiman. He has organized exhibitions and written extensively on the Asian American movements of the 1970s.

He holds an MFA in Fiction from Rutgers-Newark and served on the Board of the Jerome Foundation. He lived for two years at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple and is based in Brooklyn.

Author portrait by Beowulf Sheehan

Testimonials

“Blasting easily woke platitudes, this honest, hilarious, and deeply healing novel gets at the heartbreaking core of building connections between families and friends, and solidarities within and between racial communities. For years, I’ve been waiting for a novel like Ryan Lee Wong’s WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON, and I urge everyone to read it. It is an astonishing debut.”

Cathy Park Hong author of MINOR FEELINGS

“Salty, funny, angry, and heartbreaking, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON synthesizes the struggles of a family that has been working and hoping for a better world for two, maybe three, generations, and in the process, renews our sense of the histories involved—American history, Korean American history, Black history, Los Angeles history. This is a stunning debut, but also a novel I didn’t know I was waiting for.”

Alexander Chee author of HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL

“WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON is a sharp and refreshing debut that tenderly plumbs the depths and angst of coming-of-age. In Reed, we find a narrator seeking meaning in radical politics, and finding more about his family and himself in the search than he knew was possible.”

Naomi Jackson author of THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL

"Once we understood what we were reading stories for, the class fell into a pattern that was easy to follow. The course was nonjudgmental and constructive, in every sense of the word. I don’t think anyone can take this class and not leave a stronger writer and more critical reader."

former student

"The instructor helped me understand flow in writing—not only pace, but how to make my work stand out. There was a wide spectrum of people in the class, and he made each individual comfortable."

former student

"What I enjoyed most was that I was allowed to speak freely about whatever or whomever we were talking about. I wasn't afraid of being persecuted, I was simply allowed to speak."

former student