Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Nonfiction Workshop: Nailing Your Narrative

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"(Personal essayists) are called 'selfish,' 'self-indulgent,' 'masturbatory,' and 'navel-gazers.' Our family and friends are pitied, and it's recommended we stop writing and immediately seek therapy." -Jay Ponteri, In Defense of Navel Gazing

The personal essay genre is vital for connection in our culture. When a personal essay is done masterfully, it isn’t about you; it’s about human connection and universal themes. In this 6 week class, you will study contemporary, timeless, and experimental lyric essays and come out of class with finished essays of your own. Each writer will workshop twice, and will meet with Chloe once throughout the course for an individual conference.

Students will experiment with different essay forms such as the braided essay and the lyric essay.  You will learn how to engage readers, find your audience and your unique voice. Chloe will provide inspiration in the form of prompts, readings, videos, and will bring in a surprise guest author.

There will be an ongoing conversation about how to cope with family and friends while writing and publishing nonfiction, and where to publish your work. This class is perfect for any writer working on an essay collection or is eager to learn more about the complicated and important personal essay genre and creative nonfiction.

*no class 7/3


-thoughtful, intensive peer and instructor feedback on two personal essay submissions

-one productive, personal conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement

-access to a nurturing community of writers and readers

-detailed information about the path to publication, from preparing a personal essay for submission to pitching editors to figuring out what venues are right for your work

-introductions to forms like the lyric and braided essay, and practical tools for using those forms to tell your own stories 

-strategies for dealing with invasive question about personal writing (and the comments!) as well as how to navigate the difficult terrain of writing about loved ones

-more confidence as a writer, on and off the page! 

Chloe Caldwell

Chloe Caldwell is the author of The Red Zone: A Love Story, the critically acclaimed  novella WOMEN and essay collections I'll Tell You in Person and Legs Get Led Astray. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, Bon Appétit, The Cut,  Longreads, NylonBuzzfeed, and more. She lives in Hudson, NY. 


"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."

"One of the most endearing and exciting writers of a generation."


“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

"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

"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."


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

Lena Dunham

"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

"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 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