Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Into the Unknown

notify me when this class returns

When I've taught Catapult classes in the past, I often hear students' desires to find their "voice." This is a tricky thing to solve as both a teacher and as a writer, because so much of it has to do with the ineffable—that moment when a sentence suddenly feels right. So, how do you access that feeling? I believe it has a lot to do with writing quickly and freely in early drafts, and then editing the work for precision later. I've designed this workshop with this pattern in mind: it's a space where you can potentially free yourself of your own perfectionist tendencies and write in a way that allows you to surprise yourself. In this class, experiments can flourish and we can think of drafts as simply a place to begin.

Weeks 1-3: In one of these classes, you have the option to either workshop something you've been working on for awhile, or something brand new. Each class will also include an in-class reading or craft discussion, with an additional optional writing prompt each week.

Weeks 4-6: In one of these classes, you will be workshopping something that's brand new—preferably something written in the first three weeks of workshop. You can use the prompts to generate new material, or create something totally outside of that.

I know this structure may seem intimidating at first, but I encourage you to look at it as an opportunity to disrupt your writing routine for the better. Suddenly, you'll see how much you can accomplish when you put yourself to the test. In our in-class readings and discussions, we'll look at writing of all genres and styles—I'm especially fond of lyric essays, prose poems, and writing about the body. We'll also look at how we can begin to consider other forms of art as inspiration for our writing: things like dance, music, and performance art.

Each student will have the opportunity to workshop twice. In private one-on-one meetings after workshop, we will discuss your writing in further detail, brainstorm possible publication ideas for your work, discuss sustainable writing habits, and go over a reading list that will be personalized for each student. Writers of all experience levels and genres are encouraged to apply.

*No class on February 5th

Chelsea Hodson

Chelsea Hodson is the author of the book of essays Tonight I'm Someone Else and the chapbook Pity the Animal. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Bennington College and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony and PEN Center USA Emerging Voices. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Frieze Magazine, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She also teaches at Mors Tua Vita Mea, a workshop in Italy that she co-founded with Tyrant Books editor Giancarlo DiTrapano. 

Testimonials

"No one writes like Chelsea Hodson. These essays are a welcome battering ram to the chest."

CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS

"The experience of reading these essays is akin to careening down a desert road on a bike with no brakes while a perfectly full moon hangs plump... reading Hodson's work feels risky; it's breathtaking."

NYLON

“Bracingly good—wild and chiseled, both. Hodson’s bold experiments and assertions feel refreshing and welcome.”

Maggie Nelson author of BLUETS and THE ARGONAUTS

"Chelsea Hodson's essays are a specialized artform where poetry meets philosophy. They reflect on the gruesome side of being a woman in the excellent tradition of Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath."

Atticus Lish author of PREPARATION FOR THE NEXT LIFE

"Chelsea is one of the most generous workshop instructors I've ever worked with. I was looking for a something that would help break me out of a writing slump, and Chelsea's workshop did that and so much more. From the readings to the class discussions, Chelsea puts an incredible amount of thought and care into tailoring workshop to her students' specific needs and interests. She encourages risk and experimentation, and creates the perfect environment for breaking out of your comfort zone and growing as a writer. I was so impressed by the way she cultivates a real sense of community and collaboration within her workshop. Her enthusiasm for reading and writing is contagious, and in just six weeks, I felt I had learned an entire semester's worth of knowledge and gained so much insight into my own writing process. I truly cannot say enough good things about Chelsea as an instructor."

former student

"Chelsea Hodson's nonfiction class at Catapult is the best writing class I have ever taken. It was intimate, challenging, and inspiring, and it felt like a real college seminar. It was clear that Chelsea put a lot of careful thought and preparation into each two-hour class, which often went over the allotted time with extra assignments and lessons (a wonderful thing!). Her feedback on each of our drafts was equally rigorous and generous, and her command of the classroom was both authoritative and encouraging. She cared about each student's individual voice and ambitions and ensured that we got the help we needed. Chelsea went above and beyond, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been under her tutelage!"

former student

"Chelsea is an excellent and generous teacher. In her suggestions for editing, she has completely changed the way I see each individual sentence, and the work it can or needs to do. Moreover, she has a way of talking about piece structure that makes the revising process seem manageable and straightforward (even if there is much rewriting to do!). Lastly, she is incredibly knowledgeable about writing opportunities and candid about her journey as a published writer, and she shares that wealth of knowledge and experience at every turn."

former student