Periplum, not as land looks on a map
But as sea bord seen by men sailing.
-Pound, Canto 59
There is no map to guide you from the first burst of inspiration to the finished work. Every writer has to cut a fresh path through the unknown. And yet there are certain approaches and skills that a writer can develop to make this process—well, not easier or faster necessarily, but certainly more productive and perhaps less horrifying. In this online fiction workshop we’ll learn to read closely, make the most of every sentence, edit and revise manuscripts, get friendly with uncertainty, and cultivate an attitude of openness to self-surprise.
Real-time online group discussion will be supplemented with written lecture materials, as well as some exemplary short stories by past and current masters of the form. Each writer will workshop twice, and will meet once with the instructor over the phone for an individual conference.
Justin Taylor is the author of the novel The Gospel of Anarchy and the story collections Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever and Flings. His memoir, Riding with the Ghost, is forthcoming from Random House in 2020. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Sewanee Review. He has taught writing in the MFA programs at Columbia and Sarah Lawrence, and in the PhD program at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the fiction and nonfiction editor at The Literary Review and is part of the core faculty at the Mountainview low-residency MFA program. He lives in Portland, OR.
"Justin Taylor is a writer who somehow makes available to us just how strange we are, here in late-capitalist early 21st-century America. Taylor’s stories chart a path through the truth, and the result is that Flings is urgent, necessary, funny, and amazing. He is a writer we need to read."
"I tore through FLINGS with white knuckles and a sense of relief, grateful to finally learn more about the human condition from an author who was willing to give it to me straight. Taylor is a brilliant writer who can tell it like it is without sacrificing style, humor, or surprise.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to have a seat in a number of great workshops, but even among those, Justin’s stands out. What sets Justin apart is his ability to guide students through every element of their story, from large-scale concerns like plot and character development to the finer details of language and dialogue. The weeks I spent in Justin’s class greatly strengthened my work, and, even more importantly, taught me how to read my own writing with a sharper critical eye. This is, to my mind, the most valuable skill a writer can have.”
"Justin was great. His feedback was the most useful I've ever gotten in a writing workshop. There was something personally insightful to it, as if it was coming from myself a few months from now, if I'd somehow become a much better writer."