When done effectively, writing the mundane details of our lives can speak to the state of today's political climate. Sometimes the more micro and nuanced our writing is, the more penetrating and effective it can be.
Some examples of writers who pull this off are David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Jenny Zhang, Heidi Julavits, Emily Gould, and Mary HK Choi. Considering the lyrics of certain music can also be extremely helpful for this genre: Sun Kill Moon, Courtney Barnett, and Sufjan Stevens, for example.
In this one-day seminar we will explore different mediums for expressing personal stories, including stand-up comedy and song lyrics. Students will leave class with new tools and outside-the-box ways of approaching the seemingly humdrum aspects of their lives and connect them to larger, more universal themes. We will explore unconventional forms of creative nonfiction, such as lists, distorting chronology, or lyric essay, and students will leave class with a solid start on three essays. This seminar will be lively, informative, and productive. Open to all levels!
- Writing produced in class—in response to prompts —that can be the beginning of something new
- Engagement with new forms for the essay and writers who exemplify this style of nonfiction
- Greater sense of how to use the details of one's own life to tell a compelling, universal story
- Access to an engaged community of fellow personal essay writers
- Strategies for dealing with invasive question and comments about personal writing
- How to navigate the difficult terrain of writing about loved ones
"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. ”
"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."
"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."
"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!"
"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."
"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."