Nonfiction | Bootcamp

Personal Essay Nonfiction Bootcamp

This one-day personal essay writing bootcamp is for nonfiction writers of all levels who are interested in deepening their creative practice and writing more compelling first-person narratives. Topics discussed include: writing about people without selling them out (i.e. not telling their story), allowing yourself to be the villain (while also being gentle with yourself), conveying complex characters in nonfiction, and using B stories in essays. We’ll take a close look at the work of writers—Molly Brodak, Samantha Irby, and Michael Ian Black, among others—who are exceedingly good at writing about themselves and their loved ones with delicacy, humor, and insight. Through in-class exercises, writers will generate the start of a new essay (or two), and will leave with a greater understand of the personal essay form, and the responsibility of the writer to their subjects. 

Chelsea Martin

Chelsea Martin is the author of Everything Was Fine Until Whatever, The Really Funny Thing About Apathy, Even Though I Don't Miss You, and Mickey. Her work has appeared in publications including Buzzfeed, Lenny Letter, Vice, Hobart, and Catapult.


“Martin’s honest writing exists above the confines of fear and social norms…a breath of pure oxygen in a literary environment that often shies away from female grit… A sure hit for fans of Sara Benincasa’s AGORAFABULOUS! and Lena Dunham’s NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL.”

BOOKLIST starred review

“Martin’s book of essays is funny and searching, shockingly honest and relentless in its exploration of her own life, yes, but also just life in general . . . It’s a wild ride of a memoir, and a true glimpse into the mind of an artist as she’s figuring out what life is all about.”


“(T)he author takes a hard look at her youth, chronicling the tumult and hardship that modern American life visits on the young, thanks mostly to the regrettable behavior of grown-ups who are scarcely grown themselves:… it’s the sort of thing with which any sensitive reader who has suffered through adolescence will feel sympathetic recognition.”


“Martin, a writer who’s earned a cult following with her books MICKEY and EVEN THOUGH I DON'T MISS YOU, turns to nonfiction in her debut essay collection, bringing her irreverent voice to tales of childhood, crushes, art school and the California town she grew up in where people just can’t seem to leave . . . If you can relate, pick this one up.”


“This is my favorite book by Chelsea Martin and I’ve read every book by her and even published one. If David Sedaris were younger, hipper, and had once subscribed to CAT FANCY, he might write like this.”

Elizabeth Ellen author of PERSON/A

“Chelsea Martin delivers neon electric jolts of reality in deadpan perfection. Refreshing, hilarious, self-deprecating, as far from pretentious as you can get—you will find you’re no longer alone with your weirdness after reading this book. CACA DOLCE is righteous, painfully righteous.”

Molly Brodak author of BANDIT

“CACA DOLCE explores the discomfort, melancholia and absurdity of taking up space in the world when we aren’t sure if we really deserve it. Deeply human—it’s a lonely book that made me feel less alone.”

Melissa Broder author of SO SAD TODAY

“I highly enjoyed CACA DOLCE—a weird, funny, moving, complex memoir that’s excitingly like if Diane Williams edited a 500-page novel down to 200 pages.”

Tao Lin author of TAIPEI