APPLY BY JANUARY 19
Why A Private Workshop:
Here’s the thing about the personal essay. Get it wrong and you can be branded a solipsist, a whiner, a shameless exploiter of yourself and others, or, gasp . . . confessional. Get it right and you can touch readers in ways they didn’t think were possible—and change the course of your writing career in the process.
I've been lucky enough to forge a career around the personal essay. Part of this is due to timing. When I started out there were no comment boards, no social media, no bloggers ready to rip my work apart before they’d even read it. As a result, I took risks in my writing. Without constantly looking over my shoulder in anticipation of criticism or a Twitter smackdown, I was able to wrestle with sensitive topics and express complicated and often controversial ideas. I was able to develop a recognizable voice that got the attention of editors and resonated with readers.
In the years since, I've had the privilege of helping hundreds of students find their own voices, excavate their most original and daring ideas and tell their stories with the kind of energy, honesty and craft that will help take them to the next artistic and professional levels. And for the first time ever, I'm offering that guidance in a private, weekend-long workshop in my home.
Who It’s For:
Intermediate to advanced writers. These distinctions are difficult to quantify, but it would be great if you’ve spent at least a few years thinking seriously about your writing and doing as much of it as you can. You need not have published, but a desire to be published in the future and a familiarity with the workshop format is a plus. (You’ll be expected to have read your classmates’ submissions and come prepared with constructive, thorough feedback.)
Due to limited space, the class is admissions based and capped at 8 students. Please send no more than 20 pages of personal writing along with a note explaining your creative and professional goals.
What You’ll Get Out Of It:
Think of this as a workshop combined with an extensive, free-ranging and highly interactive craft talk lead by me (plus maybe a special guest or two.) It is not “generative,” which is to say that other than a few short exercises you will not be generating any new writing on the premises. The goal is to come out of the weekend with new ideas and a roadmap for making your essay not just publishable but also a game changer for your career and your sense of yourself as a writer.
Your essay will receive a solid hour of discussion in the workshop format. As fruitful as that discussion should be, it’s my experience in courses like these that inspiration is just as likely to happen during spontaneous conversations as during workshop discussions. So think of it as one hour of focused critique of your essay and 15 more hours of fascinating and equally fruitful conversations with fellow writers (sense of humor is a must, by the way).
The weekend includes a catered dinner Friday evening, plus catered lunch Saturday and Sunday. Coffee, soft drinks and snacks available at all times.
My apartment in upper Manhattan. Comfy seating, nice views, close to the subway. (Phoebe the Saint Bernard available upon request.)
February 9-11, 2018 Friday 6-10pm Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm
$1300 per person, $300 deposit required upon acceptance
How to apply:
Application deadline January 19 (notification by January 22). Limited to 8 participants.
Application is simple: Send no more than 20 pages of personal writing along with a note explaining your creative and professional goals.
For more info, click the contact button above. To go ahead and apply, email your submission and note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Centre Award for Creative Nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish-Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. She was a recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim fellowship and a 2016 NEA fellowship. From 2005 to 2016 she was an opinion columnist for The Los Angeles Times, to which she still contributes occasionally. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue and The Atlantic, among other publications.
Meghan is a member of the adjunct faculty in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. In the spring of 2017 she was the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Writer in the graduate Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. She has taught essay and memoir workshops at The Aspen Writers’ Festival, The Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference, The Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop, and The New York Times School of Education among many other places.
From 2016 to 2018, Meghan wrote the Egos column in The New York Times Book Review. This column reviewed new memoirs and taught her a lot about what works and what doesn’t when writing about oneself. (Lesson one: sometimes a personal essay does the job far better than a whole book could ever do.)