Writing and Selling Personal Essays about Deeply Personal Subjects
Romantic love and heartbreak. Marriage and family strike. Friendship and conflict. Loss and death. In Ethan Gilsdorf’s intensive course, you will learn how to write a short personal essay about a significant and complex event, theme, or relationship in your life. You’ll model your essays after work published in such places as the New York Times ”Modern Love” column, Salon’s “Life Stories,” “Love & Sex” and “Parenting” columns, and Psychology Today’s “Two Minute Memoir,” and literary journals such as The Rumpus and Tin House, with an aim to publish your work there. Via daily exercises, you will develop your toolbox of craft tools which include: narrowing the focus and theme of your personal story; honing in on the main plot and character arc; characterizing yourself and others; writing compelling scenes and seamless passages of reflection and retrospective narration; and moving your narrative through time (aka “time travel”). By the end of this workshop, you will have completed a draft of at least one essay in the 1,000 to 3,000 word range, as well as written several passages (inspired by the exercises) which may be used for your final or other essays. These exercises, as well as a draft of an entire essay, will be shared with the class for feedback. Ethan will also have one email conversation with you in which he will offer suggestions for revision on the final essay. Your short personal essays should also have readers; to that end, Ethan will also offer advice on submitting these essays to literary and commercial publications.
Journalist, memoirist, essayist, critic, poet, and teacher Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. His work has been cited in the anthology Best American Essays 2016. His personal essays, fiction, poetry, reviews and other nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Boston Globe Magazine, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe, WBUR, Psychology Today, Poetry, The Southern Review,The Quarterly, Exquisite Corpse, The North American Review, and in several anthologies. He received his BA from Hampshire College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. He is also the winner of the Hobblestock Peace Poetry Competition and the Esme Bradberry Contemporary Poets Prize. Gilsdorf is co-founder of Grub Street's Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP), and teaches creative writing at Grub Street, where he serves on the Board of Directors. Follow Ethan’s adventures at www.ethangilsdorf.com or Twitter @ethanfreak.