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March 20, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm PDT

Nonfiction and memoir writers, learn to shape your essays into a book with Sebastian Matthews and Rebecca McClanahan.

About this Event

The nonfiction writer who creates a book from independent pieces encounters challenges that the writer of a single-arc narrative does not. Though each essay can stand alone, each should also relate to the other essays in significant ways to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the writer (and, later, the reader) needs to see the forest, not just the separate trees.

In this workshop, we’ll explore basic shaping principles and combine our discussion with brief in-class writing prompts and take-away exercises.

You are encouraged, though not required, to bring to the workshop:

1) A list of your essays or drafts (in-process or completed) that you imagine could be part of a book of essays or a memoir-in-essays.


2) Notes on essay collections or memoirs-in-essays that you admire, paying close attention to how the books are structured to create an effective whole.

This class meets online via Zoom videoconferencing Saturday March 20, 2021, 1pm-4pm (Eastern time).

Cost: $75 General Admission. Partial need-based scholarships are available for this workshop. Registration is through Eventbrite only: we are no longer accepting registrations by check.

Sebastian Matthews is the author of the memoir In My Father’s Footsteps and three books of poems, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on CollisionWe Generous, and Miracle DayBeginner’s Guide won the Independent Publisher Book Award’s silver medal. Matthews also co-edited, along with Stanley Plumly, Search Party: The Collected Poems of William Matthews (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize). He currently serves on the board at Vermont Studio Center and on the advisory board for Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts & Letters. His recently completed books, Beyond Repair: Encounters in a Fractured World (a memoir in essays) and The Life & Times of American Crow (a collage novel), are both due out in the Fall of 2020.

Rebecca McClanahan’s eleventh book, In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in fall 2020. Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, Brevity, The Sun, River Teeth, and in anthologies published by Simon & Schuster, Beacon, Norton, and Bedford/St. Martin, among others. Recipient of two Pushcart prizes, the Glasgow Award in Nonfiction, the Wood Prize from Poetry Magazine, (twice) the Carter Prize for the Essay, and the N.C. Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, she teaches in the MFA programs of Rainier Writing Workshop and Queens University, and in the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. She can be reached at www.RebeccaMcClanahanWriter.com.

REFUND POLICY: The Flatiron Writers Room reserves the right to cancel this workshop if not enough people sign up, in which case you will receive a full refund. You may request a refund up until one week before the class starts via Eventbrite or email to flatironwritersroom[at]gmail.com for a full tuition refund (Eventbrite will not refund its fees). After that date, no refunds will be made. We do not give credit for future classes/events in lieu of refunds under this policy.

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