Writing About Relationships with Chloe Caldwell

How do we face our families and friends after we've plumbed the depths of our relationships with them? Chloe Caldwell can teach you how in this four-week workshop on the art of personal essays.

Your Instructor: Chloe Caldwell, author of 'I'll Tell You in Person' and 'Women'

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 20 students

Price: $350

Class Description

Relationships are complicated. Writing about them is fraught.

When it comes to writing narrative nonfiction, a lot of the time, we're writing about ourselves. And who is the self without our parents, siblings, loved ones, deceased ones, lovers, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, best friends and current partners? The truth is: almost everything we write is somehow inspired or influenced by our relationships—relationships both significant and seemingly insignificant.

So, how do we plumb the depths of our personal relationships without feeling like an asshole? How do we keep our tone fair? How do we know which details to include? How do we face our families after writing about them?

It’s a tricky thing, and something most writers have profound conflict over.

Welcome to Writing about Relationships, a four-week workshop in which you'll discuss ways to become more comfortable with saying what you need to say—without hurting the people you love. You'll practice writing essays in a victimized and heroic tone, so that we can find a middle ground. You'll have conversations about how to cope with your loved ones reading work, and how to deal with hurt feelings and fear. And at the end of the class, you'll get a customized list of publications and writing contests that might be a good fit for your work. This nuanced class will help students grow confidence in themselves and gain concrete tools to carry with them forever.

Students will receive feedback from their fellow students, and from the instructor, and will read work by the writers who have perfected writing about relationships, like Chelsea Martin, Mary HK Choi, Alexander Chee, Melissa Febos and more.

Your instructor, Chloe Caldwell, knows a lot about writing personal essays—and placing them for publication. Her work has been published in venues like The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Longreads The Rumpus, Longreads, Nylon, The Nervous Breakdown, The Sun Magazine, Vol 1. Brooklyn, She also has a piece in the anthology Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NYC, alongside writers like Roxane Gay and Cheryl Strayed. 

Chloe is also a seasoned LitReactor instructor—here's a selection of essays written in workshops under Chloe's tutelage:

What This Class Covers

Week One: Overcoming the Enemies: Fear & Doubt

Students will read essays (TBA in class) and watch videos about fear and the craft of writing personally. Students will be given examples of writers who have taken emotional risks in the essays and books they have published.

Students will be given a prompt and write the essay that they have always felt too afraid to write. This is a classroom with no judgment.

Week Two: I’m not a victim and I’m not a hero: Perfecting Your Tone

No one likes to read a book or essay about a martyr or a victim. It’s equally unenjoyable to read books or essays where the author is bragging to you. This week, students will practice with keeping tones in check. Chloe will assign reading to students giving examples of three tones: victim, hero, and fair/neutral. Students will practice writing with clarity and awareness. Readings TBA in class.

Students will be given a prompt and will write three short essays about the same subject, in drastically different tones.

Week Three: The Story You Have To Tell: Why Your Story is Valid

This week we will discuss how to make the personal universal, and why you are the only person who can tell your story. We’ll read examples of writers who master the craft of making the personal universal by their choice of details, the sound of their voice, specificity and point of view.

Students will revise an essay written in weeks one or two, or write a new essay. Readings TBA in class.

Week Four: Reaching Out and Submitting to Publications

In the final week, there will be a candid conversation about how to talk to families and friends about your writing. There will be time for Q & A. Chloe will also give each student a personalized list of publication venues and writing contests, and encourage them to submit their work from class. She will share her curated list of books on writing that will last you a lifetime.

Goals Of This Class

  • Learn to let go of fear and doubt
  • Dig into the art of the personal essay
  • Balance your writing with your relationships
  • Learn about tone and clarity
  • Read other writers who've nailed the personal essay
  • Get tips on submitting your work for publication
  • Get a customized list of venues that might be a good fit for your work
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