Transcending the Self: Letting the Writing Lead (with Candice Reffe) - ONLINE
This workshop focuses on how we get out of our own way to serve the writing. The act of writing and revision often includes the act of revising the self we bring to our work, the capacity to let go preconceived ideas to create the space for something new, something we don’t yet know, something that matters not only to us but to others. Showing up on behalf of the work—privileging the writing over the self—is an ongoing practice. Becoming more aware of who we are, and of who shows up at the desk, questioning our assumptions and expanding our perspectives are elements of this practice. Writing: Each week there will be a writing exercise designed to shift awareness and develop the capacity to listen to the writing and let it lead. Most exercises will be in-class—I’ll assign a few in advance of a class meeting. Reading: Each week there will be a reading assignment to complete in advance of class. We’ll discern how other writers use craft to move beyond the personal to the universal, by looking at examples as well as by reading a few relevant essays by writers on writing. Between reading and writing assigned in advance of class, please plan on between 1-3 hours per week. Sharing/feedback: Writers will have opportunities to share new work aloud on the spot (500-word max) and receive encouraging comments. During the final two sessions, which are focused on revision, writers will pair up to share work. For writers of all levels and genres who engage with their craft regularly and have a level of seriousness toward the work. Limited to 10 writers.
WHEN: 6 Weeks: Sundays, November 7 - December 19* (10am - 12pm EST)
WHERE: Online, via Zoom video conference
*No class on 11/28!
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Candice Reffe’s book of poems Live from the Mood Board won Elixir Press’s Antivenom Poetry Award and was published in 2019. She was twice a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a Mass Cultural Council Artist fellow. Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Harvard Review, Hotel Amerika, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Witness and elsewhere. She received an M.F.A. from Columbia University and is a certified professional coach.
GOALS OF THIS CLASS
• Practice getting out of the way of your writing and letting the writing lead
• Experiment with new approaches that expand your perspective and capacity
• Deepen your self-awareness and use that awareness to strengthen your writing
• Generate new writing (and at least one revision) you can take forward
• Take risks in a safe space
• Explore how other writers transcend the personal to write the universal
• Cultivate a supportive community with other writers
COURSE OUTLINE: WHAT WE’LL COVER
Week One: Observation. Through an in-class exercise we’ll write about place as an anthropologist would, observing and recording details. We’ll practice listening to a place, relying on observation over interpretation. We’ll study examples of writing that uses observation to call meaning into being.
Week Two: Writing the Unsaid. Every piece of writing asks the writer to discover what they don’t yet know and express it in language. Through an in-class exercise, we’ll each identify a recent conversation that didn’t go well and write out the dialogue: what was actually said, and what you thought but didn’t say. We’ll process this in pairs, read a few examples of writing the unsaid, and you’ll experiment with generating a piece of writing from the in-class exercise over the following week.
Week Three: Make it Strange. We’ll explore how other writers take something ordinary, familiar, and intentionally make it strange, juxtaposing the strange against the familiar, so we see the familiar anew. We’ll generate or revise a piece of writing that lets strangeness lead, that turns the expected on its head. We’ll read writing that illustrates juxtaposition at work.
Week Four: Conflict. Conflict creates a vibrant source of tension in writing—whether between characters in a narrative or within unresolved subject matter in a poem. Through an interactive exercise (no conflict included!) we’ll each identify our own conflict style and generate a piece born out of a style different from our own. We’ll read examples of writing with an eye toward how it articulates and resolves tension.
Week Five: Wheeling Viewpoint. Using a template called the Life Wheel that assesses satisfaction with various areas of life, we’ll consider how our own patterns impact who we are as writers and what we write about. We’ll either: a. experiment with writing from a point of view based on a template that differs from our own; or b. revise a piece where a pattern of ours is visibly at play and rewrite the pattern to uncover something fresh.
Week Six: Revision. You’ll choose one piece you want to work on for the remaining week, shifting your orientation from writer to reader. We’ll revise through the lenses we’ve looked through as well as the overarching frame of the workshop: Where in the piece does the writing lead? Where does the writing (not the writer) want to go? You’ll have an opportunity to share with a partner and ask for feedback.
RECEIVING THE ZOOM LINK: For one-day workshops, we send out the link to attend the Zoom session 1 - 2 days before the event, via email. For multi-week workshops, you should receive info and the link about a week before the first meeting. Please mark your calendars and look for our emails. If you don't see the email in your inbox on the day before the event (or a few days before, in the case of multi-week workshops), please check your spam and junk mail folders (and search all folders) for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. We have found that very often our emails end up in those folders. This is based on your own email settings, and you can prevent this by adding our email as a contact.
ONLINE SESSIONS happen remotely, via Zoom video conference. All you need is a laptop, computer, or phone with functioning audio and a webcam. Those who RSVP receive directions and a link to "join" the session via email (please see above note about receiving the Zoom link). All online instructors will log on to the video conference 10 minutes before the start of the session, to help anyone with technical issues, so please plan to log on early if you'd like assistance! We'll do everything in our power to help you get comfortable with this new format, though when the session begins, we will not be able to assist with technical difficulties.
REFUND & CREDIT POLICIES AT PVWW
If you withdraw from a workshop ten days or more before the start of the class: You'll receive full credit toward another workshop OR a full refund. If you withdraw from a workshop nine days before the start of the class up until 48 hours before: You'll receive a refund minus 20%. If you withdraw from a workshop less than 48 hours before the start of a class or after the class has begun: We are not able to offer you credit toward another class or any refund, unless in the case of a medical emergency, or if we are able to fill your spot. If you are absent on the day of your workshop or miss it for any reason, we are unable to offer any kind of refund. If we have to cancel a class for any reason, you will receive a full refund, or if you choose, credit in the amount of your payment, to be used for any future PVWW class. Anyone who does not specify whether they would like a refund or a credit for a cancelled class will automatically be refunded. Please contact Joy (email@example.com) for all matters concerning credit and refunds.