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In Praise of The Nouns That Give Us Hope

Online Manuscript Workshop with Pam Houston

June 10 -14, 2020 | 2:00pm - 5:00pm PDT over Zoom

Cost: $850 (limited to12 participants)

If we are to make it through these harrowing times, it will be with the strength and beauty of our individual stories. It will be in our ability to love the specific physical stuff of our lives. Our dogs, our partners, our favorite chicken green chili stew, the books we hold dearest, our pasts, and how they have made us strong enough to weather the storm. This workshop will look at the short stories, novel chapters, memoir chapters, personal essays of its twelve participants. When we come together we will talk about each piece. We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of writing: the translation of the emotional stakes of the story onto its physical landscape. Using the workshop stories, and some outside reading, we will work toward demystifying some of the essential components of fiction and creative nonfiction (image, metaphor, structure, dialogue, character, scene, among others) and turning them into comprehensible tools that are at our disposal. At the same time we will honor the (sometimes) inexplicable flights of imagination and/or lyricism that take a good story and make it great. Another thing we will talk about is the ever expanding grey area that exists between fiction and nonfiction: the fictionalized memoir, the autobiographical novel, the lyric personal narrative, and how we might go about deciding what genre best suits a particular body of work.  In preparation for this class, please do your best to read A Manual For Cleaning Women, By Lucia Berlin, and The Narrow Door by Paul Lisicky. Manuscripts for critique are limited to 5000 words and will be due by May 20th.

Pam Houston is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, as well as two novels, Contents May Have Shifted and Sight Hound, two collections of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton. Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Short Stories of the Century among other anthologies. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA Award for contemporary fiction, the Evil Companions Literary Award and several teaching awards.  She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, which puts on between seven and ten writers gatherings per year in places as diverse as Boulder, Colorado, Tomales Bay, California and Chamonix, France. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book of letters between Pam and environmental activist Amy Irvine will be published by Torrey House Press in October of 2020.

Application Details

Acceptance to the workshop is based upon review of a writing sample (10 pages of fiction or nonfiction/personal essay). Writing samples must be double spaced, using a size 12 Times New Roman or similar font. Your writing sample does NOT have to be the manuscript you want to workshop.

An application fee of $25 is required. If you are accepted to the workshop, your application fee of $25 will be applied to your tuition.If you are not accepted to the workshop, we will refund your $25. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once you apply you will receive an immediate email confirmation of your application.Sometimes these go into your junk or bulk mail folder. If this happens, please add to your safe senders list to make sure you get our acceptance notification! If you are accepted, you will be notified via email and asked to confirm your intention to attend within two weeks by enrolling and submitting your payment of $850. 

Online Workshop Details and Cancellation Policy: This workshop will be offered online over Zoom. Manuscripts for critique are limited to 5000 words and will be due by May 20th. If you cancel by May 15, 2020, your tuition will be refunded minus a $150 cancellation fee. Refunds for cancellations made after May 15th are contingent upon filling your place and will be made only if your place is filled. In the unlikely event that we must cancel a workshop and you do not wish to transfer to another workshop, you will receive a full refund.

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