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2018 Summer Writing Retreat - "Exploring the Essay: Building the Essential Foundation for Short and Long Form Nonfiction" with Rachel Starnes

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Stephen F. Austin State University
1936 North St
Nacogdoches, TX 75962

7/29/2018 to 8/3/2018


Please read both the credit card handling fee information and the refund policy at the bottom of this page before purchasing a ticket.


"Exploring the Essay" Class Meeting Times:

Sunday, July 29: Orientation, 6pm
Monday through Friday, July 30-August 3: 9:30am to 3:30pm (one hour break for lunch)


In its verb form, “essay” means “to try.” Though many of us are familiar with it in its academic form—assigned, dry, formulaic—the essay can bend to exciting, creative shapes, opening new windows of opportunity in nonfiction, whether as a stand alone piece or a jumping off point for longer works.

This class will explore personal, lyric, and traditional longform essays with an eye towards exploring the depth and versatility of the form. For those writing book-length nonfiction narratives, the class will be especially helpful as you think about the overall structure of your project (keep in mind that many writers incorporate previously published essays into book chapters.) It's also not uncommon for book projects to get their start in essay form.

In the morning sessions, we will focus on elements of craft and discussions of selected published pieces. Writing exercises tailored to the day’s topics will challenge and inspire students to explore their own narrative voices as well as identify areas of expertise (or, for those writing personal narratives, identify true stories that can be shaped)
 for future essays.

In the afternoon sessions, students may opt in to particopate in an afternoon workshop - an opportunity to receive feedback from the instructor and their peers in a traditional, supportive workshop environment. Students wishing to participate must opt in and submit work by midnight on July 1. (Workshop details and submission guidelines and instructions will be emailed to all class registrants at time of registration; students will read all workshop materials ahead of the class start date and will bring written comments with them). For those students not wishing to participate in the workshop, afternoons can provide the perfect time to read, write, and reflect for the next morning’s class.

Students will come away with a better understanding of various essay forms and how to execute them, how to establish a narrative voice and persona, methods of research, as well as tips for finding the right venue for publication.

This class is appropriate for all nonfiction writers, including those just starting out.


About the Instructor

"Rachel is a wonderful instructor. She is well prepared and extremely generous with her knowledge and insight. I feel that my understanding of writing techniques for memoirs was truly expanded."
-- 2018 Class Attendee

"Generally, I tire from listening to webinar's that last 3 hours, but Rachel was so engaging and presented so much useful material that I could have listened to her for 3 more hours!"
--2018 Online Class Attendee


Rachel Starnes is the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir The War at Home: A Wife's Search for Peace and Other Missions Impossible. She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from California State University, Fresno and her BA from the University of Texas. Her essays have appeared in The Colorado Review, Front Porch Journal, and O Magazine. Born in Austin, Texas, she has lived in Scotland, Texas, Saudi Arabia, Florida, California, and Nevada, and is currently on the move again with her husband, two sons, and a puppy.


(Note: All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee - this fee can be avoided by mailing in a check for registration with a form. Click HERE for the form to mail with your check.)


(Please read this refund policy closely before registering for the 2018 Summer Writing Retreat; no exceptions will be made):

Through May 15, 2018: 100% refund available.
May 16 - June 21, 2018: 50% refund available.

All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation fee.

After June 21, 2018: No refunds will be made, but registrants can transfer their registration to another person as long as advance notice is given to the Writers' League of Texas. If you wish to transfer your registration, please call the WLT at 512-499-8914.