“Getting Undammed” by Paige Hassall: Inprint workshop participants write micro essays after the storm

September 10, 2017, by

260px-Harvey_2017-08-25_2231ZCait Weiss Orcutt teaches Inprint’s Personal Essay Workshop which started on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 6. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, Tupelo Quarterly & more. She is founder of the Writers Guild Community Creative Writing Workshops in Columbus, Ohio, Editorial Advisory Board Member of Mad River’s Slash Prize, and Online Editor of The Journal. A recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship, she is a graduate student at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Here Cait talks about the first workshop gathering.

Cait Weiss Orcutt: This past week, our Personal Essay workshop met for the first time. I had come to class planning to talk craft—what is Creative Non Fiction, for instance, and what (or who) makes “fact” fact? Instead, it quickly became apparent that, while the sky outside was clear and blue, the class was still caught in the storm.

And why shouldn’t they have been? Why should we force ourselves to pretend we’re okay? If writing is about honesty, why lie about what is really weighing down our thoughts, troubling our dreams and hurting our hearts. An enormous, historic disruption occurred—and for many, if not all of us here in Houston and beyond, the recovery effort contains its own disruption, grief and trauma. How can we write anything “personal” without sharing what we’re going through? Continue reading

The personal essay is alive and well

August 4, 2015, by

2_Speaker and audience GOODIt’s a decent crowd at Brazos Bookstore, on a Thursday evening in late July. Wine, beer, and water are on offer, and cheese and crackers. It’s festive, convivial, the usual gracious Brazos atmosphere for a reading—with the exception that we aren’t gathered to listen to a single visiting writer. Instead, unusually, we’re here to listen to each other.

Brazos has graciously agreed to host a group reading by the members of Erika Jo Brown’s Inprint personal essay workshop. They’ve been meeting under Erika’s guidance for two months this summer to think about and experiment with the craft of this varied, extensive form, which (as Erika points out in her course description) can be both “intellectually rigorous and exploratory.” These folks are used to reading to each other, sharing and responding to each other’s work, and considering examples by selected essayists to help them think about such matters as “narrative arc, emotional ‘stakes,’ concretizing details, dialogue, point of view, characterization,” and  more. They’ve been working, three hours a week for eight weeks at Inprint House. Now they’re going to take a big step outside the intimate confines of the workshop and strut their stuff publicly.

You can spot the essayists—they’re the restless ones with papers in their hands. The rest of us—friends, family, and curious others who found the reading on the Brazos schedule—are here to support them and listen to a sample of their work. Continue reading

On Writing Workshops

August 13, 2012, by

Tuesday, August 14th at noon Inprint begins online registration for its Fall 2012 Writers Workshops. All of our writing instructors have been students in a workshop in the past, either at the university level, or in another format. We thought it would be fun to hear what they have to say about writing workshops and why they can be meaningful. Here, Allyn West, who will be teaching a Personal Essay workshop this fall, shares his insights.

Do you want to know the secret to becoming a  writer? The one thing all writers everywhere want to know how to do?

You write.

But—then what? Unless you’re Zadie Smith or Junot Diaz, with major publishing houses clamoring even for your grocery lists, you will have all these pages and nothing to do with them, stumped by your questions about them. Are they any good? And how can I turn them into something—more? Continue reading