Week 2 Lesson

While we all have unique and interesting stories to tell, unless they have a universal appeal, they are not going to be interesting to everyone. Readers want to imagine themselves in the experiences that they read about, no matter how exotic. And when we write, we have to write with as total honesty as possible – the honesty of your experience is what draws writers to reading creative non-fiction



Reading Assignments





Consider after Reading

Insomnia is something we all experience, at least from time to time. Why does Zeitlin entitle her article “Sleepless in Any City: Insomnia in Lorca’s Madrid”? It seems like an oxymoron to say any city and then name the city.

Zeitlin is telling us that this can happen (and does happen) everywhere to anyone, but her experience (grounding us in the here and now of her situation) is happening in Madrid where she has to talk to this unsmiling professor and she’s nervous. She has to talk about Lorca and she relates to him because he wrote about insomnia in New York, where she has also lived. She draws parallels from his life to her own, meanwhile telling a concrete story set in a specific time and place.

Is she writing like a mother-fucker, as Cheryl Strayed would have it? She is using her painful experience (insomnia, being away from loved ones, loneliness) to give us a universal experience. Just as she identified with Lorca, someone might identify with her.



Writing Assignment

Look back to when you were a younger adult and experienced pain of some sort and a piece of literature or a song or artwork spoke to you. Tell your story, relating it to something like Zeitlin does, but also telling a concrete story at the same time. Let me know if you are having difficulty finding a way to do this and I can give you some ideas. 


Guidelines, Submissions & Formatting

  • Due Date: Sunday, 6 pm.
  • Submission Link: Submit to the below forum.
  • Submission Format: Attach an MS Word document in Universal Manuscript Format with the following format (this format is firm and universal). Double-spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, 1 in margins, heading with name, address, email, website (if applicable), and phone number on page one. Page two and forward should have in the top right corner your last name and page number. 
  • Word Count: 1000 words or less (this is firm)
  • First Draft: As you write the first draft, let your creativity go where it needs to go. First drafts are meant to be messy and creatively uninhibited. After writing the first draft, lay it to the side for at least a day before revising.
  • Second Draft: Read through again, and revise for language and lyricism. Consider, during this revision, how the two characters interact and what that might mean in a sociopolitical and/or human relationship way. How do they foil each other? Flesh out any sections that might further reflect this sociopolitical undercurrent of the work but be careful  not to make this undercurrent too obvious. Let the reader have room to work this out for him or herself. Remember, we don’t answer questions for our readers, we simply prompt our readers to ask good questions. Giving our readers room to make meaning for themselves within our narratives is a sign of artistic and literary excellence. Now, lay the work aside for at least a day before your next revision.
  • Third Draft: Now read this revision aloud as you record yourself. Upon listening to your recording, consider any language issues in your revision. You might also ask a trusted reader to read the manuscript aloud to you as you sit with your own copy and make revisions. Hearing our language aloud is one of the quickest and surest ways to improve pacing, tone, and cadence.
  • Submissions to the Instructor: The last week of class, you will choose one favorite piece from the works you’ve created in this course for submission. You will be given the chance to flesh it out and make it longer. 
  • Please make sure to contact me directly with any questions regarding assignments and technology. 



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Thank you for trusting us with your words. Please consider taking another workshop with us and spreading the word… 

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