Not in Your Head But Your Bones: Writing the Personal Essay

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Not in Your Head But Your Bones: Writing the Personal Essay

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This workshop focuses on the personal essay and its importance in our world. We’ll start with the gut—what do you need to tell, the memories and questions that live not in your head but your bones—and then move to craft—how to tell our own stories in ways that are equally urgent to an audience.

Pulling from both literary and oral storytelling traditions, we’ll engage in a series of activities to get our stories out of the body and onto the page, encouraging risk and discovery and examining literary craft in new ways. How does telling a story aloud heighten our understanding of its movement and structure? How does the presence of an immediate audience influence the rewriting process? What the hell do we do with these things once they’re written, and how do we keep the writing going?

All are welcome, regardless of experience or genre.


  • Instructor: Megan Stielstra
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Saturday, Jan. 27
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville
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About the Instructor:

Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections: The Wrong Way To Save Your LifeOnce I Was Cool, and Everyone Remain Calm. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Guernica, Catapult, Lit Hub, Buzzfeed Reader, PANK, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, Radio National Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, the Neo-Futurarium, and regularly with The Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill. She is currently an artist in residence at Northwestern University.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, their kid, and Mojo the dog.