“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners,” wrote Virginia Woolf. With the year we’ve just survived, it makes sense to turn to fiction, whether to find shelter, to explore alternative realms, or to give voice to premonitions. But even as we turn to fiction, fiction reflects our world back, clearer than ever, to us.
This fiction writing workshop will focus on the stranger stories—the stories that seem only tentatively connected to “real life” yet somehow eviscerate us in their clarity. We’ll be reading widely (and wildly) in this class, looking at stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Carmen Maria Machado, Stephen O’Connor, Miranda July, Ottessa Moshfegh, Jonathan Lethem, and Kristen Roupenian, among others. In every discussion, we will ask ourselves, what is it we, as writers, can learn here? What can we borrow? What assumptions or conventions can we tear down and rebuild? Which do we know we want to keep?
Generative prompts, peer workshops, and craft discussions will form the core of this 8-week class. This course is geared towards writers prepared to share a 10-to-20-page short story within two weeks of the course’s start date, but if you’re still staring down the blank page, don’t worry; we’ll be sure to make time to write and collaborate on ideas in class. Both returning writers and brand new workshoppers are invited to join as well as anyone writing fiction for the first time. Together, we will go over Creative Writing workshop best practices, publication pathways, and feedback guidelines in this class.
Prepare to feel surprised but also seen, to explore the upside-down universes these strange stories unfurl, and to build and step into a very weird world of your own.
Cait Weiss Orcutt’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, and others. Her manuscript VALLEYSPEAK (Zone 3, 2017) won Zone 3 Press’ 2016 First Book Award, judged by Douglas Kearney. Cait has an MFA from The Ohio State and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Poetry at the University of Houston.