Unusual times call for unusual forms. In this ten-week workshop-based fully online course, we will delve deep into the rare and quixotic Mid-Length Essay, a surprisingly expansive form that affords us the breadth we need to explore a topic alongside the brevity we crave when taking risks with content, style and form. (“Essayer” in French means “to try,” after all.) This is a course as open to traditionalists as it is to iconoclasts. The main point of our workshops will be to open ourselves up to all the Mid-Length Essay has to offer while crafting and perfecting our own work. Generative prompts, targeted writing exercises and our essays-in-progress will form the core of this class, but we will also complement our writing by reading widely. Expect to encounter the conversation-provoking and creativity-sparking work of Michel de Montagne, Samantha Irby, James Baldwin, Hanif Abdurraqib, Eve Babitz, David Sedaris, among others, along with an array of critical insights (“craft essays”) to help us articulate how these pieces (and our own) are working. This course is geared towards writers prepared to share a 5-10 page Creative Non Fiction Essay within four weeks of the course’s start date. (I will help you get there if you’re still staring down the blank page.) Both published authors and first time workshoppers are invited to join, as we will also go over Creative Non Fiction workshop best practices, genre conceptions and feedback guidelines in this class. “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself,” wrote Albert Camus. Why not spend this strange time making something meaningful in the (virtual) company of writers?
CAIT WEISS ORCUTT’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, The Academy of American Poets and more. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets and Best of the Net, and her manuscript VALLEYSPEAK (Zone 3, 2017) won Zone 3 Press’ First Book Award, judged by Douglas Kearney. Cait has an MFA from The Ohio State and is currently getting her Ph.D. in Poetry from the University of Houston while working on a Creative Non Fiction side project. She teaches creative writing at UH, Grackle and Grackle, Inprint, WITS, the Salvation Army, the Menil Collection, and the Jewish Community Center. She is the recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship.