Monday & Tuesday 7:00 pm EDT - 9:15 pm EDT November 8 to November 9, 2021
Online via Zoom
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear,” Joan Didion once wrote. Indeed, personal essays and identity-based narratives allow us to make sense of our lived experiences. But translating a raw, emotional experience into an essay or story that doesn’t feel like a simple recounting of that experience without any deeper resonance can be challenging.
In this workshop, participants will learn how to create pieces that speak to both the specific and the universal, and how to craft personal experiences into artful, layered pieces. The class will examine the ways in which distinguishing a unique voice can help to establish a platform as a writer and build a writing career. It will also discuss the process of pitching, submitting, and publishing. Writers of varying levels can benefit from this course, whether they are new to the form or they have a substantial publishing record and are seeking to deepen their writing practice.
Zaina Arafat is an LGBTQ Arab-American writer based in Brooklyn. Her debut novel, You Exist Too Much, won a 2021 Lambda Literary Award and was named Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2020. Her essays and articles have appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, VICE, BuzzFeed, Granta, Guernica, the Believer, Harper’s Bazaar, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She holds an MA in international affairs from Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. In recognition of her service through writing to both immigrant and LGBTQ communities, she was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts, and named a Champion of Pride by The Advocate.
By Zaina Arafat
You Exist Too Much
By Zaina Arafat
Published by Catapult
On a hot day in Bethlehem, a 12–year–old Palestinian–American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother’s response only intensifies a sense of shame: “You exist too much,” she tells her daughter.
Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the Middle East—from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine—Zaina Arafat’s debut novel traces her protagonist’s progress from blushing teen to sought–after DJ and aspiring writer. In Brooklyn, she moves into an apartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to content herself with their comfortable relationship. But soon her longings, so closely hidden during her teenage years, explode out into reckless romantic encounters and obsessions with other people. Her desire to thwart her own destructive impulses will eventually lead her to The Ledge, an unconventional treatment center that identifies her affliction as “love addiction.” In this strange, enclosed society she will start to consider the unnerving similarities between her own internal traumas and divisions and those of the places that have formed her.
Opening up the fantasies and desires of one young woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities, You Exist Too Much is a captivating story charting two of our most intense longings—for love, and a place to call home.
About this series
We strive to make our classes the most inviting and rewarding available, offering an intimate environment to study with award-winning, world-class writers. Each class is specially designed by the instructor, so whether you’re a fledgling writer or an MFA graduate polishing your novel, you’ll find a perfect fit here.
Beyond the Tropes: Family Secrets and Burdens in Speculative Fiction with Marc Abbott (Online Only)
3 Monthly Sessions Sundays, 1:00 pm EDT - 2:30 pm EDT October 24 to December 19, 2021
Structuring Your Story: Shaping Fiction with Julia Phillips — Sold Out$395
Once a week Thursdays, 7:30 pm EDT - 9:30 pm EDT October 28 to December 9, 2021
Prose Translation Studio with Daniel Hahn$395
Once a week Thursdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 9:00 pm EDT October 28 to December 9, 2021
KidsWriting Genre Workshops: Fall 2021
Saturday, 11:30 am EDT - 1:00 pm EDT October 30, 2021
Reading Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick with Sheridan Hay (Online Only) — Sold Out
Once a week Wednesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT November 3 to December 22, 2021
Creating Audio Fiction and Nonfiction with C.J. Farley and Ann Heppermann$125
Thursday & Friday 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT November 4 to November 5, 2021
The Craft of the Unputdownable Story: How to Grab a Reader’s Attention and Keep It with Stefan Merrill Block$125
Friday - Sunday 1:00 pm EDT - 2:30 pm EDT November 12 to November 14, 2021
The Hardest Part: Writing Beginnings and Endings with Joe Wilkins$125
Monday & Tuesday 5:00 pm EDT - 7:15 pm EDT November 22 to November 23, 2021