The Heart Remembers: Writing About Loss
with Charlotte Maya
October 18, 2023 | 6 Weeks |
Text and Live Video
This course is for writers who are looking for a safe space in which to write a personal essay on the loss of someone they love, whether through death or divorce or decline, someone who moved away, grew apart, grew up, or maybe even a loss of self.
Though this is a writing course, not a therapy session, all feelings will be honored. All writing levels and backgrounds are welcome. This six-week course will explore the art of personal essay and will include both time to generate new writing and opportunities to give and receive feedback.
Explore the relationships with people who have shaped your experience, even after those people are gone. You are welcome to bring something you’ve been working on or to show up with a blank page and an open mind. Students will receive both written and oral feedback on their essays with suggested resources for further development.
We will work with writing prompts each week. Given the tender nature of this topic, you will be invited but not required to share this fresh writing with the group.
Learning and Writing Goals
In this course, students will:
- Finding your voice and your approach to writing about relationships lost.
- Engaging the process of writing: getting words on the page, keeping words on the page (or not), and rearranging the words on the page.
- Encouraging self-reflection and a willingness to be vulnerable in our writing.
- Creating a supportive writing community.
- Developing constructive feedback for other writers’ work.
In this course, students will:
- Write three personal essays of varying lengths (1500 words, 800 words, 100 words).
- Workshop and revise personal essays.
- Create a list of potential publications for submission.
Wednesdays, October 18, 25, November 1, 8, 15, 22, 6:00—7:30 PM Eastern
Week 1: Honoring Yourself in the Process
Congratulations, you are here. Showing up for your writing is not to be underestimated. We will begin with a discussion of why we write – and read – about loss specifically. You will also collaborate to define the parameters that will help you feel comfortable writing and sharing in this group setting. Please bring a photograph of your lost loved one.
Week 2: Getting Words on the Page
Writing is both a solitary and collaborative effort. We will discuss offering feedback on others’ writing. You will bring a piece of writing to the class and have the opportunity to share with the group. You will also be asked to read carefully and offer thoughtful responses to other writers. We will discuss the impediments to our writing, along with ideas to engage the obstacles to our writing. Please bring an object that reminds you of your lost loved one.
Week 3: Scenework: Senses and Sentences
Many essays begin by drawing the reader right into a scene. Where does your story take place? How does it feel, smell, or sound? How can you translate this place into sentences that keep your reader engaged? We will discuss opening sentences. Please select a song that reminds you of your lost loved one.
Week 4: Remembering
We will discuss the challenges of remembering and slippery nature of memory. What do you write when you can’t remember? How do you address others’ recollections? You will bring a short essay to the class and have the opportunity to share with the group. You will also be asked to read carefully and offer thoughtful responses to other writers. Please bring a favorite food of your lost loved one.
Week 5: Finding the Heartbeat of the Story
Where do you feel the influence of your lost someone most keenly? Bodily? Or when something they used to say comes out of your own mouth? Are there places you visit… or avoid? What is still alive in you that might represent this relationship? We will discuss the surprising truths that come to our writing.
Week 6: To Publish, or Not
You will bring a flash essay to the class and have the opportunity to share with the group. You will also be asked to read carefully and offer thoughtful responses to other writers. We will discuss the merits of writing for a larger audience, as well as the value in keeping our words private.