Writing About Family
with Rudri Patel
Writing About Family is for essay writers at all writing levels, genres, and backgrounds, who are looking to explore how to write about family relationships. All personal essays require characters, narrative arc, and an understanding of exploring a conflict that clearly conveys what is at stake for the writer and reader. However, writing about family is often complicated. What is the truth and how do we write about it if the relationship is still part of our lives? Where do we draw boundaries when writing about family? And how do you we authentically write about family with ethics and legal ramifications in mind?
This course covers essay fundamentals, and focuses on generating new writing: students will write approximately six essays and have the chance to revise two pieces. In addition to writing a significant amount of new material, students will receive personalized feedback with tailored resources and further readings to help them learn while they write. Students will come away at least one (maybe two polished essays) that will be ready for submission to an essay outlet.
Learning and Writing Goals:
- Generative writing course – Students will write at least two to three essays (and also be able to revise one (maybe more) essays for publication.
- Editor Feedback – Students will receive editor feedback on each piece submitted.
- Peer Feedback – Peers will comment on at least three essays submitted by other students.
- Publication process – Students will receive information and outlets for submission.
- Learn the elements of a personal essay.
- Identify a strong beginning, narrative arc, and satisfactory ending.
- How do you write about relationships that are ongoing?
- What is writing the “truth” as you navigate these relationships?
- What is the ethics of writing about family?
- What are some of the legal implications when writing about family?
- Students will generate 5 – 6 essays, Will have the opportunity to revise two essays.
The course’s weekly Zoom meetings will take place on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM Eastern time. Meetings will be one hour to 90 minutes in length.
Week 1: Introductions/Elements of Personal Essay/Brainstorming Techniques on Writing about Family
In the first week of class, we will have introductions in class and goals on what we wish to accomplish by writing essays about family. We will discuss elements of the personal essay including the fundamentals of beginnings, narrative arc, and endings. We will also discuss brainstorming techniques re: mind mapping, lists, and memories to come up with ideas regarding family essays
Week 2: Creating Characters with Individuals in Your Family Essay
In the second week of class we will explore the following inquiries:
- How do you write about your family members in a way that makes sense for the reader?
- What are some the techniques to create family members on the page?
- How do you develop voice in your essay (especially when you know your family members so intimately)?
Week 3: Exploring Themes: Trauma, Secrets, Culture, and History
In the third week of class we will look closely at how are context of relationships enables are storytelling. We will discuss the following:
- How to write about secrets without making it a confessional/diary entry?
- What are effective ways to deal with trauma as a theme in a personal essay?
- What are elements of culture and history that make compelling stories in a personal essay?
Week 4: Blending the Personal with the Universal
It’s important to realize that in a personal essay. It’s not enough to tell your truth, but to make it a universal for the reader. We will, in the fourth week, explore the following:
- Defining themes that are relatable
- How do we relate personal experiences to universal themes?
- What role does vulnerability play in making a family essay relatable for a reader?
Week 5: Ethics Involved in Writing about Family
In the fifth week we will explore the following inquiries:
- How do you balance telling “your” truth and respecting family members?
- What are the legal ramifications in writing about your family?
- What are ways to reconcile writing about family in ongoing relationships?
Week 6: What’s Next?
In the sixth week, we will discuss how to deal with the impact of telling your truth.
- How do you maintain a relationship with your family members after publication?
- How do you deal with the fear of what you wrote when confronted with family and fear?
- If a family member feels like their privacy is violated, how do effectively set boundaries to preserve your story?
Week 7: Revising the Essay
In the seventh week, we will discuss revision generally and how to decide what you want to keep or omit based on conversations with family members. Should you tell your truth at all costs?
- How do you revise?
- What are practical techniques for revision?
- How do you reconciling telling your truth in your work, and preserving ongoing family relationships?
Week 8: Revising the Essay/Publication Outlets
In the eighth week we will discuss the following:
- What publication outlets are interested in your family essays?
- What is the best way to submit?
- General Q & A about the process
Student Feedback for Rudri Patel:
I cannot recommend working with Rudri enough, she is one of the best writing teachers that I have ever had. Leena Trivedi-Grenier
Rudri is genuine and compassionate, sharing her stories and helping students find a way to hold their grief, and release some of its anchors. I highly suggest Writing Our Grief, so much so, I’m gifting it to a friend. Don’t hesitate. Take this class! Linda Ragsdale
I have participated in several other paid courses over many years and found Rudri’s to be the best value—she is candid and caring, an expert facilitator and exacting editor. I enjoyed and highly recommend her classes. Barbara Chen
The course exceeded my expectations. Rudri’s practical, supportive, and encouraging style is just what I needed to build confidence and practice in my writing. Rudri is exceptionally perceptive, warm, and generous as a teacher. Rudri helps you believe in yourself as a writer and to build long-term habits after the course. Tom O’Shea
Rudri’s workshop as well as her in-depth critiques are invaluable. Dianne Parker
Rudri’s teaching style is warm, personal, informed, generous, and comprehensive. She wants her students to have a safe place to dig into their grief and to give written voice to it, to learn the craft of writing about grief with an eye for publication. She challenged us to experiment with new forms, and set the tone for a supportive class partnership. I highly recommend this class. Dianne King
I recommend Rudri to any writer who is serious about stepping up their writing game. Her honest feedback and commitment to helping her students succeed make her an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their writing skills. Dean Bowman
Rudri created a wonderful workshop atmosphere. I received specific feedback on each of my writing assignments and felt supported and encouraged throughout the six-week course. I’m amazed at how much I learned in this short time period. Theresa Connors
Rudri is a real gem. Her management of the class given the difficulty of the material was exceptional. She was always encouraging to all the students. Larry Ricci
Rudri’s combination of compassion and solid tangible technique furthered my continuing development as a writer. If you want to take an MFA level class with an instructor who cares enough to guide you kindly but sure-footedly to the edges of your comfort zones—then this class is for you. You will come out on the other side a much improved writer. Christina Cavallaro
Rudri is kind so she reads with her heart as well as her head. As well as providing editorial expertise, she reads with empathy. I found this mattered more than I thought it would. I am so thankful for this course and everything I learned in class and from the community of other writers within the class. Sarah Harley
Rudri is intelligent and perceptive. Her lectures are well organized but not rigid. She is present to the individual students’ needs, and her offering of a one-on-one meeting is the cherry on the cake. She is a very generous teacher, and I would and will certainly recommend her courses and take them again myself. Barbara Moroncini
A must take course! Our instructor, Rudri Patel, led the course with such brilliance, commitment and sensitivity. Each lesson was well organized. Ms. Patel went above and beyond with weekly zoom classes, and she added her personal experiences as a writer so freely. Cynthia Slack
Rudri has a way of fostering discussion and motivating her students to produce more and better work. By the end of the first week alone, I’d completely revised my daily writing strategy, reduced procrastination, and felt better equipped to achieve some pretty ambitious writing goals. I’m confident that 2021 will be my best writing year to-date. Jessica Fiorillo
This workshop was everything I wanted and more! Not only is Rudri an excellent instructor and writer, but she is a wonderful human being. Rudri provided a safe place for everyone to freely express themselves, giving 200% of herself and modeling for students her courage and vulnerability. Cynthia Bassett
Awesome! Rudri is a great teacher. Natalie Ellis
This class, and Rudri’s compassion and ability to create a safe space, helped me work through levels of grief that I didn’t realize I still had. I made connections between past and present losses that I hadn’t made before, which has helped me to grieve at a deeper level. My writing has benefited from the exercises and Rudri’s encouragement to write my truth. This was an excellent class, and I hope to work with Rudri again in the future. Andi Reed
I learned so much in Rudri’s class, not just about bullet journaling but about setting goals and establishing habits that nurture and sustain the writing life. Rudri created a welcoming space to discuss not just the ins and outs of bullet journaling, but also how to build habits that nurture creativity and self-care. I highly recommend it for writers and everyone! Daisy Florin
Rudri Bhatt Patel has been a mentor, coach, and editor for my writing projects for almost ten years. Under the skillful guidance of her expertise, candor, and gentle spirit, I have made great gains in refining and expanding my short stories to publication as well as completing a novel. In addition, as co-members of a critique group for several years, Rudri consistently offered in depth and valuable feedback to me and others on a biweekly basis. Her comprehensive written feedback was always delivered with a sensitivity and respect for each person’s creative expression, while authentically providing insight into strengths and areas that needed development. Trish Dolansinski
Rudri is the editor and teacher everyone wishes they would discover. Her warm engaging style meets spot-on feedback has done more for me in 6 weeks than I can begin to describe. Rudri’s approach to giving feedback is supportive in a way that both inspires and lifts while being grounded in solid practical suggestions to help elevate your work. Christina Cavallaro
I recommend Rudri Bhatt Patel without reservation. She is knowledgeable, articulate and experienced in all things writing and publishing. Her kindness as well as her professionalism and expertise make working with her a delight. Susan Pohlman
Rudri’s knowledge and skills related to professional writing have also helped me with my own writing career many times in the past. Julie Vick
Over the past ten years I have had numerous opportunities to interact with Rudri Batt Patel during writing classes, book critiques, and writer networking sessions. She has a profound ability to engage as a learner, presenter, and facilitator. Her own writing skills are exceptional and her variety of published works enable her to assist developing writers in multiple ways. Phyllis Schwartz
Rudri Patel is an organized and seasoned presenter with years of writing and publishing experience. I’ve been lucky enough to have Rudri in my critique circle for over a decade and I’m a stronger writer because of it. Windy Lynn Harris
Rudri has a wonderful way of bringing out the best in her colleagues without criticism – a skill I appreciate as a veteran of the classroom myself. Jenn Morson