Inspiration and guidance is revealed through the primary source materials of your life.

There are no available registration dates at this time.

NOTE: This class will be held in a live, online format using the Zoom platform
Class meets 10am-5pm ET Weekend 1, individually scheduled one-hour meetings Weekend 2, and 10am-5pm Saturday of Weekend 3 (Full Schedule Below)

Image Credit: Anita Verna Crofts

Translating lived experiences to the page is much more than simply transcribing memories. Writing first-person essays or a memoir asks an author to become a keen and careful observer. The primary source materials of a life– sketchbooks, recipes, a wooden spoon, favorite sweater, journals, saved ticket stubs, a coffee mug, other ephemera– all contribute clues and inspiration for crafting prose. These personal artifacts can act as a welcome catalyst for considering the story of oneself.

Each student will select an object or objects to use as writing prompts during this three-weekend workshop, as exercises will revolve around these chosen items. Substantial parts of the first weekend are reserved for writing, as nothing takes the place of sustained time and focus to transform thoughts to written words. Peer and instructor feedback is also a central component of the course, as work improves immeasurably with the help of the collective. Therefore, one-on-one feedback sessions scheduled individually the second weekend will augment the group feedback the first and third weekends. 

For our online format, we will gather the first weekend both mornings at 10:00am ET in our Zoom classroom, and there will be morning programming, followed by independent writing segments for two hours leading up to lunch hour at 12:30pm (both writing and lunch are offline). We’ll then return to our Zoom classroom for sharing and peer feedback at 1:00pm, followed by another shorter round of offline writing that builds off the feedback, and closing back in our Zoom classroom with a few examples of personal essays that build off personal objects. Both days will finish by 5:00pm.

The following weekend, all students will have the option to set up one-on-one feedback sessions with Anita, in order to provide continued motivation, momentum, and lift to your writing project. Finally, a final Saturday in the third weekend will be devoted to returning to the Zoom classroom to continue to share and refine work. This format of three weekends is intended to allow participants a more sustained engagement with their pieces, and to deepen the connection across the writing cohort.

Peppered throughout the workshop will be moderated discussions on the relationship between humans and everyday objects, from the Japanese concept of tsukumogami (household objects with souls), to the collection Worn Stories by Emily Spivack.

Students at all stages of the writing process are encouraged to enroll. The course can benefit everyone from those with publication ambitions, to those interested in committing stories down in writing for posterity, or those fascinated by our connection to inanimate objects, and all in between.

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Instructor: Anita Verna Crofts

Anita Verna Crofts is on faculty at the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Her 2016 memoir published by Chin Music Press, Meet Me at the Bamboo Table, showcased a combination of prose, illustration, and photography. Anita teaches about the interplay of culture, identity, and communication and is the 2021-22 Artist in Residence for the Communication Leadership graduate program, where she offers courses on storytelling, creativity, and the relationship between personal narrative and leadership. Her classrooms are designed to be collaborative spaces that provide substantial time for individual reflection and skill sharpening. Anita’s writings on food and identity have been published in Gastronomica, Saveur, Seattle Met, and Comestible, with a particular emphasis on the preservation of foodways in post-conflict societies as a means of preserving community identity. Her work appears in the four-volume set, Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Anita is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow, Thomas J. Watson Research Fellow, and serves as a judge for the James Beard Foundation book awards.