Saturday, September 8th and
Sunday, September 9th

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Visiting Writer Intensive
Writing the Personal Sex Essay
with Katherine Standefer

How do we make meaning from our sexual experiences? What do our personal stories have to offer the world, and what is the best way to share them? In this bold, smart, and introspective 10-hour weekend intensive, writers will work towards a personal essay about an aspect of their sexual experience, learning to build strong connective tissue between individual sexual stories and the larger questions about sex that our culture is grappling with.

Day 1: 

  • We'll consider the sex culture we live in, exploring how it affects the way we write (or don't write) sex
  • We'll observe how our sexual experiences fit larger social themes, in the process unlocking a wider range of sexual stories to tell
  • We'll use published writing to examine the way reflection and essaying can help build out narratives about sex
  • We'll think about sex as a problem that drives narrative tension, as well as how sex that's not a problem operates on the page

Day 2: 

  • We'll play with how authority works in our own writing about sex
  • We'll look at how narrative distance changes the way we write about sex, writing and re-writing an experience
  • We'll consider what it looks like to publish sexual work, including facing your mother, re-naming your partners, and seeing a very particular version of yourself head off into the world

On both days, we'll spend lots of time generating new material together. 

Katherine Standefer writes about the body, consent, and medical technology. Her debut book, Lightning Flowers, is forthcoming from Little, Brown & Co. in 2020 and was shortlisted for the 2018 J. Anthony Lukas Works-in-Progress Award by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation.  Her essay "In Praise of Contempt" was awarded the 2015 Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction and appeared in Best American Essays 2016; her essay "Wilderness" was a Notable Selection for Best American Essays 2017, and "Shock to the Heart, Or: A Primer on the Practical Applications of Electricity" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Crazyhorse, The Normal School, Fourth Genre, The Iowa Review, The Colorado Review, LitHub and The Rumpus.

Katherine lives in Tuscon, Arizona and holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of Arizona. For more information, visit


2 sessions
$425 | $385 (m)
w/Katherine Standefer