The Pleasures of the Personal Essay with Dinty W. Moore

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Discover new ideas, fresh forms, and expanded markets for your writing

The personal essay is perhaps the oldest form of nonfiction prose, yet it remains one of the most misunderstood. Thought by some to be antiquated and mouldy, the personal essay is instead a wonderfully flexible and creative form, as alive and inventive as the writer wishes it to be. More than memoir, but able to include elements of one’s own life experience, the personal essay remains an ideal vehicle for satisfying the human urge to not just live year to year, but to capture a bit of our experience, to produce an enduring record of our better thoughts.

Much of what you learned in school—essays must be five paragraphs long, essays must constantly announce their topic, essays must be academic, written in formal, stilted language—is wrong. The essay is not a tedious freight train full of dreary thesis sentences, mind-numbing citations, and predictably stale conclusions: the essay is flexible, fun, and fascinating, formed from sentences that are graceful, wise, and surprising.

What is an essay? Just this: the personal essayist takes a topic—virtually any topic under the big yellow sun—and holds it up to the bright light, turning it this way and that, upside and down, studying every perspective, fault, and reflection, in an artful attempt to perceive something fresh and significant. But it is always an effort, a trial, an assay, not a lecture or diatribe. In the hands of contemporary practitioners such as Rebecca Solnit and Roxane Gay, the personal essay at its best is an idiosyncratic combination of the author’s discrete sensibilities and the endless possibilities of meaning and connection.

In this 75-minute course, noted essayist and editor Dinty W. Moore will guide you through examples of the myriad forms that an essay can take, will survey the infinite range of possible topics, and will leave you with useful prompts to help you determine your own essayistic opportunities.

This course will also cover:

  • How the essay fits into contemporary literary publishing
  • How understanding the flexibility of the essay form can help with “stuckness”
  • The difference between a “private” essay and a “public” essay
  • The role of research (and how it can be more fun than chore)
  • What it means to “write what you don’t know”
  • Examples of the book-length essay
  • How to find the best markets (literary magazines and beyond)

Who should take this class

  • Writers who want to expand their skillsets and opportunities
  • Writers who are looking for new ideas and new topics
  • Writers of memoir who feel “stuck”
  • Writers who wouldn’t mind getting paid every once in a while
  • Curious minds

How do I know if this webinar is worth the cost?

This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend the entire class, and fail to get the information you were looking for. Please email us directly to request a refund.

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording.

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, within an hour you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you registered for the live class but didn’t receive a confirmation email from Zoom, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, June 30, 2021
  • Time: 1 p.m.–2:15 p.m. Eastern Time / 10 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s built-in closed caption service, powered by Otter AI, which is about 80%+ accurate. For students joining the class through the Zoom app on a mobile device, you can disable the closed captions by going to your settings and turning off closed captions.

Dinty Moore

About the instructor

Dinty W. Moore is author of the memoirs Between Panic & Desire, and To Hell With It, the writing guides The Story Cure, Crafting the Personal Essay, and The Mindful Writer, among many other books. He has published essays and stories in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. Moore is founding editor of Brevity, the journal of flash nonfiction and co-editor of The Best of Brevity: Twenty Years of Groundbreaking Flash Nonfiction. He teaches master classes and workshops across the United States as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico.

One of the best webinars I’ve ever participated in. Dinty Moore was delightful, but more to the point, he had a lot of wisdom and knowledge. He opened my mind to a whole different way of thinking of myself.

Katrina Stonoff

Thank you so much for all of this information. I really appreciated the thoroughness of the handouts as well as the timeliness. I am very impressed, so professional! This was interesting and informative.

Gray Boyce

Dinty gave me exactly the words for the issues one of my clients struggles to solve, and validates the instincts that I sometimes struggle to articulate for them. Best of all, his voice, his cadence, just the sound of those words was a lesson itself. Slowly, gently, simply…a real lesson in discipline for someone like me who is at times wildly excited to share.

Pam Sheppard

You’ll receive the following

  • Access to the 75-minute interactive class. After 60 minutes, Dinty will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video with closed captions. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Supplementary handout with tips for finding your topic and your personal hook.
  • A list of available markets, literary and commercial.
  • Helpful writing prompts to get you started with fresh ideas and innovative approaches.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.

System Requirements to Join the Webinar

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in, USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 or higher running Win 8.1 or later
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.