Founded in 2012, Heightening Stories is a series of community-based creative writing workshops, focusing on social issues as well as the craft of writing. Courses are held online and in Jackson Heights, Queens. Blended fiction and nonfiction classes are taught by acclaimed author and award-winning writing instructor Nancy Agabian.
Three workshops are offered: Jumpstart Your Writing (online), and Personal Prose and The Diversity Writing Project (in Jackson Heights, Queens). Details below.
To register or for more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jumpstart Your Writing
8 Sunday evenings, 7:00 — 8:30 pm EDT
April 23 — June 18 (with a break May 28 for Memorial Day)
Limited to 8 members
This online workshop will give you exercises, feedback and community to develop your creative process, whether you’d like to begin a new project, continue your work with a fresh eye, or delve back into a project you’ve spent time away from. Geared for prose writers drawing from life experiences, weekly readings and exercises of both fiction and nonfiction will be assigned during the week. Members will then post responses to exercises in order to get feedback from Nancy and the other participants. We’ll meet through videoconferencing to discuss writing process issues and to report on our progress. Content of readings – short stories, memoir and personal essays – will cover issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, health, etc. Writing topics will cover detail, dialogue, character, point of view, setting, plot and structure. We’ll write together, too, with the help of short prompts. Revisions will be built into our schedule depending on the needs and progress of the group. Past culminating projects have included readings and submissions to literary journals.
To apply: please email email@example.com three paragraphs that 1) explain your experience in contributing positively to a community or group (writing or otherwise) and what you could offer to be a successful member of this workshop and 2) describe your writing goals, the writing you would like to do with this group and how you think this particular writing workshop could help you. Please also 3) discuss the device you will be using and its eligibility requirements: up-to-date Adobe Flash Player and web camera. Attach a 3-5 double-spaced page sample of writing.
New student application deadline: April 19
Register by April 15: $400
Register after April 15: $425
Nancy created a safe space in which I could manage my blocks and fears more effectively and concentrate on writing. Her carefully written and incisive feedback was indispensable. In her “Jumpstart Your Writing” class, she went above and beyond to ensure that everyone has a voice and a stake in the direction of the class, and that our voices were heard. I have never encountered a better writing teacher than Nancy.
(On hiatus Spring 2017)
For writers of all levels working on individual short stories and essays or fiction/nonfiction book-length projects, this ongoing community-oriented group encourages members to write in a way that is both bravely personal and socially conscious. Held in a supportive environment in the instructor’s home, the weekly sessions include discussions of exemplary contemporary fiction and nonfiction, craft exercises to help you develop material and learn writing techniques, and constructive group feedback sessions. Content and craft are fused in an innovative set of lessons that are adjusted to the interests and needs of the group; content topics have included writing on race, class, gender, sexuality and their intersections; cross cultural & queer experiences; the immigrant experience; war and occupation; food writing; and health, wellness and the body. Readings may include stories, chapter excerpts or full books, as well as attendance to one or two public readings relating to the topics we will be exploring. By the end of the session, you will have completed or revised up to twenty pages of writing (one long piece or a few short essays, stories or chapters) that will be ready to publish.
To apply: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org two paragraphs that 1) explain your experience in contributing positively to a community or group (writing or otherwise) and what you could offer to be a successful member of this workshop and 2) describe your writing goals, the writing you would like to do with this group and how you think this particular writing workshop could help you. Attach a double-spaced 5 – 10 page sample of writing.
New student application deadline:
Register by deadline: $475
Register after deadline: $500
(Sliding scale and payment plans available; please inquire by email before applying at email@example.com.)
I have taken Nancy’s writing workshop for a year. The supportive and caring environment she has created in the workshops, and the small size, made me feel comfortable enough to share even deeply personal pieces. As a result of the workshops and the level of care Nancy gave to my writing and encouraged the participants to pay to other students’ writing, I have greatly improved my writing. Because of her workshop, I was able to fine tune a piece for submission to an MFA program and was admitted to two programs in the NYC metro area. I also was able to begin reading my work publicly, with her encouragement and support – something I never had the courage to do before. I cannot recommend Nancy or her workshop enough. It has truly been life changing for me.
— Jennifer Coon
The Diversity Writing Project
in Jackson Heights, Queens
Limited to 8 members
This workshop provides a forum to develop and polish work specifically about issues of identity relating to race, culture, and ethnicity using the framework of literary journal and magazine submissions as a timeline. Each week will be dedicated to a step towards publishing your work: setting goals, researching venues, reading in depth, refining your pitch/submission list, and crafting pitches & cover letters. Also, we’ll read and discuss a recent excerpt from a journal or magazine that connects to content issues we are exploring, such as immigration, assimilation, repatriation, internalized oppression & privilege, historical legacies and losses, language & translation, mixed-race & cross-cultural identities, intersections with class & gender, etc.; writing prompts based on a related craft issue will help to develop new work. This will also be a critique workshop, with members bringing in the pieces they want to publish and receiving facilitated feedback from the group along with suggestions on where to publish. The final week will be a submission session party, when members will bring in their laptops and submit their work to their chosen publications online. For new, intermediate and advanced writers of fiction and nonfiction, the workshop will be a space to share resources and to support each other to develop and prepare work for publication. Whether you want to find community with people who write about issues related to racial, ethnic and cultural identity, prepare this work and get it published, and/or simply learn the steps for publication for the future, this workshop is for you.
To apply, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that details 1) how your work or writing interests relate to issues of race, ethnicity or cultural identity, 2) why you want to take the workshop, including your goals and your experiences working with others in community. Attach a double-spaced 5 – 10 page sample of writing. The application process is intended to 1) ensure that the members have a range of diverse experiences to help each other and 2) help each member to focus on their goals, assets and interests as they enter the workshop.
Note: This workshop is open to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin. Structured around an anti-racist framework, the workshop will collectively support more writing by people of color to be published. Those of all racial backgrounds, who write about race, ethnicity, or cultural identity, will be supported in writing and publishing work that contributes to undoing racism against people of color.
(Sliding scale and payment plans available: please inquire by email before applying to email@example.com.)
Nancy’s instruction and workshop have played an invaluably instrumental role in my continued quest to fully realize and acknowledge my existence as a writer in this world. I definitely did not expect a dining room to become a writing home for me in NYC, with the other writers becoming family. I not only leave her workshops every Saturday with further direction for my writing, but I also leave with the reaffirmation from her and our community that writing is what I, and they, are meant to do.
As a writer I had an idea and a character dancing in my head. Nancy’s workshop helped me get the story on the page. The class was the perfect blend of writing prompts, craft, critique, and practical advice on publishing, and by the last session, I was ready to hit submit.
Nancy Agabian is the author of two acclaimed books and an award-winning teacher with 20 years of experience working in community. She also teaches creative writing at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU. Heightening Stories was a finalist in the Queens Economic Development Corporation’s 2015 Start Up Business Plan Competition. For more info, check her Bio page.
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