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the Visceral self

Writing Through the body

 January 3 - january 24, wednesday evenings

The word visceral means “relating to the viscera,” also known as your internal organs. Another meaning is “relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.” We all have bodies, and when we write through them, we can access the stories that have been living inside us all along. Writing through the body also brings our work more fully to life on the page, gives it a stronger pulse, more breath and electricity.

Join us as we inhabit ourselves on the page. The Visceral Self is a 4-week remote class open to writers of all genres. In this course, we will follow visceral writing techniques wherever they lead us, including the Big Ones: sex, birth, illness, trauma, pain, recovery, etc. We’ll spend time collectively contemplating the specificities of our bodies and the history embedded in them.

Let’s read gut-punching, cheek-stroking, heart-clenching, jaw-dropping published work. Let’s identify the writing techniques and devices that bring the body alive on the page, then try them out ourselves. Aided by craft-focused readings and generative writing prompts, we’ll delve into the ways visceral, embodied writing can link personal experience to the wider world.

Elephant Rock does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of age, color of skin, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, or anything else. We expect the same from our all of our participants.

how does this remote class work?

We gather online for four consecutive Wednesdays (6:00 - 8 PM CT). Class meetings include lively discussions of thoughtfully selected readings by masters of the body (think Maggie Nelson, Roxane Gay, Tony Judt, Nick Flynn, Dorothy Allison, and more) meant to serve as striking incarnations of the themes and techniques of visceral writing. We'll use sensory exercises to tap into the language of the body, and channel it into words. We'll have structured discussions of readings as well as student work. Additional resources include a dedicated Elephant Rock portal for accessing essential class materials, one-on-one interaction with and feedback from course instructors, and a private Facebook community page for ongoing interaction outside class.

what will writers take away?

  • 3 micro essays (seedlings or vignettes to further develop) 

  • Access to engaged mentors and a supportive community of fellow writers

  • Deep knowledge of the techniques and devices that make written bodies feel real

  • A rich resource list to guide further explorations

  • Thoughtful feedback on the work you choose to share

  • More confidence to channel the stories only you (and your body) can tell

What is the Cost?

Tuition is $329, and a non-refundable deposit of $160 is required (via check or PayPal) to hold your spot. Full payment is due 15 days before the workshop begins.

Who are the teachers?

This course is led by Jeannine Ouellette and Sophie Ouellette-Howitz. Jeannine holds an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches writing through the Association of Writers & Writing Program's Writer-to-Writer Program as well as through the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop. She also serves as guest lecturer on writing at the University of Minnesota. Jeannine is the author of several nonfiction books as well as the children's book Mama Moon and her essays and fiction have appeared widely in magazines and literary journals. Jeannine is the founder of Elephant Rock; read her full bio here. Sophie is a writer and editor whose work spans a variety of genres, including health and wellness writing, lyric essays, and short stories. She also works one-on-one with fiction and nonfiction writers to tighten up plot, finesse character development, and improve a manuscript's marketability. She has ghostwritten/shepherded into existence five books, including Three Loves: An Unconventional Love Triangle, an Indie Excellence Award and International Book Awards finalist.

What have others had to say about elephant rock workshops?

A participant in one of a previous Elephant Rock remote class, The Art of the Fractured, had this to say: “The Art of the Fractured" class is one of the best I have ever taken, and that’s saying a lot given that I have taken many dozens over the past three decades." Read more love letters here. 

How Do I Register?

Make your deposit via check (elephantrockretreats@gmail.com for instructions) or PayPal. If you have questions, please let us know! Class size is limited and workshops tend to fill quickly. We hope to write with you.

course materials

This password-protected page (link coming soon!) includes the course syllabus, reading list, and additional resources for registered participants only.