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3-Month ONLINE Personal Essay Mentorship: Developing Your Voice, Starts February 1st, 2021
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3-Month ONLINE Personal Essay Mentorship: Developing Your Voice, Starts February 1st, 2021

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Mentorship Starts February 1st, 2021

Click HERE to Apply.

Apply by January 25th, 2021

Led by Courtney Cook, author of the illustrated memoir THE WAY SHE FEELS, to be published by Tin House Books on June 29, 2021. Read a selection of Courtney’s work online at Split Lip Magazine, The Rumpus, Lunch Ticket, Hobart, and other publications, which can be found on her website.

The ideal applicant for Courtney’s 3-month mentorship has a deep desire to explore and experiment in their own work. They are willing to push the boundaries of what they believe constitutes a personal essay and are excited by the idea of writing in non-traditional formats, including illustrations to accompany their essays, or integrating other media into their work, if they so desire. They may be at any stage of their writing journey, and should come prepared with a number of preliminary topics, themes, or experiences they wish to pursue on the page. Applicants must be willing to receive critique alongside praise and be prepared to tackle revision at both the micro and macro-level.

Courtney’s forthcoming memoir opens with an essay written in a series of lists that are accompanied by illustrated renditions of telling tweets she’s posted, screengrabs from the app she uses to track her fluctuating moods, and a photograph from her childhood. Later in the book, she writes an essay entirely composed of apologies, and contemplates the origin of an obsession of hers via graphic narrative. These structurally experimental works are juxtaposed alongside traditional personal essays, which exist together to create a collaged look into Courtney’s experience living with borderline personality disorder.

In a day and age where one’s lived experience is fragmented, with slivers taking place on Instagram, Zoom, or elsewhere online, and others in the tangible world of the office, a 350-square-foot studio apartment, or the snack aisle of CVS, Courtney believes that essays, like ourselves, shouldn’t be bound to a single method or style of communication.

In this three-month mentorship, Courtney will work with students to determine what form an essay should embody to best share and convey its content. Whether a piece necessitates a traditional narrative structure, a braided format, including a number of embedded YouTube videos, or a highly-encouraged online scavenger hunt, Courtney is excited to see and explore the many ways an essay can captivate a reader.

This mentorship is meant to inspire, excite, and motivate, and hopes to help students break free of the notions of what essays “must” or “should” be or look like. Keeping the craft elements that are crucial to a successful work of nonfiction at the forefront of her teachings, Courtney will guide writers utilizing lessons from Creative Composition written by Eileen Pollack, Jeremiah Chamberlin, and Natalie Bakopoulos, a text that has been crucial to her own writing practice, to help strengthen her students’ understanding of craft techniques and assist them in how to best implement said techniques into their work. Additionally, Courtney will recommend essays, essay collections, books, and craft articles tailored to each writer’s needs and interests, and provide written and verbal feedback on student work that will consist of both critique and praise.

Students may choose how to structure their mentorship experience, with the options of:

  1. Focusing on a single essay over the course of the three-months with the intention of leaving the mentorship with a polished work ready to submit for publication
  2. Splitting the three-months into two sections, with the intention of leaving the mentorship with two essays that have each gone through multiple revisions
  3. Focusing on a new essay each month, with the intention of leaving the mentorship with three essays that have each gone through a single revision and the knowledge of how to continue the revision process

Students will submit up to twenty pages of writing every two weeks for direct feedback, which will be discussed during bi-weekly meetings that will take place over the phone. Courtney is available to discuss any roadblocks that may pop up between scheduled meetings over text or email, or a call if necessary. After the meetings, Courtney will recommend texts and resources according to individual student needs. At the end of each month, students will share a process letter of 1-2 pages in length that details their successes and areas of concern they’d like to address going forward, which Courtney will use to structure her instruction in the coming month.

Mentor’s Monthly Input:

  • Two one-on-one meetings between mentor and mentee
  • In-line comments and critique letter on submitted essay(s)
  • Recommended readings tailored to student need and interest
  • Availability over email and phone to provide guidance, encouragement, or answer questions

The 3-Month Mentorship Entails:

  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Bi-weekly meetings
  • Accountability
  • Access to mentor via email or phone for the duration of the mentorship
  • Critique of essays, including line-edits as well as general feedback on structure, arc, etc.
  • Personalized readings and assignments based on specific development needs

Mentee’s Monthly Responsibilities:

  • Participate in two one-on-one meeting
  • Send pages to mentor based on individual goals negotiated with mentor
  • Composing a process-reflection letter detailing the months achievements and challenges
  • Read assigned texts mentor recommends to aid in growth
  • Participate in two monthly one-on-one sessions with mentor to review individual progress and areas of growth and change.

Tuition Payment:

Full Tuition for the 3-month program is $1,900. Accepted writers must commit to the full three months and meet all assigned deadlines. You can pay the tuition in full or opt for equal monthly payments by selecting Affirm at checkout. If you decide to create a monthly payment plan using Affirm, you can do so once you add "Full Tuition" to your cart, enter your contact information, and are on the payment page.

Additional Program Information:

  • Tuition is $1,900

  • Class size limited to 10 writers

  • Program Starts February 1, 2021

  • The Mentorship is fully online and students may participate from anywhere.

  • NOTE: Shifting some dates around may be necessary but any changes will be communicated well in advance, if possible.  

Contact us HERE if you have any questions about this program.

Mentor Courtney Cook
is a writer, illustrator, teacher, and lover of naps. Courtney attended University of Michigan during her undergraduate career, studying creative writing & literature, and art & design, and recently graduated from the University of California, Riverside, with her MFA in creative nonfiction. Courtney’s first book, titled THE WAY SHE FEELS, is forthcoming from Tin House in Summer 2021. She has been published in The Rumpus, Hobart Pulp, Empty Mirror, Entropy Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Literary Orphans, Wax Nine, Luna Luna Magazine, Maudlin House, and Split Lip Magazine. Courtney is founder of new literary magazine focused on radical self-acceptance, On Loan From the Cosmos. Though she is located in San Francisco, California, she hails from the suburbs of Chicago, and considers herself forever a part of the Midwest. 


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