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8-Week Introduction to Personal Essay, starts August 16, 2020
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8-Week Introduction to Personal Essay, starts August 16, 2020

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Class Begins Sunday, August 16, 2020


Once you know some of the basic techniques for writing nonfiction, the next step is to discover a style that’s unique. Roxane Gay is known for her blunt, matter-of-fact tone; Mary Roach for her humorous footnotes and exhaustive research. How will readers one day describe your own unique approach? In this course we will read selections from Brief Encounters, edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney, in order to explore the hallmarks of each author’s voice. We will also consult selected essays from the instructional collection Writing Creative Nonfiction, edited by Carolyn Forche and Philip Gerard, which will guide our weekly discussions of the ways in which form, subject matter, tone, and technique all work to shape a writer’s characteristic style.

Each week, we will talk about the assigned readings, participate in writing exercises, and—most importantly—discuss each other’s work. Students will have two opportunities to have their work critiqued (up to 15 pages each time), and they will receive feedback from the instructor as well as their classmates. In addition to providing written feedback, students will also be expected to adhere to respectful and open-minded workshopping standards. This class is open to students with mixed levels of experience; both beginners and experienced writers are welcome to enroll.

NOTE: Students are required to purchase a copy of Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney and Writing Creative Nonfiction: Instruction and Insights from the Teachers of the Associated            Writing Programs, edited by Carolyn Forche and Philip Gerard.

  • Class size limited to 9 writers

  • Meets Sundays 6:30PM to 8:30PM / August 16, 2020 to October 4, 2020

  • Class meets ONLINE via Zoom

Contact us HERE if you have questions about this class.

Instructor Mag Gabbert holds a PhD in creative writing from Texas Tech University and an MFA from UC Riverside. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, 32 Poems, Stirring, Carve Magazine, Thrush, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other national and international journals and magazines. Mag teaches creative writing at Southern Methodist University.

Student Testimonials

"I highly recommend these classes. I just completed the Personal Essay course with Mag Gabbert and it was great."

“I have taken two Personal Essay classes and the Publishing Seminar with Mag Gabbert and they have all been invaluable. As a published writer, Mag knows the ins and outs of the publishing world and what it takes to get a piece accepted by a literary journal. She edits your work thoroughly and gives feedback that will makes your essay stronger. I also appreciate that she looks for ‘what works’ in everyone's essays, no matter how accomplished or amateur a writer may be.”

“Mag is better than any writing teacher I had while getting my Master's degree. Her edits/suggestions are generous, insightful, and the most helpful I have received. (I have taken writing classes from two other organizations outside of graduate school.) I will probably be taking a third class with Mag in the fall.”

“I enjoyed the class a lot and found Mag’s insight and peer critiques to be invaluable in my growth as a writer.”

"Enrolling in Mag Gabbert's Non-Fiction Essay class was one of the best things I have ever done to further my skills as a writer. Our group developed a kinship that encouraged one another, gave honest feedback during our workshops and we were all truly sad to see the 8 weeks come to an end. Mag was amazing at introducing us to new ideas, pieces, essays, and books while showing us various skills, styles, and nuances of the writer's we studied. I look forward to much better writing as a result of this very positive experience."

“I really enjoyed the class! The workload was challenging, but manageable. Mag is an excellent instructor. I really appreciated her insights and expertise.”

“I took the Personal Essay Workshop with Mag Gabbert and learned SO MUCH! I had no idea how much craft is involved in writing a good essay! I really appreciate the time and effort Mag put into critiquing my essay, and learned a lot from critiquing my peers' essays, as well. I'm taking Mag's poetry class in August. Can't wait!”

"Last year I became acquainted with Writing Workshops Dallas and started taking some of the classes they offered. My knowledge and skills as a writer have grown and improved tremendously as a result. I find myself scanning every e-mail Blake Kimzey sends to announce the upcoming classes in anticipation of learning more and more. Yesterday I participated in Mag Gabbert's Submitting to Journals and Magazines. I had never considered submitting in this manner, but having learned all that she had to share of her knowledge, I may now. Mag is very knowledgeable and open to share what she knows and the tools that she uses to become published. I highly recommend her classes, whatever the subject matter might be. I also took her 8-week Non Fiction Essay class and it was AMAZING."

"I really enjoyed the Personal Essay workshop. As a complete novice I did not know what to expect but the instructor, Mag Gabbert, made it non-intimidating. I enjoyed reading my classmates' work and getting feedback from them and Mag. The published works that we read were well-chosen and the workshop felt like a mini college course, but without the pressure. I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in getting feedback and guidance on their work and/or learning more about the craft of writing. It was a great experience and I look forward to taking other workshops."

“I just completed the nonfiction essay class with Mag Gabbert. Excellent class. Great group to work with. Mag is a tough editor but that is greatly appreciated! I highly recommend it. It was good to get the creative juices flowing again!”

"Hello all future students of Writing Workshops Dallas. I took the Non-Fiction class with Mag Gabbert. First let me say that I had never participated in a writing workshop before so this experience was a nerve-wrecking one for me. With that said, Mag made this class go above any of my expectations. I learned something new from each and every class. She created a safe environment to be open and honest yet made sure everyone was aware to be respectful. She heard your thoughts with such an open mind. Every writing exercise was challenging and helped open a new side of me I wasn't even aware existed. She made the reading assignments fully enjoying. I am definitely looking forward to taking another class at the Writing Workshops Dallas (preferably one with Mag Gabbert). Your fellow classmates also really help make this experience a great one. I was fortunate enough to have a class that included a variety of backgrounds. This was definitely well worth the money."

"I just completed Mag Gabbert's Introduction to Poetry class and highly recommend it. In six weeks my knowledge of poetry has been greatly expanded and therefore my enjoyment of poetry as well. Mag's approach to teaching and workshopping is engaging and conversational as well as encouraging. If you have any reservations about taking this class, or if you have any fear for having your work critiqued, please put those aside and take this class! It's a truly safe and professional environment focused entirely on helping the writer improve."

"I took the non-fiction essay course with Mag Gabbert. She is a great class leader and committed to writing. The class always has momentum. For someone like me who is nervously sharing their writing for the first time it's a safe and constructive environment. Your classmates will also be a source of inspiration and development. Enjoy."

"Ashley (Mag) Gabbert's personal essay class was an adventure! An eight-week immersion in analyzing quality essays and trying to attain that in our lengthy writing assignments. Fascinating to get feedback from the wide range of reader types represented as students in the class. Best feedback of all came from Gabbert pushing you to transform good writing into great.”

"I highly recommend the Creative Nonfiction class with Ashley (Mag) Gabbert. I loved the opportunity to polish my writing and get feedback from the class and Mag. Mag's insight and suggestions for my personal essays helped me to be a better writer. The small class setting was intimate and allowed each of us to contribute to discussion. The required texts will be a useful reference as I continue my writing life. I definitely plan on taking another workshop from Writing Workshops Dallas and Mag Gabbert!"

"Mag Gabbert's seminar on Submission for Publishing was just what I needed. The submission process is daunting and unfamiliar for someone without a formal education. The gaps created by me learning through trial and error were all filled at this seminar. Mag's delivery was crisp and on task which I appreciated. She answered all questions in a succinct, understandable, and very human way. I highly recommend this seminar and plan on taking more classes starting in 2018."

“I had a great experience taking the poetry workshop with Ashley Mag Gabbert! Her instruction was engaging, thoughtful and flexible to the needs of her students. I've also taken several one-off seminars with Writing Workshops Dallas, and they've all been great experiences! I would definitely recommend this place to any writer.”

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