BURN DOWN THE MILL:
Writing Abuse & Redemption in Fiction
with Guest Authors
Emily Collins & Erin Michelle Gibes
Sunday, October 24th via Zoom
11:00 am to 2:30 pm MST
(10% will be donated to helping survivors of abuse; Erin has chosen to donate her 10% to Sister Carmen (based in Colorado where she lives) and Emily is donating hers to Mirror Memoirs; if you are in a position to pay more than the $150.00 we will either use these funds toward a scholarship seat or split the amount to donate more to both of these previously listed organizations. While October is domestic violence awareness month and we are using that to contain Burn Down the Mill, this workshop is open to anyone who has endured abuse of any kind).
Space is limited to 10 participants to guarantee intimacy
To register: Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will direct you from there.
Space tends to fill fast in (W)rites of Passage workshops, especially the uber special Guest Author Workshop Series so if you want to take the class, we recommend signing up now. We do ask that you read the entire description below to have a clear understanding of what this workshop entails and who it is for. Payment due upon registration, but if you need to work out a payment plan do let us know.
The (W)rites of Passage Guest Author Series is proud to host this important workshop to honor October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In this 3-hour Zoom course, guest instructors Emily Collins & Erin Michelle Gibes will provide a safe, respectful, nurturing environment where victims/survivors can be assured their lived stories will be met with both compassion and rigorous literary craft instruction. If you're wondering if this is the right workshop for you, Emily & Erin invite you to imagine (and/or potentially remember) the following scenario: You're sitting in a writing course and it's your turn to have your cherished story workshopped. Like many writers in the room, you're nervous, excited, and ready for feedback. But unlike the other workshop stories you've read so far, your piece deals with themes of trauma and abuse. Along with the usual workshop jitters, you're worried about being invalidated, misunderstood, and/or reliving a version of your past trauma. Several minutes into workshop, someone makes a callous remark about your piece. "Sounds like more grist for the mill," says the participant (or facilitator) who is clearly not a survivor of abuse. And suddenly you feel like a complete outlier. "Why did I choose to write about that?" you second guess yourself, or "It's my fault. I didn't 'get' that experience 'right.'" You leave the workshop feeling invalidated as a writer and a survivor. A little voice in your head says, "See? This is what happens when you write your truth." If you're a fiction writer and survivor of abuse fed up with mediocre feedback and insensitive instruction, then we invite you to join this course for writers and survivors.
Emily and Erin provide this environment because they are both writers and survivors of abuse themselves and have experienced too many obnoxious workshops to count. As their host (this is Sarah from (W)rites of Passage talking now, and I'd like you to know that I too am a survivor and, depending on the day, the hour, the moment, sometimes still a victim—therefore, I hope you'll believe me when I say I PROMISE you that I absolutely trust both these writers to support you and your writing; for those regulars reading this, you will know Erin as a fellow, beloved, and longtime (W)rites of Passage (W)riter who taught us the beauty of being vulnerable in the safe and liberated space we all create by frequently crying cathartic tears in our time and space together). Emily and Erin care about the story only you know how to tell. You'll have the opportunity to workshop stories that deal with abuse as a theme and learn about the intersection of abuse, trauma, and redemption in works of literary and speculative fiction. This course, therefore, is limited to fiction writers and survivors of abuse.
The phrase "Grist for the Mill" is often used as a way to gloss over a writer's (especially a marginalized writer's) experienced trauma, implying that any abuse or harassment we experience is actually an opportunity to improve our writing, and is even something we should be grateful for. Your trauma is not fodder for sensationalist fiction. It shapes the way you see the world and can imbue your work with unparalleled nuance and strength.
Students will submit a piece of short fiction (1500-2500 words) for critique, examine the intersection of the cycle of abuse, trauma, and redemption in specific works of literary and speculative fiction, and will be given tools and strategies to ensure their stories are received as emotional truths by their readers. This course is will be taught by (and the discussion will be facilitated by) survivors of abuse (it is also hosted by a survivor). The goal is to help writers honor the truth of their own experiences with kindness, learn how to be vulnerable in their work while protecting their personal boundaries, avoid reducing incidents of abuse in fiction to sensationalism, reveal the emotional resonance of incidents of abuse, and preserve themes of redemption and hope. Writers should expect to do some preliminary homework before the actual workshop (but this will be detailed in emails once you have signed up). I, Sarah again, realize this is a tender topic so if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hestitate to contact me at the same email above for registration.
Erin Michelle Gibes is a writer, certified book coach, and project manager for writers who need practical, realistic strategies for translating their otherworldly dreams into a polished manuscript. Her specialties are helping writers with structure, pacing, worldbuilding, and staying true to their instincts as storytellers. As a victim/survivor of abuse, Erin has developed a fascination with power dynamics and how they work, along with a deep commitment to upending them at every level—especially in the world of publishing. Erin holds a master's in education; her fiction has been published (as Erin Jendras) in Cicada magazine, Not Your Average Monster Anthology Vol. II, Devilfish Review, and others.
Emily Collins is a freelance writer and editor based in Missoula, Montana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Orleans Review, The Florida Review, The Chicago Review of Books, and others. Her stories featuring themes of abuse and redemption have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and other anthologies. She's a MFA in fiction candidate at the University of Montana where she teaches college writing. She's also a freelance writer/editor offering editorial services such as manuscript review, resume writing, and college/graduate school application review. For more, visit emilycollinswriter.com.