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Reclaiming Your Voice Online Class is coming!

 

What are you doing for yourself before 2017 comes to an end? What do you want to do for your art? Have you been wondering about how you can make your stories more powerful on the page? What if I told you you already have what you need? What if I told you that the power is in your voice?

What is voice? What are publishers and agents referring to when they say they’re looking for a strong, original voice?

Have you found yourself wondering what your voice is? Do you find that you can tell your stories but they don’t sound the same when you write them down?

Are you struggling to write in a voice that is unique to you and your stories?

Ever met someone and felt empowered by their story and wonder how they learned to write so fluidly and honestly?

I created the Reclaiming Your Voice Class just for you!

This is an intensive writing class where I, Vanessa Mártir, will lead you through various exercises with the aim of uncovering/re-discovering your voice, and unlearning what you’ve been taught about your voice on the page. Why do you need this class?

Because you’ve been told repeatedly, directly and subliminally, that you are not good enough and that your stories are not worthy.

You’ve been taught to write in ways that stunt your writing and expression.

You’ve been taught that you have to write a certain way and that way negates your cultural influences and verbal tics and everything that makes you you.

I get it. It was done to me too and I’ve written about it. It has become one of my missions as a writer and educator to help writers discover and learn to write in their own distinctive voices, because that’s where your power is. We will read. We will discuss. We will write. A LOT. Join us!

 

Class Information

Class Dates: December 6, 13, 20

Time: 7pm-9pm EST

(Can’t make those times? No worries! Sessions will be recorded so no worries if you can’t make the actual class.)

Price: $50 for one class, $90 for two, $130 for three (including a $25 nonrefundable registration fee

Platform: Zoom (via videoconference)

For more information, contact Vanessa at writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com with “Reclaiming Your Voice” in the subject box.

Note: This class does not include workshopping of student projects.

 

About the facilitator:

Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based writer, educator and mama. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, and chronicles the journey at vanessamartir.blog. A five-time VONA/Voices and two-time Tin House fellow, Vanessa’s work has appeared in Bitch Media, The Butter, Smokelong Quarterly, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. She has essays forthcoming in Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay, and Connections: An Integrated Reader and Rhetoric for College Writing, edited by Kerry Beckford and Donald Jones. Vanessa is the founder of the #52essays2017 challenge, and created the Writing Our Lives Workshop through which she’s helped hundreds of writers write their own personal and memoir essays. Check out her writing and future plans on her website at: vanessamartir.com

The Wonder of Trees

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When my partner leaves at 5am, I am left blissfully alone, to listen to the blue jays screech and watch the tree glow outside my window. It’s that eerie light that happens in late spring, when the sun shines a certain way and the leaves turn towards heaven. The dew glistens and the morning is like a prayer.

I saw it one June morning–a fruit hanging from a branch. I remembered the plum tree in our backyard when I was growing up in 1980s Brooklyn.

I started climbing the tree when I was five. I scuffed my sneakers and scraped my legs. Once, I poked myself so hard on my side with a branch, that I bled through my t-shirt. I didn’t care that mom didn’t approve. She’d yell,“Bajate d’alli, machuda!”, but I kept scrambling up. There, I’d imagine a life where my mother was as gentle with me as she was with the seeds she planted in the soil beneath the plum tree. Seeds that became tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers and cilantro.

I’m 41 now, and mom is still not tender. That plum tree was cut down years ago.

When I saw the fruit outside my window, heavy enough to bow the branch, I ran out to look more closely. It’s a crabapple tree. Different, but the same. I can see it from wherever I write: on the deck, on the couch in the living room, when I look to my left in my writing room.

It’s always there–a tree–saving my life.

(Just got a rejection for this flash CNF piece but I have a soft spot for it (and trees) so I decided to post it here. It’s said that when Stephen King was starting out, he used to put all his rejection letters from publishers on a nail on a wall. After years of work, the refusals became softer. I’m not Stephen King. I don’t have to be, I’m Vanessa Martir…but this is my form of posting a rejection slip on a wall.)

Why did I create the Writing Our Lives Workshop?

Why did I create the Writing Our Lives Workshop? What’s different about my classes and my teaching style? What do I have planned for the coming months? I created this video to answer all your questions.

 

I also have a new website. You can check it out at vanessa martir.com. Stop by. Say hi. Let’s build!

Reclaiming Your Voice — An Online Generative Writing Class with Vanessa Mártir

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What is voice? What are publishers and agents referring to when they say they’re looking for a strong, original voice?

Have you found yourself wondering what your voice is? Do you find that you can tell your stories but they don’t sound the same when you write them down?

Are you struggling to write in a voice that is unique to you and your stories?

Ever met someone and felt empowered by their story and wonder how they learned to write so fluidly and honestly?

I created the Reclaiming Your Voice Class just for you!

This is an intensive writing class where I, Vanessa Mártir, will lead you through various exercises with the aim of uncovering/re-discovering your voice, and unlearning what you’ve been taught about your voice on the page. Why do you need this class?

Because you’ve been told repeatedly, directly and subliminally, that you are not good enough and that your stories are not worthy.

You’ve been taught to write in ways that stunt your writing and expression.

You’ve been taught that you have to write a certain way and that way negates your cultural influences and verbal tics and everything that makes you you.

I get it. It was done to me too and I’ve written about it. It has become one of my missions as a writer and educator to help writers discover and learn to write in their own distinctive voices, because that’s where your power is. We will read. We will discuss. We will write. A LOT. Join us!

 

Class Information

Class Dates: December 6, 13, 20

Time: 7pm-9pm EST

Price: $50 for one class, $90 for two, $130 for three (including a $25 nonrefundable registration fee

Platform: Zoom (via videoconference)

For more information, contact Vanessa at writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com with “Reclaiming Your Voice” in the subject box.

Note: This class does not include workshopping of student projects.

 

About the facilitator:

Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based writer, educator and mama. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, and chronicles the journey at vanessamartir.blog. A five-time VONA/Voices and two-time Tin House fellow, Vanessa’s work has appeared in Bitch Media, The Butter, Smokelong Quarterly, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. She has essays forthcoming in Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay, and Connections: An Integrated Reader and Rhetoric for College Writing, edited by Kerry Beckford and Donald Jones. Vanessa is the founder of the #52essays2017 challenge, and created the Writing Our Lives Workshop through which she’s helped hundreds of writers write their own personal and memoir essays.

Writing Fiction from Real Life: An Online Generative Class with Vanessa Mártir

 

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Do you have stories you want to tell and need help telling them.

Or, say, you have these stories about your life that you want to write but you don’t want to piss anyone off or aren’t ready to admit this really happened to you–label it fiction!

Or, perhaps, you’ve been writing fiction forever and want to dig into what it means to use your real life as fodder for your fiction.

Or maybe you’re mostly a memoir/personal essay writer and you’re interested in writing fiction.

No matter where you’re coming from, if the title of this class piqued your interest, there’s a reason for it.

What I love about fiction is that we are free to use all of the materials of our human experience in writing it.

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What do I know about writing fiction from real life? I wrote two novels running away from memoir: A Woman’s Cry (Augustus Publishing, 2007) and The Write Play (unpublished). I’ve also had short stories published that were written using materials from my life, like the flash piece Dollhead, published in SmokeLong Quarterly in 2016.

I know that using my life, the people I’ve known, the experiences I’ve had, have given me a wonderful foundation to work with in my stories.

In this class, participants will:

  1. use personal experiences and observations to craft compelling fiction and characters;
  2. receive insight into my inspirations and methods, which will help you take away some fresh ideas for your own writing;
  3. generate material to take with you and hopefully keep working on; and
  4. build scenes and story starters;
  5. leave with a toolkit of practical approaches for translating real-life elements into fuel for your fiction.

 

Class Information

Dates: November 8, 15, 29 

Time: 7pm-9pm EST

Price: $50 for one class, $90 for two, $130 for three (including a $25 nonrefundable registration fee

Platform: Zoom (via videoconference)

For more information, contact Vanessa at writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com with “Writing Fiction from Real Life” in the subject box.

This class does not include workshopping of student projects.

 

About the facilitator:

Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based writer, educator and mama. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, and chronicles the journey at vanessamartir.blog. A five-time VONA/Voices and two-time Tin House fellow, Vanessa’s work has appeared in Bitch Media, The Butter, Smokelong Quarterly, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. She has essays forthcoming in Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay, and Connections: An Integrated Reader and Rhetoric for College Writing, edited by Kerry Beckford and Donald Jones. Vanessa is the founder of the #52essays2017 challenge, and created the Writing Our Lives Workshop through which she’s helped hundreds of writers write their own personal and memoir essays.

Writing the Ghosts that Haunt: a Six Week Online Generative Class with Vanessa Mártir – Postponed until 2017

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Note: this class is being postponed until early 2017. More news soon!

In her essay collection Create Dangerously, Edwidge Danticat writes: “All artists, writers among them, have several stories–one might call them creation myths–that haunt and obsess them.” Does this resonate with you? Are there stories you circle back to again and again? Stories about your life that you want to tell, but you don’t know where to start? Do you wonder what could come of tapping into your reserves, mining for the deeper stories and your deepest feelings?

Vanessa Mártir, a renowned workshop leader and storyteller, has delved into the darkest places of her life to find the brightest lights, and will help you do the same in this craft talk and generative class.

  1. Participants of “Writing the Ghosts that Haunt” will:
  2. Come away with an understanding of why their stories are important and necessary.
  3. Compile a list of stories they can dig into.
  4. Begin to write at least one of the personal stories from this list.
  5. Begin to add sensory details to the story they select.
  6. Zero in on and develop a scene in this story.

Class Dates: November 13, 20, 27, December 4, 11, 18 (Videos will be posted online for registered students who cannot make these dates)

Time: 7pm-9pm EST

Price: $300* (including a 75 nonrefundable registration deposit

Platform: Zoom (via videoconference platform which also permits a call-in option)

To register or for more information, contact Vanessa at writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com with “Writing the Ghosts that Haunt” in the subject box.

This class does not include workshopping of student projects, but students will write and receive feedback on writing exercises and assignments. Workshopping of student material may be offered for an additional cost, on a case-by-case basis.

* Price will go up in the spring so take advantage of this deal now.

 

About the facilitator: 

Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based writer, educator and mama. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, and chronicles the journey at vanessamartir.blog. A five-time VONA/Voices and two-time Tin House fellow, Vanessa’s work has appeared in Bitch Media, The Butter, Smokelong Quarterly, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. She has essays forthcoming in Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay, and Connections: An Integrated Reader and Rhetoric for College Writing, edited by Kerry Beckford and Donald Jones. Vanessa is the founder of the #52essays2017 challenge, and created the Writing Our Lives Workshop through which she’s helped hundreds of writers write their own personal and memoir essays.

Writing Coach Tip #1: Who are you writing for?

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I am a writer. I am a writing teacher. I am moving into the world of being a writing coach (though the truth is I’ve been doing this unofficially for years). I think of coaching along the same lines I think of my writing: Who is my audience? Who am I doing this for?

My audience is and always will be people of color. Yes, that means I write about and for people of color. I mean, it’s great when folks who aren’t POC read my work and learn from me, but I have to be honest when I say that they are not who I have in mind when I do this work.

I write for that girl who grew up in the hood after the Fire Wars and at the height of the crack era. Whose neighborhood was a pile of rubble. Who created an imaginative world in the junkyard next door. Who learned what violence was and heartbreak was in the same place she learned about community and resilience.

I write for the scholarship kid who was repeatedly reminded that she didn’t belong.

I write for the ones who were told that the only reason they were admitted to [insert university name here] was because of affirmative action. Like we couldn’t possibly have earned our seat or worked for that seat. Like we were indebted to white people for all that we have and will become.

I write for the single mom who doesn’t know how she got there but is determined to make it, for herself and for her children.

I write for the girls who teased their hair and blasted freestyle songs by TKA and George Lamond, Cynthia and Judy Torres, from the glass front stereo in the living room. The songs she sang, while propped on a pillow on the sill of her best friend’s third floor window. The girls who sang to the boys playing stickball on the street below.

I write for us who grew up in NYC during the birth of hip hop. Who saw the kids stealing away at night with their bags full of spray cans. Who saw them return with paint stained hands and stories about the art they created on train cars and walls, and having to run away from the cops before they could take it all in.

I write for those who waited anxiously while the break dancers slit the cardboard boxes with box cutters so they could lay them out to do their headpins and windmills and hand hops. Some of us even knew how to get power from the lamp posts so we could blast music for the boys and girls in their track suits and kangols to do their thing.

We who danced to Menudo and learned all the steps from the videos. We who excitedly planned to go see the movie Una Aventura Llamada Menudo, and later, Salsa with former Menudo member Robby Rosa.

We who learned about love and heartbreak from the salsa songs and boleros our mothers listened to on Super KQ while they cleaned our apartments with King Pine.

We women who dare to love women, and men who dare to love men. And those of us who don’t fit into the binaries. Who love who we love in darkness because we are terrified of what will happen when and if that comes to light.

And those of us who love under the strobe light for everyone to see, because we can and want to. Because we dare. Because we know we will be ostracized and judged, but we do it anyway because we love that hard and with that much risk.

We who rarely see ourselves in movies and books, and when we do, we are the drug dealers and the nannies and the maids and the prostitutes. We are the criminals.

We who when we learn about where and who we come from, are told in no uncertain terms that it was the white man’s burden to save us, and they’ve been saving us ever since.

I write for and about us, and I do so unapologetically. And when I think about coaching people like us, I know that our stories are unique and necessary and important; and the needs of the writers of those stories are also unique and important, and must be considered.

You need a writing coach who understands these realities, fam.

Today, as I move forward in this new venture, I am thinking specifically about what writers of color need: What support do they need? What do I key in on when it comes to craft and living the “writer life”?

I am thinking today about voice: voice on the page; how we tell our stories and to whom.

Who is in the room with you when you write, metaphorically speaking? Can you be your complete self with these people? Are there people who make you feel uncomfortable, insecure, like you are not enough? Why are they in the room with you? How is there presence affecting your writing? What can you do to remove them?

There is no such thing as writing for everyone or a general audience. That far too often translates to white people since we’ve been told directly and subliminally for our entire lives that we should aim to write like dead white men, and that our people and our cultures and our histories aren’t worthy of being studied or read. We learned this when the books we read and the histories we learned in school were largely white and western.

So, what do we do? Much of the work requires unlearning what we’ve learned. We have to dig into ourselves to find our voices. We have to do that now.

Check out my essay “Writers of Color: Your Voice Matter” for tips on how to find your voice; and how I learned that I was writing for the white gaze and what steps I took to unlearn that.

And stay tuned for my online Finding Your Voice class coming in November.

I’ll also be launching writing coach sessions soon. Until then, read on and write on and stay beautiful. Word.