NC Literary Hall of Fame



GREENSBORO—What are you writing about?

It might seem like an obvious question, but writers would benefit from asking themselves this question more often.

Once writers are sure of their goals, they can begin making decisions on craft, point of view, structure, voice, and more. This builds a more confident writer, and what writer couldn't use a little more confidence?

The North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 27, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Registration is now open.

Susan Harlan will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction, "Writing Personal Essays and Memoir."

What are personal essays and memoir, and why do we write them? This workshop invites participants to reflect on what they hope to achieve with their writing and how to accomplish their goals. Whether they’re writing a memoir, travel essays, object essays, or portraits of people or places, Susan Harlan's goal is to help attendees build confidence in their own voice. She will ask: What is their writing about, and how can they communicate this to their readers? The class will talk about what Vivian Gornick calls “the situation and the story” and discuss structure and organization (especially beginnings and endings), concrete detail (and omission!), pacing, dialogue, vivid images, and point of view. Registrants will think about how everyday writing exercises can serve as starting points for longer projects. And they'll look at nonfiction works published online and in print.

For full details on applying to the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction, click here.

Harlan’s essays have appeared in venues including The Guardian US, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, Roads & Kingdoms, The Common, The Brooklyn Quarterly, The Morning News, Curbed, Atlas Obscura, Public Books, and Nowhere, and her book Luggage was published in the Bloomsbury series Object Lessons in March 2018. She also writes satire for McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Awl, The Billfold, Avidly, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Hairpin, The Belladonna, Janice, and The Establishment, and she was a finalist judge for the Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest this year, with Michael Ian Black, Hank Herman, and Julie Schumacher. Her humor book Decorating a Room of One's Own: Conversations on Interior Design with Miss Havisham, Jane Eyre, Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Bennet, Ishmael, and Other Literary Notables, which began as a column for The Toast, was published by Abrams in October 2018. She teaches English literature at Wake Forest University.

Beginning writers interested in nonfiction, or those who want to sample a broader selection of classes, may register for additional offerings.

Eddie Huffman, author of a forthcoming biography of Doc Watson for the University of North Carolina Press, will lead the session "Real Characters: Capturing People in Nonfiction Prose."

People are messy and multilayered. This class will explore ways to cut through the clutter and hit the highlights that bring a subject to life in a memoir, essay, or profile.

"Stepping Back from Your Writing" with Joseph Mills, whose poetry collection This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family, invites participants to bring a draft in progress and plan to revise. In James Thurber’s “Many Moons,” a jeweler steps back from a creation and asks, “What is this thing I’ve made?” This is what wall writers need to do as we revise, but it can be difficult to get the necessary distance. In this workshop, participants will discuss ways to “defamiliarize themselves” with their writing so that they can see it more clearly, and they’ll consider several quick “down and dirty diagnostics” exercises that help a writer assess a piece of work in process.

Additional conference programming includes "Lunch with an Author" (only available to those who pre-register); faculty readings and open mics; and the annual Slush Pile Live! where poetry and prose will be read aloud in two rooms in front of panels of editors and publishers, who will raise their hands as soon as they hear something in the pieces that would make them stop reading if they came across the submission in a slush pile.

Register now.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit


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