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Squire Summer Writing Workshops Instructor Spotlight: Jim Grimsley

We’re excited to have Jim Grimsley lead “It Takes a Workshop: Conversations in Creative Nonfiction” at the 2024 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, Thursday—Sunday, July 25—28, on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville.

Grimsley is the author of nine novels, a collection of short stories, a volume of plays, and a memoir. Works include Winter BirdsDream BoyComfort & Joy, and The Dove in the Belly. His novels are published in German, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese. His first novel was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award. In 2005 he received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A memoir, How I Shed My Skin, was published by Algonquin Books in 2015.

We recently asked Grimsley what he’s reading, how he spends his free time, and what registrants can expect from his creative nonfiction workshop.

NCWN: What are you currently reading?

JG: Collen McCullough’s seven book series on the collapse of the Roman Republic. I read books of all kinds; the best book I’ve read lately is Blackouts, the National Book Award winner by Justin Torres.

NCWN: What is one book by a North Carolina author you love?

JG: Randall Kenan’s Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, which was an extraordinary magical look at the same eastern North Carolina countryside where I grew up. While I didn’t know Randall well, his grace and wisdom were always apparent in his person as well as his writing. His death was a tremendous loss for all of us.

NCWN: Beyond writing and reading, how do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?

JG: I’m a much too avid gamer. I play Elder Scrolls online with a group of friends, and I play single-player games like the Dragon Age series, the Elder Scrolls series, Elden Ring, and Mass Effect, which is my favorite series of all time. Though my nostalgic favorite would be Baldur’s Gate and its sequel, the Bioware versions, not the latest incarnation. I have also played all the Fallout games and love to kill zombies in my power armor. I admire the storytelling, cinematic qualities of these games.

NCWN: What can participants expect from your workshop at the Squire Workshops?

JG: My approach to a workshop is to be guided by the questions that any given writer has about their work, so I always insist that writers begin a discussion with their own greatest worries about what they’ve written. A writer has to be a critic of the work they produce. If you are too easily satisfied by what you’ve written, you will never make it better. So my workshop will focus on the rewriting that makes a first draft into something fine and real. I’ll likely begin the session with an overview of what makes a piece of writing hard to put down. We’ll be able to read some good creative nonfiction as an adjunct to the work on the writing from members of the group. The schedule offers us a number of sessions so we should be able to develop a good feeling for one another and dive into each other’s work in depth.

There is still time to sign up for “It Takes a Workshop: Conversations in Creative Nonfiction” with Jim Grimsley at the 2024 Squire Summer Writing Workshops. Register today to join us!

It Takes a Workshop: Conversations in Creative Nonfiction

This will be a work-sharing session in which participants will share and discuss their work. Registrants will work in-depth on their own manuscript samples, as well as their colleagues’, while also studying the principles of the genre with instructor Jim Grimsley. The focus will be on the work of the writers in the room and the goal will be to provide helpful response to all the writers present.