Write Your Story.
Let's start together.
Shaped closely by in-class discussions of a wide variety of essayistic forms (including memoir, personal essays, narrative essays, braided essays, lyric essays, stream-of-consciousness essays, and experimental essays, to name a few), these online writing classes and workshops will target elements of craft and structure, point-of-view, chronology, form, voice, and shape. Regardless of which class you choose, we'll collectively explore new ways of weaving those abstract qualities of beauty and truth—the two pillars of strong, memorable literary nonfiction—into new and meaningful creative work. By the end of our time together, students will have the beginning framework of new essays, techniques for continuing to develop existing manuscripts, and deep connections with fellow writers with whom you may continue to seek companionship and accountability well beyond your time as students in my class. There is perhaps no greater endeavor than constructing artful narratives of our lives, and together, we’ll reap the rewards.
These classes and workshops are for writers of all backgrounds and skill levels.
Any additional questions or recommendations, don't hesitate to reach out!
Online Classes & Workshops
Once upon a time, long before the Age of Oprah, writers who had lived through something fascinating or terrible or both would turn their experiences into fiction; nowadays, however, these stories equally take the form of creatively rendered memoirs—ruminative, retrospective narratives that comprise a sub-genre of the diverse and expansive genre we typically call creative nonfiction. What does this mean? It means, for one, that the artful rendering of personal narratives is increasingly considered valuable and, as luck would have it, marketable in the literary world. But what makes a memoir literary, how do these works best function, and how are they differentiated from autobiography, anecdotal prose, or simple recollection? Perhaps more importantly, considering the flood of memoir manuscripts on the market—the Neilson Bookscan reports a 400% increase published between 2004 and today—how can we elevate our own personal narratives into artful, meaningful work worthy of readership? In this class, we’ll study and discuss excerpts from some of the most successful and surprising literary memoirs on the market, discuss the elements that comprise a memorable literary memoir, and work to engage and understand the idea that memoir is less interested in the past than the act of remembering and identifying the many ways past selves continue to inform who we are in the present. Students will develop ideas, a conceptual framework, and key excerpts for their own memoir through in-class and take-home exercises. You’ll leave, in other words, with all you need to tell, and sell, your story.
This workshop is for writers of all backgrounds who feel they have a story to tell and are looking to develop new material while simultaneously exploring new ways to conceptualize and market a larger manuscript. Focus will be on generating entirely new material.
You're out of shape, bored of the same routine, or simply haven’t had the time to keep that promise you made to yourself months ago to make writing a priority. You’re stuck, in other words, in one way or in several. You need that extra push. Welcome to Essay Bootcamp. Over the course of this class, we’ll sweat our way back into the writing chair and work our way up to heavy lifting—of pencils and of thought—through a dozen new and generative exercises guaranteed to jump-start a winter of writing. Shaped closely by in-class discussions of a wide variety of both contemporary and canonical essayistic forms, our exercises will target point-of-view, chronology, form, voice, and structure, we'll flex our creative muscles daily through the creation of new and meaningful work. By the end of our time together, students will have the beginning framework of a dozen new essays and deep connections with fellow writers with whom they can share and discuss future work well beyond our time together.
This workshop is for writers of all backgrounds and skill levels who want to learn more about the contemporary essay and leave with the framework for dozens of new essays. Focus will be on generating new material.
You have true stories you want to tell, the drive to tell them, and everyone around you cheering you on (or else lamenting, complaining, urging you to begin, already!). But when you sit down to write, you feel as though you're a traveler without a roadmap, a writer without a deadline, an artist who needs and even craves constructive criticism and a dedicated pool of committed readers.
Welcome to our nonfiction workshop. This course functions as an innately critical creative writing workshop designed for individuals who are serious about their writing and serious, too, in their pursuit of advancing and polishing their work. The nature of our small, weekly workshop means each student will contribute to a vibrantly constructive, creative classroom space that encourages a supportive but sophisticated, rigorous approach to writing and revising creative nonfiction essays. Due to our workshop schedule, each student will also be held accountable in producing new material and revising regularly based on ample constructive written and verbal feedback. Students will also receive an individualized one-on-one conference with the instructor during which they'll receive personalized feedback and reading and writing recommendations.
This workshop is for writers of all backgrounds and skill levels who feel they would benefit from the ability to share and receive constructive feedback on their writing. Prior experience with a creative writing workshop is helpful but by no means necessary. Focus will be on shaping, restructuring, and revising existing nonfiction drafts.
In this 2-hour intensive master class, we’ll discuss the practicality and step-by-step process of developing a marketable book proposal for a full-length work of nonfiction, including memoir, essay collection, narrative nonfiction, literary journalism, and additional nonfiction forms. Over the course of our two hours, Amy will walk you through each element of a book proposal, using her own personal examples, resources, and material she’s drafted and used to successfully sell and market two memoirs. Amy will also share valuable experience, considerations, and tangible steps you can take before and after developing a book proposal, including finding and querying the right agent, publishing standalone excerpts, and enhancing your manuscript’s marketability as a means of making your book more appealing to potential editors. Students will also work to develop and fine-tune their own materials, including an “elevator pitch,” a one-paragraph book description, and a query letter.
Amy Butcher is an award-winning essayist and author of Mothertrucker, a book that interrogates the realities of female fear, abusive relationships, and America’s quiet epidemic of intimate partner violence set against the geography of remote, northern Alaska. Published in November 2021, Mothertrucker has already earned starred reviews and praise from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, The Chicago Tribune, Oxford Review of Books, Good Morning America, and Booklist, among others. Kirkus Reviews calls the book "...A sobering reflection on verbal and psychological abuse [that] honors the healing power of female friendship and questions the nature of divinity beyond its constricting patriarchal manifestations,” and Publisher’s Weekly writes, “[Mothertrucker] explores myriad issues with nuance and grace, including Indigenous rights, violence against women, religious hypocrisy, and environmental concerns.” Excerpts of Mothertrucker also earned a 2020 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, with judges calling the book "well researched," "very well-written," and "a positive antidote to the trauma of violence against women." In July 2019, Mothertrucker was optioned by Makeready Films for film development with Primetime Emmy-winning Joey Soloway directing and Academy and Golden Globe-winning actress Julianne Moore in a starring role.
Her first book, Visiting Hours, earned starred reviews and praise from The New York Times Sunday Review of Books, NPR, The Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and others. Additional essays have appeared in Granta, Harper's, The New York Times "Modern Love," The New York Times Sunday Review, The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The Iowa Review, Lit Hub, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, and Brevity, among others. Additional writing appears in The Best of Brevity, Advanced Creative Nonfiction: A Writer's Guide and Anthology, The Best Travel Writing 2016, The Soul Of A Great Traveler, Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction, The Best of Vela, and Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays.
Amy earned her MFA from the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program and was awarded the 2012-2013 recipient of Colgate University's Olive B. O'Connor Creative Writing Fellowship in nonfiction. She has additionally been awarded grants and awards from the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Ohio Arts Council, Word Riot Inc., and the Stanley Foundation for International Research. She presently serves as the Director of Creative Writing and an Associate Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University and teaches annually at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp in Sitka, Alaska.