Steve Almond

Five Things I've Learned About

Where Stories Come From

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Join bestselling writer and teacher Steve Almond, and discover the Five Things he’s Learned about the powerful emotions that serve as the engines of our storytelling – and about the ways that these emotions show up in literature, shape our writing, and inform our lives.

Online Event Details

  • 120 minutes


  • Single-Class Ticket - $60.00

View the archive of my two-hour class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about the powerful emotions that serve as the engines of our storytelling – and about the ways that these emotions show up in literature, shape our writing, and inform our lives.

I’m Steve Almond. I’m a writer and teacher.

Three decades ago, when I left journalism to pursue an MFA in fiction, I was obsessed with the idea that I was going to become a Writer—capital W. I was sure that I had been summoned to this calling; that all the exalted words bubbling around inside me would come pouring out, in the form of scripture.

That is not what happened. Instead, I spent years writing self-indulgent dreck, none of which (thankfully) was ever published.

It took a long time, but I eventually realized that my destiny wasn’t to be a Writer. It was to be a storyteller. Beyond my infatuation with language was the fundamental, and universal, need to make sense of the world around me, and inside me, through story.

This impulse has guided my career, inspired me to write a dozen books of fiction and non-fiction, to write essays and reviews for the New York Times Magazine, to launch the podcast Dear Sugars with my pal Cheryl Strayed, to serve as a literary correspondent for NPR, and host storytelling events for The Moth.

As a teacher of writing, I’ve encountered this yearning over and over: my students arrive desperate to locate the stories they are meant to tell, to pluck meaning from the rush of their experiences, to bear witness to their lives and honor their imaginations.

This is not as easy as it sounds. Because there are almost always deep psychological and emotional anxieties that hold us back from telling those stories. We fear exposing ourselves to readers, exposing our loved ones, unleashing the chaos and pain we most often carry in silence. If you’re anything like me, you spend a long time looking in the wrong places, too.

In this two-hour class we’ll talk about the five emotional states that are the central engines of storytelling: Obsession, Desire, Doubt, Rage, and Mercy. We’ll look at how each of these powerful emotions shows up in literature, and how they show up in our own lives. And we’ll try our hand at an in-class exercise that will allow us to learn by doing.

I hope you’ll join me for Five Things I’ve Learned about Where Stories Come From.

I look forward to our time together,

– Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Steve Almond is the author of twelve books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers All the Secrets of the World, Candyfreak and Against Football. His recent books include William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life, which is about reading and writing and the struggle to pay attention to our lives, and Bad Stories, a literary investigation of the 2016 election.

For four years, Steve hosted the New York Times Dear Sugars podcast with his pal Cheryl Strayed. His short stories have been anthologized widely, in the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Erotica, and Best American Mysteries series.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Your ticket entitles you to ongoing access to this class — even after the live session concludes.

If you purchase a ticket in time to join the class live, you can view the archive as soon as it’s posted, as often as you like. Look for an email with information about how to access the course archive within 48 hours of the end of the live class. Once you get it, you’ll have all the information you need to access it as you like across any and all devices you own.

If you purchase a ticket after the live class takes place, you can view the archive immediately, and you can return to it as frequently as you like

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There are two things to know:

  • Unfortunately, we can only accept cancellations and refunds up to 48 hours before a scheduled session.
  • There is sure to be a lapse in time between the time we refund your order and the time a corresponding credit appears on your credit card statement. So that you’re not left waiting and wondering, we’ll contact you as soon as we’ve processed the credit in our system.

For reasons we hope you’ll understand – the biggest of them the fact that we make a point of compensating the folks who host Five Things I’ve Learned classes as quickly as we can – we can’t accommodate refunds for tickets purchased within 48 of the start of a scheduled live event. We can also accommodate refund requests for the purchase of an archived session only within 24 hours from the time of purchase.

If you’ve purchased a ticket for this online class and you find that for some reason you can’t make the live session, you have two choices:

  • The first: View the session archive. You can view the session archive as soon as it’s posted – or any time, as often as you like. We’ll make an archive of this class available within 48 hours of the live session, and we’ll send every ticket holder details on how they can view it. As a ticket holder, you’re able to view this full session archive any time– as often as you like.
  • The second: Request a refund. Just send a note to, and we’ll help sort things out. Please keep in mind that we can only accommodate refund requests made more than 48 hours from the start of a live session.

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