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