The Writing Workshop
After Michelangelo died, someone found a piece of paper in his studio on which he had written a note to his apprentice,
in the handwriting of his old age: ”Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.”
Our daily morning workshops focus on first-person narrative nonfiction writing—story-telling based on a writer’s personal experience, sometimes accessed through food, travel, or family memories. We discuss the craft of narrative nonfiction: the narrator’s voice and role, effective structure and organization, revision techniques, and effective language. Whether your focus is on food, travel or pure memoir, we will work together to explore the techniques and craft of the genre.
Many writers bring a creative nonfiction work to revive and replenish, a work in progress, a germ of an idea, or come empty-handed and ready to respond to the rough-hewn charm found in Santo Stefano. Experiences in the town and instruction throughout the week will provide inspiration and writing prompts for those interested in starting new writing projects.
Early afternoons are set aside for reading, resting and writing.
Here are some distinctions of the genre, although the boundaries often blend and overlap.
Memoir makes meaning of life experience as a first-person narrator writes with complexity and layered thought. You may continue a work in progress or take advantage of the Abruzzese solitude to re-imagine personal circumstances with a new perspective.
Travel writing in the essay form reveals a narrator’s impressions of a place gained through watchful observation and reflection. The focus is on the influence of the place on the writer.
Food essays explore a narrator’s connection to a particular food or cuisine, such as the food typical of Abruzzo that can be traced to local traditions observed around the burgh.
During the week, the group will workshop each participant’s writing; in addition, each participant meets individually with the instructor at least once for more specific feedback.
The Reading Component: Soon after enrollment, you will receive a reading list of creative nonfiction titles—essay collections, book-length works, literature of Abruzzo—and books on craft, so you can prepare as much as you wish with background reading. In addition, you will receive about four specific essays to read and consider before arriving. These essays will serve as a starting point for discussion and modeling during the week of writing in Italy.
Learn more about the town and the writing workshop experience
in this Swedish TV segment about boutique hotels in Italy.
The reporters were in town filming during our stay in June 2012
and featured our workshop along with Daniele Kihlgren’s philosophy
about founding the hotel, Sextantio Albergo Diffuso. Even though the dialogue
starts in Swedish, the conversation soon switches to English.
Susan Imboden, Fairfield, CA, 2012
I do a lot of writing in my work and can put one word in front of the other. But the Santo Stefano workshop has given me the tools to write creatively. From the nuts and bolts of an essay to the nuances of tone, I received new skills and ways of looking at my work that have bumped both my writing and confidence a notch or two. And the cultural activities and camaraderie in that beautiful setting added so much to a fun and worthwhile week.
Dan Martin, Kansas City, MO, 2012
The content of the workshop was solid even for someone like me who teaches writing. I found that Kathryn’s understanding of the components of the memoir genre was strong and nuanced. She did a great job of explaining the elements of memoir and illustrating them with examples.
Jan Mannino, Laguna Beach, CA, 2012
Since attending Kathryn’s workshop my writing has improved considerably. Her teaching techniques, my class members, the surroundings, the food, the wine all came together in my efforts to find direction in the writing. Kathryn is an excellent instructor; her lessons on honesty in memoir writing have been a major turning point for me. She has refined my desire to write more and better. Learning to listen and to understand the critiques of the other writers have been an important life learning experience for me. I can highly recommend this workshop and trip to a magical place.
Richard Bilotti, Pennington, NJ, 2012
The content of the workshop was excellent, good enough to get me focused as never before on my work. The delivery was easy to understand and Kathryn’s making sure there was no room for nasty critical criticism made the tone very good.
Elizabeth Enger, Portland, OR, 2012
The instruction offered eye-opening insight about writing purpose, technique, revision, etc. I received great feedback from class members and the instructor. I finally feel I can understand the building blocks of memoir composition and revision because of the excellent classroom procedure and direction. I enjoyed the company of writers—amateur and professional—who came for the same purpose, regardless of experience. Watching other writers go through the process of creation was gratifying.
Arthur Darby, Calgary, Alberta, CN, 2012
The content of the workshop and the presentations were excellent, the materials were good, and the technique of having the writers listen while other gave feedback was good. I will recommend this course to anyone who will take it. Absolutely!
Julie Ramos, West Nyack, NY, 2011
All in all it was a memorable week that got me off my duff and writing again. I appreciated Kathryn’s encouragement. The individual meeting with her was very helpful. I hope you keep that part of the program.
Lorelei Albanese, San Juan, PR, 2011
Italy, in Other Words was a marvelous experience, and one I wish I could repeat. Everything was perfect: the setting, the food and drink, the writing classes, excursions, our classmates and, of course, the teacher. My best regards to Linda. She was a great asset for our workshop, and I feel sure she will be shine in her official role in 2012. Wish I could be there!
Dayle Fergusson, Goodlettsville, TN, 2010
Kathryn and Helen are amazing women with a passion for guiding aspiring writers to tap into their inner creativity, to step forward bravely, to write from the heart, to peel back the protective layers and reveal emotional truth.
Laura Vejarano, Milan, Italy, June 2010
I have the fondest memories of our week in Santo Stefano! It was both inspiring and instructional. I wrote in my notebook non-stop on the train from Rome to Milan, just enjoying the act of writing. I very much appreciated Kathryn’s style because it was very organized and engaging but, at the same time, left space for change as the group dynamics and needs evolved.