21c Writing Workshops
Winter 2020 Workshop
Between the Sheets:
Writing Sex & Desire
When: Sundays, January 12, 19, 26, and February 2
Time: 1:00-3:00 PM
Where: 21c Louisville, 700 West Main Street
(free street parking on Sundays)
Sex writing is categorized under a lot of different names -- erotica, romance, porn -- but rarely is it given prominent real estate in literary fiction - or even taken seriously. There are many reasons for that. At the top of the list is the "Bad Sex in Literary Fiction" award, which annually highlights sex writing that uses awkward language and the objectification of women's bodies as a vehicle to describe sexual engagement. But another prominent reason sex writing is often devalued is because so many women are writing it. As writer Kristen Roupenian, author of "Cat Person," notes in a recent piece in The Guardian, the inclusion of any description of sex in a piece of writing by a woman often becomes the focal point of the piece, even if that really isn't its focus, and allows critics to pigeonhole her as a "sex writer" alone.
Over the course of 4 consecutive Sundays, we're going to examine fiction and nonfiction about sex and desire, particularly works by women, that center sex and have merit because of the inclusion of sexual content, not in spite of it. Together, we'll look at work by Roxane Gay, bell hooks, Natalie Lima, Crystal Wilkinson, Allison Wallis, Randa Jarrar, Jennifer Wortman, and more; we'll discuss what makes the work of these writers effective, what tools the writing uses to achieve its goals, what it ultimately accomplishes, and what we can borrow from it to improve our own approaches to writing sex. Participants will leave this workshop with a reading list of sex writing, a draft of a new piece of sex writing, feedback on that work (or, if preferred, on a piece of previously-drafted work), and suggestions of journals where they might submit their work.
Megan Pillow is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction and is currently a doctoral candidate in the University of Kentucky’s English Department. Her work has appeared, among other places, in Electric Literature, SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, Paper Darts, Brevity, and Passages North, and has been featured in Longreads. She has twice been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for Best Small Fictions, for Best of the Net, has a story featured on the 2019 Wigleaf Top 50, and has an essay honored as notable in the 2019 edition of The Best American Essays. Megan is working on a novel and completing her dissertation, an examination of the American freak show and its literature. Megan has received fellowships from Pen Parentis and the Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and completed a residency with the Ragdale Foundation. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her two children, but a big part of her heart also lives in Portland, Oregon.