The Art of Writing the Personal Essay and the Feature Article
Mark Twain once wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” In the first half of the workshop, we will examine the short personal essay. What is essay? What is its literary tradition? Who are the essayists publishing today? What are the characteristics of good personal essay? How can writing personal essay further me in my writing?
It’s been said that good feature writing is “one part journalism and one part literature.” The second half of the workshop will delve into how to research and write feature articles, as well as why to write them.
Teresa Nicholas was born and raised in Yazoo City, Mississippi. After graduating from Swarthmore College with a degree in English Literature, she worked for a division of Random House, the New York publishing company, for twenty-five years.
A freelance writer since 2002, she is a regular contributor to Delta magazine and has written for Mississippi magazine and NPR’s Opinion Page. She is also a travel writer for Fodor’s in Mexico and Guatemala. She lives in Yazoo City and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with her husband, the writer Gerard Helferich.
Her first book, Buryin’ Daddy: Putting My Lebanese, Catholic, Southern Baptist Childhood to Rest, was recently published in the series, “Willie Morris Books in Biography and Memoir,” by the University Press of Mississippi.
Quotes for Buryin’ Daddy
“Buryin’ Daddy succeeds on so many levels I hardly know where to begin. But voice is a good place to start: you trust the author from the very first page. She doesn’t pull her punches, but she’s not out to grind an ax; she just intends to get at the truth, and get at it she does. She’s also got a fabulous ear for the way real people talk to one another, whether they’re lying or not, and she doesn’t miss even the smallest detail. But most importantly, her story is different from any I’ve ever read before, and I will long remember the people she’s told me about in these pages.” —Steve Yarbrough, PEN/Faulkner finalist and author of Prisoners of War
“Teresa Nicholas is just about as gracious, dignified, and wise as a woman south of the Mason Dixon Line and just this side of the Mississippi gets to be. Her story made me cry a few times, laugh many more times, and stay up to ungodly hours because I could not bear to leave the people in her life—who are also, thank the Lord, the people she has delivered to us in the pages of Buryin’ Daddy. This book has all the elements we hope for in a memoir: humor, pain, prose as fluid as poetry, wisdom, even redemption—and not just for the author.”—Beverly Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys
Readers are in for a treat as Nicholas, together with her mother, peels back the deep layers to get at the truth behind family secrets. A surprisingly humorous and wonderfully detailed story, Buryin’ Daddy is one that readers won’t quickly forget. —Augusta Scattergood, Delta Magazine
Her voice is pitch-perfect, and I can identify with Nicholas’s loving shame over how and where she grew up…Even if you don’t directly identify with her background, this is a memoir that is difficult to put down. —Donna Ladd, Jackson Free Press