What Stories Do You Have to Tell? Drexel’s New Storylab Can Help
February 20, 2015
The Drexel Storylab's "Insider Access Workshops" will use Drexel's unique archival treasures as inspiration for aspiring writers.
You stare at the computer screen. Type a few words and then delete them. Get up and get another cup of coffee.
Everyone has a story to tell, but getting started can be the hardest part. The Drexel Storylab, a new initiative in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English & Philosophy, aims to help writers of all levels jumpstart the creative process by working with established writers and looking for inspiration in unlikely places.
“Storylab workshops will honor the storyteller in everyone, and will endeavor to give people the tools to tell their own tales.”
The lab will offer a variety of creative writing experiences geared toward non-traditional students including working professionals, Drexel alumni and other interested community members. Workshops, which begin in April, will vary in length from one-day to multi-week programs and are currently offered on weekend mornings. Current workshops focus on fiction writing, but future workshops will include genres ranging from poetry to memoir and creative non-fiction. Future workshops also may include online options and even travel experiences.
“Storylab workshops will honor the storyteller in everyone, and will endeavor to give people the tools to tell their own tales,” said Philadelphia novelist and writing instructor Nomi Eve, author of “The Family Orchard” and the newly released “Henna House,” who will direct the lab.
The workshops will be taught by Eve, as well Drexel faculty and visiting writers who are accomplished in their fields. The non-credit workshops will cost between $200 and $400. Drexel alumni will receive a 10 percent discount. Eve is also now offering boutique, one-on-one mentoring sessions for intermediate and advanced writing students. For more information and to register, visit http://drexel.edu/engphil/academics/storylab/.
The first workshop, called “Idea Factory,” will be an all-level, fiction-writing workshop that will meet on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. from April 4 – May 16. This 7-week workshop, taught by Eve, aims to help writers kickstart their creativity and will focus on specific writing skills such as subject choice and vivid scene creation. The first six sessions will take place in person and the seventh session will consist of an individual Skype consultation with the instructor.
In addition to the traditional workshops, “Insider Access Workshops” will provide an exclusive look at Drexel’s collections in order to help spark aspiring writers’ imaginations. From its museum-quality collection of more than 12,000 textiles and garments in the Fox Historic Costume Collection to the rare archival artifacts of The Drexel Collection or the 18 million specimens at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Drexel’s treasure troves of historic objects will serve as a resource for generating fresh ideas.
“Writers need ways to get started, and using fascinating physical objects is one way to do this,” said Eve. “The Storylab’s ‘Insider Access Workshops’ will bring writers behind the scenes to experience the collections and then engage in writing exercises inspired by them. Drexel’s Academy of Natural Sciences, with its dinosaur bones, Lewis and Clark Field journals and other captivating artifacts, is the perfect springboard for this creative endeavor.”
“Writers need ways to get started, and using fascinating physical objects is one way to do this.”
The first “Insider Access Workshop,” called “Artifacts of Inspiration,” will take place at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia) on Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. from April 18 – May 30 (no class on May 23 for Memorial Day). Specific writing skills focused on will include description and story genesis.
This workshop will be taught by Kirsten Kaschock, an assistant teaching professor of English at Drexel and author of three books of poetry: “Unfathoms” (Slope Editions), “A Beautiful Name for a Girl” (Ahsahta Press) and “The Dottery” (University of Pittsburgh Press), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for poetry from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Her debut novel, “Sleight,” a work of speculative fiction, was published by Coffee House Press in 2011. She has earned doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia in English and from Temple University in dance, and has taught creative writing at the University of Georgia, the University of the Arts, Muhlenberg College and St. Lawrence University.
Another “Insider Access” workshop, “From Clothes to Customs: Finding Your Stories,” will be held in the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design (3501 Market St., Philadelphia) on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. from April 25- June 13 (no class May 23 for Memorial Day).
“Objects such as clothing and accessories offer doorways into stories."
“Objects such as clothing and accessories offer doorways into stories,” said Eve. “They can inspire ideas for characters and insights into what characters yearn for, fear and represent. In settings, too—places in time—we can find rich story resources, including containers that help determine how characters will strive and struggle. In this workshop, writers will discover the power of objects and settings to elicit their own profound stories.”
During a tour of the collection, participants will react and respond to items, engaging with them through writing exercises both in and out of class. Specific writing skills focused on in this workshop will include finding characters and unfolding their stories.
“From Clothes to Customs: Finding Your Stories” will be taught by Janet Benton, a writer, editor and teacher of writing with three decades of experience. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College and a master of fine arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has taught writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the University of California, Davis, the University of the Arts and Temple University. Her fiction was nominated for 2013 and 2014 Pushcart Prizes. Benton’s nonfiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, the New York Times and other publications. She has served as script consultant, series consultant and co-writer for Emmy-winning historical documentaries.
About Nomi Eve
Called “a storyteller of uncommon energy and poise” by the New York Times, Nomi Eve is the author of “The Family Orchard” (Knopf, 2000), which was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection and was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. She has a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing from Brown University and has worked as a freelance book reviewer for The Village Voice and New York’s Newsday. Her stories have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, The Voice Literary Supplement, Conjunctions and The International Quarterly. She is currently a lecturer in the creative writing program at Bryn Mawr College.
In August 2014, Eve published her second novel, “Henna House” (Scribner, 2014), which was named as this year’s selection for One Book One Jewish Community, the largest community-wide Jewish literacy program in the country, a project of Jewish Learning Venture. “Henna House” will be released in paperback in August 2015. Eve also recently launched a “100 Book Club Challenge” — an effort to visit 100 different book clubs across the globe, in person or via Skype – to talk about her most recent book. The Huffington Post covered her challenge here. Eve is planning to write a book about her book club experiences.