Joy Castro

Making the Marble: A Generative Workshop for Writers of Memoir and Personal Narratives

Joy Castro
Joy Castro
  • January 7-11, 2024
  • All Levels, $675
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While sculptors can chisel away everything that isn’t the statue, we writers must first make our own “marble”—generate new rough drafts, and plenty of them—before we can chisel away all that isn’t art.

This workshop is geared toward helping you generate new material to draw on as you develop and refine your nonfiction writing. We will use proven prompts and methods that work to elicit new ideas and scenes to use in projects rooted in personal experiences. We’ll explore the possibilities of flash pieces, consider how to structure longer work, and discuss traditional and experimental forms of memoir and personal essay. On the final day you’ll have the opportunity to share one piece aloud, and you’ll leave with at least a half-dozen new drafts to develop.

This class is for writers working on nonfiction material drawn from personal experience. It does not include workshopping of individual submissions. Joy will meet briefly with each student individually at a mutually agreeable time if they wish to do so. You will be provided with some short readings in advance in preparation for class discussions.


  • This is an all-levels workshop.
  • Please submit a cover letter that states your interest in this workshop and gives an overview of your prior workshop experience, if any.
  • The cost is $675. If you are selected to participate in the workshop, a deposit of $300 is required to register, with the balance due by September 30.
  • If you are accepted, you have the option of attending the Keynote on Thursday, January 11, at a reduced price of $150 (we will send you a link upon confirmation). Alternately, you may purchase a ticket to attend the Seminar in full, as it runs after the workshops (January 11 – 14).
  • Financial Assistance is available to those who would not otherwise be able to attend—click here for guidelines and/or to apply for a Workshop Fellowship Award. (Do not submit a regular application if you are requesting financial aid.)
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full.



Award-winning author Joy Castro is the author of the memoir, The Truth Book, called “utterly gripping” by Booklist, and editor of the anthology Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family, as well as the Machete series in literary nonfiction at the Ohio State University Press. She received an International Latino Book Award for her essay collection Island of Bones. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Salon, Afro-Hispanic Review, Seneca Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the New York Times Magazine, among others.

Castro’s most recent novel, One Brilliant Flame, revolves around the 19th Century Cuban insurgency in Key West, and she has written three acclaimed literary thrillers. She is the Willa Cather Professor of Ethnic Studies and English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she directs the Institute for Ethnic Studies.