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MB Alumni: Nancy Chilton

nancycdhilton.jpgWhat class did you take?
I took MB’s Personal Essay Boot Camp with Steve Friedman this summer.
Output: Article in the New York Observer.
What did you learn?
The 8 week class began with writing exercises that focused on inspiration, voice and technique. Then we all brought in marketable story ideas that we teamed up to pitch Steve who played the EIC heavy.
He helped us ID the best ideas from the dross, and then had us write pitches to specific editors who might run our pieces. For the last class, we wrote and workshopped our most marketable idea. Mine was a piece I’d started writing months before about buying a fur coat at the J. Mendel sample sale, only to have my husband tell me to sell it on Ebay.
How the class helped me do what I did:
I used techniques I’d learned in class, like writing about a sensation without naming it, to juice up the piece. Steve did some great on-the-spot editing that night. I went home at 10 pm, did the rewrite, sent it to the NY Observer the next afternoon, and had an acceptance by the following morning. The piece ran two weeks later.
Steve was an honest, creative teacher who helped me tackle my problem with endings, clean up nebulous descriptions and amp up conflict in my stories. The other writers in the class were generous in sharing their talent and suggestions.

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