Extraordinary Embodiment

Writing Chronic Illness and Disability

Extraordinary Embodiment


Illness and disability are universal human experiences, but too often these experiences are narrowly categorized into either medical freak show stories or “inspirational” narratives. 

These constraints can shut down our creative work, self-reflection, and inquiry into our experience. And they leave too many stories untold.

This day-long workshop will begin by addressing clichés for writing about the body, chronic illness, and disability, then dive into how you can successfully write into and against those expectations. You’ll leave this workshop with a greater understanding of voice and the value of a narrator; strategies for incorporating technical research into your writing; fresh material and writing prompts; and personalized peer feedback on your work.

Plus, participants will:

  • Receive links to pre-workshop readings that will help us have richer discussions on the day of the workshop;
  • Evaluate the current structures and voices found in illness and disability narratives to find untold stories;
  • Practice exploratory writing to develop and find your own voice;
  • Share personalized reading recommendations and leave with a curated list of books on writing disability;
  • Reclaim the illness metaphor through writing prompts and review of influential texts including the instructor’s new book Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System.

All workshop participants should bring a two-page sample of a work-in-progress or a finished piece to share in small groups.

*Please note any accessibility needs (including diet, scents, and mobility) when registering. The workshop schedule includes a mid-day break for lunch at area restaurants, but boxed lunches can be provided for a nominal fee and a kitchenette (with refrigerator) is available onsite for packed lunches.


Saturday, August 12th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended for this special Visting Writer Event.
Space is limited for this exclusive day-long workshop.


Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Free on-street parking is available. Doors open at 8 am, event begins at 9 am. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. The lower level of our workshop and gallery space is wheelchair accessible.


Sonya Huber is the author of five books, including three books of creative nonfiction: Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys: Essays from a Nervous System. Her other books include a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers: Using Your Life for Reflection, Connection, and Inspiration and The Evolution of Hillary Rodham ClintonHuber’s work has been published in literary journals and magazines including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post MagazineShe currently teaches in the Department of English at Fairfield University and in the Fairfield Low-Residency MFA Program. Her work won the 2012 Terrain.org Award in Nonfiction and is included in True Stories, Well Told: From the First Twenty Years of Creative Nonfiction; other essay have been named Notable in the Best American Essays 2014 and 2015. She also published an e-book on direct care work with SheBooks, Two Eyes are Never Enough: A Minimum-Wage Memoir.


Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email our events manager, Lauren Boehm, at boehm@creativenonfiction.org.