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Object As Subject // In-person

Writing inspired by what you hold

Object As Subject // In-person

If your house were on fire and your loved ones were safe, you’d hastily spend a minute grabbing some random sentimental objects on your way out the door. All of us feel deep connections to some of the plainest objects in our lives: vinyl records, works of art, shoes, chairs, and so on. The image of these daily or popular items is often considered fodder for poetry, but it can also be a rich source of inspiration in prose. Creative nonfiction doesn’t have to be limited only to things that happen; it can also be about a thing you hold in your hand. An object is a great subject!

This workshop will guide you through different ways of writing about the objects that speak to you. Whether you want to sing the praises of a pair of sunglasses for an entire essay or just hone in on the finer points of a hubcap in a tale about something else entirely, this session has tools that will help bring the words you need to the objects you love.

  • LEARN how to research using the foundations of journalistic writing
  • EXAMINE the ideas that your object represents, and
  • BEGIN writing your story

On-site participants will have the opportunity to workshop for peer and instructor feedback. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019
1 pm - 4:30 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended.
The workshop is limited to 16 students.

Requirements for on-site participants: Bring an object, or photo of an object,  that will serve as the focus of your writing.

$25 if registered by 5/27/2019 
$35 if registered after 5/27/2019

Can't join us in Pittsburgh? There's a webinar option available as well. 

Schedule Overview:



Just the Facts: We will begin by looking at your object objectively. Using the basic principles of lede-writing in journalism, we’ll determine the “who, what, when, where, how, and why” for your object.

How and Why Again: Next we will explore the deeper story of your object. In thinking about the context of objects, most are the result of some sort of design, for example—some objects are made by machines, others by people, others by nature. Some objects have a clear purpose or physical use; others are more for contemplation or appreciation. What can you know about your object, and what is unknowable?

Make It Mine: After understanding your object in reality and in theory, we’ll integrate it back into our lives. You’ll work on telling the story of how this object came into your life and why it has mattered, focusing on how it makes you feel.

The presentation will end with Q & A.


Make It Somebody Else’s: We’ll put the object back out into the world by examining how others talk about it, and about objects, generally. You’ll work on forming a dialogue with what else has been said about your object, as well as get comfortable with and try adopting some iconic voices and stylistic devices from other writers whose work has focused on objects.

All Things Are One Thing: Finally, we will reflect on how to combine all the elements we’ve discussed into  our newly enriched sense of voice. Participants will practice some traditionally poetic techniques of cutting and splicing, then craft transitions that will help smooth out all the bits we’ve drafted into one coherent piece of writing. We’ll celebrate by presenting and workshopping the finished products as a whole group.

Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

The lower level of our workshop and gallery space is wheelchair accessible. Free on-street parking is available.

Doors open at 12 pm, event begins at 1 pm. Snacks, coffee & tea will be provided.

Megan Volpert is the author of many books on popular culture, including two Lambda Literary Award finalists and an American Library Association honoree. She has been teaching high school English in Atlanta for over a decade and was 2014 Teacher of the Year. She writes for PopMatters and has edited anthologies of philosophical essays on the music of Tom Petty and the television series RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email our director of education, Sharla Yates, at Yates@creativenonfiction.org.

Sunday, June 9, 2019, 4:00 - 6:00 PM, join Megan Volpert for her reading at our neighborhood bookstore, White Whale Bookstore.