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Beauty in Brevity: Art of the Short Essay – G1910211

Workshop ID: G1910211
Dates: October 6 - October 12
Price: $675.00 - $1,195.00

Single supplement is not available for this retreat. A well-crafted short essay is intimate, heartfelt, and moving. It combines the narrative flow of fiction, the concise quality of lyric poetry, and the emotional power of song. Creating the short essay can employ the research skills of a journalist, the critical eye of an editor, and the performance techniques of a storyteller. In this workshop, we’ll explore a few of the many inspirations for short essays—from childhood memories to pet peeves to passionate beliefs. You’ll hear essays from some masters of the art; gather ideas by using writing prompts; shape free writing into essays; read aloud, and revise rough drafts until they’re polished jewels. We’ll also discuss the short essay as performance—for readings, radio, or podcasts.


Package Price
All Inclusive, Double Occupancy: Communal Bath$1,195.00
Camping RV$835.00
Camping w/Electricity$795.00
Rio Arriba Commuter$675.00
Colleen Anderson

Colleen Anderson is a graphic designer, writer, and singer/songwriter who lives in West Virginia. Her interest in paper art and craft dates back to childhood, but she became a dedicated origami enthusiast about 15 years


Download and Print Welcome Letter Anderson – Beauty in Brevity

Beauty in Brevity: Art of the Short Essay

Instructor: Colleen Anderson

Start Date: 10/6/19, End Date: 10/12/19

Check-In Begins at 3:00pm at the Welcome Center on 10/6/19. Dinner 5:30 – 6:30; Orientation 6:45 pm


Welcome! Although I have written in many forms (short story, children’s novel, poetry, and travel writing), the short essay is my favorite. For years before I began writing essays, I loved hearing the “commentaries” on National Public Radio. One winter, because of a snowstorm that shut down a writers conference, I had the good luck to spend an entire day with one of my favorite commentators, Donald McCaig – and he generously agreed to listen to and critique my first few attempts at essay writing. I was hooked! In my class, I’ll try to pass along McCaig’s wisdom as well as what I have learned from years of writing short essays for my state’s public radio network. In our week together, you’ll find your own wellspring, write daily, and get some gentle coaching about how to turn your rough drafts into essays that can engage and move your readers or listeners.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Expect to write daily, both in our morning class and during the afternoons.
  • Expect to hear some elegant and moving essays – some I have collected to share with you, some
  • from your peers in our workshop.
  • Expect gentle coaching, but no harsh critiques.
  • Expect to laugh, and perhaps to be moved to tears, by the writing you hear and create.
  • Leave with the tools to write and edit an essay that’s compelling and moving.

Course Schedule: We will meet in the mornings, from about 9:00 a.m. to noon. Each morning, I will read examples of some wonderful essays I have collected – some from well-known writers and some from people who have participated in my workshops. You’ll share your own writing, and we’ll discuss your work. Near the end of each session, I’ll give you a prompt, and you’ll come to the next morning’s session with a new piece of writing to share with the group.

Instructor Background: I’m one of those people who can’t be contented with one vocation: I’m a writer, a graphic designer, a singer-songwriter, and an origami enthusiast. For a number of years, I wrote semi-monthly essays for the West Virginia Public Radio network, two of which won national awards from Public Radio New Directors Incorporated. My other publications include a children’s novel, a travel guide to my state of West Virginia, and a poetry chapbook. Please visit my website,, to learn more.

Provided Materials: There won’t be a course materials fee. The only essential supplies are paper and pen or pencil. Most participants will choose to bring a laptop or tablet for writing, but it’s not essential. You may want to bring a notebook and your favorite writing implement, but I’ll also bring plenty of paper and some extra pencils. Ghost Ranch has public computers you may use for typing and printing, as well.

What to Bring: A notebook for writing, Your favorite writing implement, Your laptop or tablet (optional)

FAQs: Q: I’m a beginning writer. Is this class right for me? A: Yes. This workshop is accessible to both beginners and accomplished writers. We will learn from one another, but I do not give or tolerate harsh critiques in my workshops.

Q: How short is a short essay? A: My definition of a short essay is quite brief: a piece can that be read aloud in two or three minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much power can be packed into that little package.

Testimonials: “The week at Ghost Ranch changed my way of looking at life. I now write for comfort, pleasure and to share stories with my children and friends.” – Barbara Tarka Leonard

“Thank you for sharing your mentoring gifts with compassion, clarity, and joy. Thank you for helping me find and trust my voice.” – Jan Meyer

Recommended Resources: If you want to read some wonderful short essays, I’d recommend “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women,” edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman and published, in association with NPR, by Holt. Brevity, a journal of short nonfiction writing, is another fine place to explore:

Please note that our workshop price structure packages your tuition, course materials, lodging and meals together in a single rate. Prices are presented for each of the types of lodging available for the workshop you select. Some art workshops will have an additional list of course materials and supplies that can be purchased or you will be asked to bring with you.
  • Note:  Some courses (especially studio courses and plein air painting courses) can carry an additional material list or expense.
All rates are Per Person, Double Occupancy unless otherwise specified. Single Occupancy: Single occupancy rooms may be reserved for an additional $50 per night when space is available. The fee will be charged when space is confirmed. Single occupancy lodging is generally not available during June and July. If you are a single person and do not specify a roommate, a roommate of the same gender will be assigned to share your lodging space or you can request the single occupancy and be charged the supplement of an additional $50 per night (based on availability). For more information or if you would like to attend this workshop, but do not need lodging, please call the Registrar's Office at 505.685.1001 or 505.685.1001 ext 4155 or toll-free at 877.804.4678 — available SundayFriday8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. MST.

Three ways to register:

  1. Download printable registration form and mail to: Ghost Ranch Registrar, 280 Private Drive 1708, Abiquiu, NM 87510. OR scan and email your completed form to:
  2. Register by telephone at 505.685.1001 or 505.685.1017 or toll-free at 877.804.4678, ext. 4155 or ext. 4121 — available Monday-Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. MST.
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