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Man vs. The Machine: The Influence of Work on Our Writing

“The machine invades me all day,” says receptionist Sharon Atkins in Studs Terkel’s collection of oral histories Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974).

In this generative fiction workshop, we consider and embrace the influence of work on our writing. “Work” is defined individually, but for the purpose of this class includes anything requiring our paid and unpaid labor.

In-class prompts and exercises focus on the writing process, including constraints, and aim to encourage unselfconscious bursts of creativity. We will maintain a manageable daily word count with the goal of accumulating new writing. We will read every day. Assigned readings span styles and genres, and much of it will engage in some way with work, especially the language thereof. Representative readings include excerpts from the novels The Ask by Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Scanlan’s Kick the Latch, Manuel Gonzales’ The Regional Office is Under Attack!, Raven Leilani's Luster, and Hilary Leichter’s Temporary, and the short stories “Lab Coats” by Yoko Ogawa, Emily Hunt Kivel’s “The Juggler’s Wife,” Yukiko Motoya's "Fitting Room," Lucia Berlin’s “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” Kathleen Collins’ “Documentary Style,” Kate Folk’s “Moist House,” and George Saunders’ “CivilWarLand In Bad Decline.”

In addition to assigned readings and writing, we will have frank and honest discussions about finding (or stealing) time to write, calling ourselves writers even if we do not or cannot make a living from it, and living as best we can a fulfilling literary life. While there are no restrictions on what a participant may write—be it genre or work on existing projects—this is an opportunity for writers to try new things and take creative risks in a safe and supportive environment.
Instructor: Michael Credico is the author of Heartland Calamitous (Autumn House Press), which was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection and The 2021 Story Prize. His writing has appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Collagist, Columbia Journal, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hobart, New Ohio Review, NOÖ Journal, Puerto del Sol, Quarterly West, and others. He has received an Individual Excellence Award in Literature from the Ohio Arts Council. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where he is working on a novel about the Great Lakes.  


Details: Man vs. The Machine: The Influence of Work on Our Writing takes place Thursdays July 13, July 20, July 27, August 3, August 10, and August 13 from 7:00-9:00pm online remotely via Zoom.

Prerequisites: None

Genre: Fiction

Level: All levels

Format: Reading and generative workshop  

Location: This class takes place online remotely via Zoom.

Size: Limited to 12 participants (including scholarships).

Scholarships: Two scholarship spots are available for this class for writers in Northeast Ohio. Apply by April 24.

Cancellations & Refunds: Cancel at least 48 hours in advance of the first class meeting to receive a full refund. Email

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NEW: As part of our ongoing efforts to make programs and classes more inclusive and accessible, we are now collecting voluntary demographic information during the registration process. The following information is entirely voluntary and will remain anonymous. It will only be used in aggregate to assess and improve services and inclusive practices to ensure we are serving our entire community equitably. Thank you!

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