DISQUIET is excited to present Disquieting Dialogues, an ongoing series of dynamic online craft talks and close readings. All paid events in the series will include a Q&A period and incorporate writing prompts and/or exercises.
Online events will take place on Zoom unless otherwise specified. You’ll receive instructions for how to join shortly before the event. If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
A Collapse of the Real: The Unsettling and the Uncanny with Brian Evenson
What makes writing unsettling? How can you get readers to feel off balance as they read your work, and why would you want to? In this session we’ll look closely at some of the techniques that writers use to create a sensation in their readers that the ground is crumbling under their feet. We’ll look at how certain writers begin with a familiar situation and then subtly make it feel uncomfortable, threatening, or downright wrong. We’ll think about what these writers gain by fracturing reality, and how they pass the intensity of their characters’ disorientation along to readers. We’ll apply these tools to your own work in a two-part writing exercise as well.
Everything But Plot: Building Suspense on the Line Level with T Kira Madden
The Craft of Revision with Maaza Mengiste
Saturday, Feb 20 4-6PM EST
Goodbye story, hello revision
$150 | Closed
Saturday, March 20 4-6 PM EST
Terms like surrealism and magical realism are most often used to describe works of fiction, but what about the inherent magic and time travel of our true, lived experiences? In this generative session, we will discuss alternate realities, hypothetical what if’s and ways of perhapsing into the surreality of our everyday lives. We will focus on isolation and compression, and on finding the narrative heat and emotional potency in our memories, our selves, and all the selves we’ve been. We’ll talk magical objects, the electricity of sensory experiences, and forge new pathways and connections between seemingly disparate thoughts. The scaffolding behind short published work (sent in advance) will serve as blueprints for our discussion and in class writing exercises.
$90 | Closed
Saturday, April 17 4-5:30 PM EDT
New York Times Bestselling author George Saunders’ new book, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, takes readers on a sweeping craft journey through seven classic Russian short stories. In this talk Saunders, in conversation with Jeff Parker, walks participants through another iconic Russian short story, “My First Goose” by Isaac Babel. Participants will have the opportunity for Q&A after the talk, and the session will include writing prompts and/or exercises to propel participants’ work forward and immediately apply what’s been learned.
$50 | Closed
Saturday, May 1 4-5:30 EDT
How is a character who drinks a cup of chamomile tea different from a character who drinks a mimosa from one who sips coffee with pet milk? Starting with Stuart Dybek’s classic short story “Pet Milk,” Chang-rae Lee will walk us through the power of the right detail and engage with some of those questions that haunt us all. How many details does a reader need? How do I know when I’ve provided too many? And when do I know when I’ve struck upon the right one? Chang-rae will also discuss his short piece “My Father’s Face,” published in The New Yorker in 2018, to explore further the relationship between detail and character. In the end, we’ll come to a greater understanding of how to make choices and, even better, what to add or leave in the editing process. This will be an interactive, conversational session, so please come with your questions and writing materials ready!
$90 | Closed
Sunday, July 11 – 3-5 PM EDT
It’s easy to think of research as an activity that happens when we write about other people’s lives, or archives as places we visit when we’re writing about people who are famous and/or dead, but the truth is we all have vast personal archives already at our disposal: old diaries, cell phone photos and videos, email and text threads, voice memos. In this craft session, we’ll be discussing how to excavate and activate these personal archives to grant emotional nuance and visceral texture to our writing; to complicate the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. A text thread can help you remember the rhythms of banter that used to structure a friendship, or a random cell phone photo can summon the coffee shop you used to frequent at a job you hated; old recipe emails from a CSA can evoke the bittersweet last days of living with a former partner. We’ll be thinking about how personal archives can prove fruitful to all kinds of writing–not only personal essays and memoir, but fiction and poetry as well. We’ll close read a few texts that draw upon personal archives in illuminating ways, do a few brainstorming exercises together, and engage in a broader conversation about how to draw upon the layers of information and history we already have in our phones, hard drives, email accounts, and notebooks. How can these archives teach us about the messiness of our own emotional experiences, the sly deceptions of memory, and the layers of profundity that dwell inside “ordinary” daily life?
$90 | Closed
Saturday, August 14 – 4-6 PM EDT
I’ve discovered after four (well, maybe five) experiences of writing book-length prose that for me long fiction or nonfiction is a cumulative affair. One easy stab, the moonlit beginning and then the rest is a protracted, agonizing and fun studio affair. I read things that give me sudden surges of insight into what it is I think I’m doing and then I probably do the opposite. I discover that something I’ve written elsewhere can slide right in. I decide it’s a bible, a shrine, a secret detective novel. Altogether the act of writing a book, even a little book is a messy process that finds its own logic, I think through a dedication to play and not minding being bewildered as any traveller would be at times in order to get to someplace good. You probably need to be a poet to write prose. So we’ll look at some passages that feel like fertile leaps to me, I promise we will read a poem and I will tell you about some of my own slogs, even sharing about the one I’m in and you will definitely write something while we’re together. We can decide collectively whether to share it or not. Maybe we’ll draw straws.
$90 | Closed
Saturday, December 18, 4 PM EST – ???
DISQUIET is all about place. And while the place we’re all about has traditionally been Lisbon, we know that most writers spend most of the time in their places, writing. The pandemic got us thinking: What if we visited some writers of note and asked them to show us their environs? GK Chesterton once described the act of art making as the creation of worlds in which the artists would wish to wander, the landscapes of their dreams, their own secret planets. What would we learn about writers and their work when welcomed to the landscapes of their dreams? Where do they wish to wander and what unexpected things might we find there? It’s taken us a bit longer than we hoped to make this idea a reality, but now we’d like to welcome you to the first of these events, a Christmas visit to Padgett Powell’s secret planet.
Padgett Powell has taught twice at Disquiet. Upon the publication last month of Indigo, his new book of essays, the NYT called him “a giant lurking on the margins of American literature, about to stomp back into the spotlight and reclaim his crown.” Special correspondent Shane Hinton, author of Pinkies and editor of the anthology We Can’t Help It If We’re From Florida, will visit Powell at his home outside Gainesville, Florida, for an unscripted conversation and tour. Powell recently retired after a long career teaching creative writing at the University of Florida. His house was partially submerged during Hurricane Irma in 2017. He lives with his dog Johnny Hamm and recently acquired a puppy.
FREE | Closed
Saturday, February 5, 4 PM EST – ???
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, give or take a week, DISQUIET Special Correspondent Shane Hinton will join author Kristen Arnett (Mostly Dead Things, With Teeth) at a still-to-be-determined Florida location to talk writing and maybe enjoy a few snacks. We don’t know exactly what we’ll get from this live conversation, but we expect it to be good. Like a box of chocolates, only free and on Zoom.