Special offer: private group courses on crafting personal essays


*6 hours of live teaching and workshopping, arranged to fit your group members’ schedules
*Permanent access to course materials + recordings of meetings
*Email feedback and optional exercises between classes
*Fun-but-focused instructor who’ll send frequent links to fine first-person essays to inspire you
*Flat rate of 350€, whether you’re a pair or a social pod. Potential savings of up to 64% (!) on the regular course price
*Meaningful interactions with friends while the world’s on fire


This course focuses on the underrated and oft-belittled art of the personal essay. Many Serious Literary Types (SLTs) can’t agree on the definition of the form. And thank goodness for that! Imagined blueprints and intimidating rules never helped any would-be writer pick up a pen.

In this globally dreary year, this course celebrates the flexibility and playfulness that first-person writing affords us. Let’s not allow salty SLTs to equate personal essays with diary entries: good first-person writing requires much more craft than catharsis.

Six hours of live class time can be spread out or densely concentrated, according to your group’s needs. You’ll mine your memories for stories, add techniques to your developing-a-narrative toolkit, begin or continue the neverending work of owning your voice, and kill all your darlings (but save them in a Dropbox doc for future revival). You’ll finish the course with a compelling first-person narrative essay*, and will receive appropriate guidance in possible avenues to publication.

*The length we aim for will vary according to your group’s size.


Q: Does my group need to all be in the same house/geographical location/time zone?
A: Nope, none of the above! The only limitation on the group’s makeup is that it’s capped at six participants.

Q: Can I pay through a portal other than PayPal, in a currency other than euro?
A: I wish! Mama isn’t high-tech enough for that yet. Clients are responsible for currency conversion fees. European Union residents are welcome to pay via bank transfer if preferred; contact verymarygray@gmail.com for details.

Q: How flexible is the scheduling? Can the course run on weekends?
A: 1) Very. 2) Yes. At the time of booking, all you need is a general idea of the month or season in which you’d like your lessons to run. Hours can be “locked down” (too soon?) later. You can even opt for a virtual retreat-style setup, in which the whole course runs on a single day or two.

Q: A couple of friends said they’d join me if we can openly sip wine during the lessons. Is that okay with you?
A: I support respectful forms of Zoom sipping between consenting adults.

Q: We’re a group of dudes and this sounds a little girly but we kinda want to do it…
A: Do it!

Q: What makes you qualified to teach this course?
A: Pop on over to the “About Me” section for a succinct biography, to the “Selected Clips” for some articles and essays, or to my LinkedIn profile for details on my professional writing and university-level teaching experience.

Q: I’d like to take the course, but I’d rather meet new people and writing peers. Will that opportunity be available again soon?
A: Yes! Stay tuned for dates on future editions of my public, four-person course “Crafting personal essays that compel (and sell)”. Individual course signups cost 160€.


I really enjoyed this class. It was just the thing I needed right now to get me motivated to write, and it gave me enough information about personal essay writing to get me started in a genre that I was less familiar with. The class size was perfect. Reading and discussing our essays was much less intimidating than it would’ve been with a larger group. I felt lucky to get to work with a group of such smart, talented writers!

“Friendly, charismatic, and knowledgeable instructor. Felt less like a class and more like a guidebook.”

“Gah! I loved this class. It was just what I needed during quarantine. I loved the informal nature and general honesty of teacher and classmates. The small group worked well, I didn’t feel pressure or less than, just that we were all working on a hobby we enjoyed instead of a task that needed to get finished. More writing classes should be like this!!!!”

“I didn’t feel like there was a single wasted minute in this course. The lectures and the workshop portions were really helpful–I learned a lot! All of the feedback I received on my piece was fantastic; getting different perspectives on what worked and what didn’t definitely helped me to write a much better essay than I could’ve alone.”

Special group rate valid through February 14


*P. IVA 06934740488