Published March 12, 2022

Matthew Salesses (Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping) discusses the elements of writing, examining the traditional workshop established for white male writers to rethink craft and the teaching of it, to reach writers with diverse backgrounds and to invite diverse storytelling traditions. In conversation that can benefit writers and readers, with Helon Habila.

Watch the video from this event:

“Salesses is clearly a generous instructor, willing to share ideas for syllabus design, grading techniques and writing exercises. He brings to this work many years of experience as a writer and professor, along with palpable frustration at what he has witnessed or endured in these roles . . . Craft in the Real World is a significant contribution to discussions of the art of fiction and a necessary challenge to received views about whose stories are told, how they are told and for whom they are intended.” —Laila Lalami, The New York Times Book Review

“This book is for any engaged reader, as it illustrates the impact of dominant cultural narratives on how we create and judge fiction . . . Delivered epiphany after epiphany.” —John Warner, Chicago Tribune

“The world has changed, and the writing workshop must catch up. An essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in creative writing, Salesses’ text provides a compassionate approach sure to bring a new generation of authentic voices to the page.” —BookPage, starred review

Community partners

Thanks to Watershed Lit: Center for Literary Engagement and Publishing Practice for hosting this event.

This event is presented as part of the 2022 Virginia Festival of the Book’s Virginia Writing & Publishing series, hosted by these writing centers and organizations across Virginia: 1455 Literary Arts, James River Writers, The Muse Writers Center, Randolph College MFA, Watershed Lit: Center for Literary Engagement and Publishing Practice, and WriterHouse.


Virginia Festival of the Book staff, volunteers, partners, and attendees appreciate all of our sponsors. It is their crucial support, along with individual donors, that allows us to present the 2022 Virginia Festival of the Book almost completely free of charge. We appreciate the generous commitment from our Premier Sponsor, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and these major sponsors: Michelle and David Baldacci, Dominion Energy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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