Writing Your Obsessions

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Taught by Jennifer Mattson

Jennifer Mattson is a former radio producer for "The Connection" and worked as an editor for National Public Radio. She spent over six years as a producer for CNN, where she was responsible for CNN's daily live newscasts and producing CNN's international coverage. Jennifer came to CNN to work in the Washington bureau's political unit during the 1996 U.S. presidential election. She later moved to Atlanta, where she worked first as a writer and then as a newscast producer at CNN International. Prior to joining CNN, Jennifer worked as a reporter based in Budapest, Hungary covering Eastern Europe, where she reported on a number of regional stories for USA TODAY including a piece on George Soros and the Clinton-Yeltsin CSCE Summit. She has also reported, most recently, from Asia. Her work has appeared in TheAtlantic.com, USA TODAY, The Boston Globe, The Women's Review of Books, AsianCorrespondent.com, Tablettalk.com and CNN.com. She is the former Managing Editor of AsiaSociety.org. Follow her on Twitter at @jennifermattson

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Most writers - whether we know it or not - have certain themes with which we’re obsessed. While we’re encouraged to follow our passions, obsessions get a bad wrap. Ignore that. From a writing perspective, the good stuff comes from all those obsessions, details and ideas you’ve been mulling over in your head.

Obsessions are the themes and topics we find ourselves returning to often but don’t know why. That endless circling is what writers do. The themes can be big (love, death, loss, our search for meaning in life or work) or specific events in our lives we just can’t shake (a bad breakup, the death of a parent, our own illness, or a event or person that forever changed our lives.)

In this class, we’ll explore obsessions in literature and our own writing. By the end of class, you’ll come away with a rough first draft of an essay, short story or longer piece that exemplifies something you just can’t stop obsessing about.

Please bring a pen and notebook. If you think you’ll want to switch over to writing on a computer during the class, feel free to also bring a laptop.

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