FALL 2019

Workshops and readings from October through December 2019

Reading and Writing the Personal Essay 

Six-week workshop on reading, writing and discussion of the personal essay. Wednesday afternoons. 1-3 pm. October 16 – November 20. Skokie. $250.

“Writing for Self Discovery: Making Art from Life”

In this four-week workshop, we will read selections from published essays and memoirs and discuss how these reflect the writer’s life. Using writing prompts and gentle, encouraging feedback, we’ll find out how to do this on our own. This workshop is designed to inspire beginning writers and those returning to the page after a long break.

Four week workshop. Monday nights from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. October 7-28. $150. Ice House Gallery, Evanston. Register here. 

StoryStudio Chicago

“Truth in Memoir”

If you are writing a memoir or a personal essay, you are relying on the truth as you remember it. But what is the definition of truth when the memories may be many years  – even decades – old? How accurate do we need to be? What is close enough?

Like fiction writers who may not know their story’s end but allow the characters to steer it, the nonfiction writer knows the story arc but may not recall every detail, setting or piece of dialogue. We’ll talk about ways to write personal narrative that stays true to the story without knowing.

In this single-session class, we’ll look at what goes into constructing scenes, the decisions about details, ways to handle time and dialogue that help get as close to the truth of a story’s characters and themes without “making things up.” Ellen Blum Barish will guide participants through these elements with examples from published personal essays and memoir as well as from her own essays and memoir. This class will include short readings, discussion and Q & A.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019. 6:30- 9 pm.


Reading at Fresh Meat 

An evening reading-performance-workshop curated by the very talented Scott Whitehair.

I’ll be reading from my memoir on Sunday, November 10 at The Celtic Knot at 8 pm.



Looking for a lively speaker with engaging content on writing to present at your next event? Let’s talk about ways I can inspire your audience to write from their lives, whether it’s getting started, keeping it going or knowing when the work is done.

I have presented interactive presentations, workshops and courses at Northwestern University, North Park University, Dominican Universities, Columbia College Chicago, Elmhurst College and Oakton Community College and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

I have also facilitated workshops presentations at Story Studio Chicago, Off Campus Writers Workshop, Ragdale, Lighthouse Writers Studio, The Women’s Exchange, Writers Workspace, New Trier Extension, Skokie Public Library and Beth Emet The Free Synagogue.

Topics have included:

“Essay as Song: What the Essayists Can Learn from the Songwriters”

“Writing Wrongs”

“Writing for Personal Discovery: Making Art from Life”

“The Power of Personal Narrative”

“Identifying Your Writer’s Voice”

“Reading and Writing the Personal Essay”

“Writing What Matters Most”

“So That Your Values Live On: Writing Your Ethical Will”

“Writing the Spiritual Essay”

“Writing Family Secrets”

I am also happy to customize a presentation for your group’s unique interests. Email me at so that we can schedule a time to talk about it!


Want to learn more about how you can benefit from one-to-one writing coaching?  See the Coaching page of this site or email me at


Winter Writing Workshop in the Woods, Glencoe

Saturday, January 14, 2017

“Mamapalooza” at Bookends & Beginnings Bookstore, Evanston, Illinois, May 8, 2016  with authors Michele Weldon and Nina Barrett

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Chicago Jewish Authors Series at Max & Benny’s, February 2015



Thread: The Live Lit Reading Series, April 2016

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Story Sessions at The City Winery, October 2015


Story Sessions, July 2014

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“Stories from the House of Truth,” Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, June 18, 2015


Story Sessions photos by Jill Howe