Writing Delight!

Accessing Joy, Pleasure, and Beauty Through Attention and Reflection



About the Course: In this class, we will write delight. Delight, joy, and pleasure—especially in our time—are forms of resistance. We need access to these in order to go out into the world and do our work. In this six-week writing class, we will examine texts like Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights and adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism, writings that call on us to bring our attention to that which brings us joy. It’s an old adage, wise and true, that we can’t pour from an empty cup. In this class, we will explore through writing how we access joy, what inspires us, and what beauty and wisdom arrives at the end of challenging experiences. I’m not talking about superficiality. I’m not talking about ignoring the suffering inherent in life and our world. I’m talking about finding beauty, pleasure, and joy in the midst of all that is hard. I’m talking about teaching ourselves to dwell in the possible, in our storytelling and in our lives. We’ll spend time considering elements of craft, but the class will be very playful in nature. In and outside the classroom, we’ll engage in delight practices that allow us to connect with the beauty of our lives and our world. We’ll pay attention. We’ll be curious. We’ll listen to our inner children. We’ll explore, together, what brings us joy and write into that uplift. 


The Details

When:  Six Tuesdays: October 15, 22, 29; Nov 5, 12, 19 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. 

Where: Workshop held at the Kore Press Institute, 325 W 2nd St (in the Dunbar Pavillion)

Cost: $275

Note: This class will be capped at 12 participants so register soon to reserve your spot.

Course Text: Ross Gay, The Book of Delights (please purchase prior to the first day of class). All other texts will be supplied. 


Register Here!


Behind the Class: As often happens, I am drawn to teach the classes I myself crave. I’ve been reading and thinking and reflecting so much on joy, pleasure, and beauty. Without stories of beauty and redemption, we can’t balance the stories of pain, in our lives and in our world. When all we see is suffering, we become shrouded and begin to shrivel. In one of my previous classes, a student said to me, “Did you intentionally plan all these texts to be about one grief or another?” It wasn’t a criticism. It was an observation. The truth was that I hadn’t planned that. They were texts that spoke to me, their conflicts so visceral and immediate, in content and craft. But that student’s question also set me on a path of reflection that ultimately led to this class. We need all the stories: ones of grief and grace, ones of the grotesque and the gorgeous, ones that tell of failure and triumph, ones cracking with hard edges and ones crafting experiences of deep, pervasive beauty. 


About LisaLisa M. O’Neill is a writer, writing teacher, and creativity usher. A native New Orleanian and current desert dweller, Lisa received her MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Arizona, where she taught writing in the English Department for a decade. She writes essays, journalism articles, and think pieces, and she teaches online and in-person writing workshops and works individually with writers, helping them discover and usher their stories onto the page. She also teaches writing with students at juvenile detention and at the Arizona State Prison. She was a regular contributor to Edible Baja Arizona and received first place in Community Food and Beverage Reporting from the Arizona Press Club for 2015. Her July 2017 piece for B*tch Media was featured in the New York Times “What We’re Reading” list. More writing has been published in Diagram, defunct, drunken boat, GOOD, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, Salon, The Feminist Wire, Talk Poverty, The Washington Post, and Terrain.org, among others









Words from Students: 


Lisa, the time I spent in your class was such a gift. You have such charm and wit, and an adeptness in the way you conjured writing out of me, by presenting thought-provoking short prompts or helping me see the possibility in connecting two unrelated ideas or types or sorts or breeds of things. In class, I admired your calm demeanor, the way you offered forth heartfelt respect for each student’s perspective, and gently guided the discussions in productive directions to enable us all to write more and better while learning from you and one another. I came away with places to start for new writing as well as more a fully-formed essay that would not be where it is without you having shepherded it along. A really wholehearted thank you. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again in the future.

—Holly Gardner

I recently had the good fortune to work with Lisa in a six-week writing workshop, which I found to be a rewarding opening to a meaningful exploration of the things in the world that I want to be observing and documenting.  Lisa’s approach combines an impressive understanding of the written word in its many forms, a gentle sense of humor, nurturing and open hearted facilitation, and a a deep reverence for the power of writing to connect us with our deeper selves.  I hope to have the opportunity to with Lisa again as I continue to explore the role of writing in my life!

—Dan Kruse

“The class, “Where I’m From,” was both fun and inspirational. Lisa selected readings in a wide variety of styles that enriched our own writing and discussion. Our class discussions were lively and recognized everyone in the group. I hope to take more classes with Lisa.”

—Christine Baines

“I highly recommend any class or workshop taught by Lisa. You can be assured her curriculum will be strong, her homework assignments challenging, and her writing prompts will jump start your creative juices. Best of all, is the warm and supportive atmosphere Lisa creates that allows everyone to always freely and safely express themselves. And isn’t that what a true artist is devoted to?”

—Tony DiRusso

“The environment that you created was so supportive, thoughtful, and challenging that I found myself growing in each class–as a reader, as a participant of the writing community that emerged, as a writer, and as a person. I left not only feeling that I had gotten great practice and feedback on my writing, but also that I was more able to affirm the relevance of the questions I am asking, which is a gift that has gone far beyond this class. The feedback you provided, the readings you assigned, and the way you facilitated the course made all of these things possible in ways that far exceeded any expectations I had.”

—Katie Sharar

“I’m looking forward to taking another class with Lisa. Her teaching style is informed, enthusiastic and relaxed. The level of participation in discussion and completing assignments was one of the highest I’ve seen in a class. Lisa made it impossible to fail or feel slighted. She kept us excited about the content of the class. It was fun and productive. I think we were all pleased with the writing we produced – and how often can that be said about a class?”

—Student, anonymous evaluation

“This was a delightful class to attend and I can’t thank Lisa enough for the growth it encouraged in my writing, and in my appreciation of others. Lisa was an instructor who gave the class her full attention from the first class to the last. A great gift to her students.”

—Student, anonymous evaluation