Teaching

Kathryn Aalto has taught a range of university-level courses for more than 25 years. These include Creative Nonfiction, Critical Thinking, Research Papers,  and American Literature of Nature and Place at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Western Washington University, Everett Community College and the University of Plymouth. She co-founded the Rural Writing Institute with author James Rebanks, and has taught at Winchester Writers’ Conference, Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, and more.

The Art of Creative Nonfiction. Known by many names, Creative, Narrative or Literary Nonfiction is the fastest-growing area in publishing. It joins in-depth research with character-driven storytelling that can read like a novel. True stories told well, creative nonfiction is compelling, fact-based story-telling. To the purpose of journalism, the genre embraces a range of approaches: narrative presence, scene of place, enhanced dialogue, crafted language, creative structure, parallel narratives, and more.  Apply key storytelling techniques that hook the reader’s imagination to make nonfiction come alive. Kathryn provides an overview of the genre, insightful exercises to help find your own voice and ways to revise your current writing projects. Leave the course inspired to develop new or existing ideas in a style that is distinctively your own. Full, half-day, or week-long creative nonfiction seminars available.

Research for Writers. Nothing beats writing that transports readers to another place and time. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, details shoot writing into the stratosphere with spot-on jargon and irreplaceable authenticity.  Research is the process of looking at documented content outside the self — articles, books, interviews, guided travel, archival footage, along with physical immersion — and is anything that introduces external accountability to writing.  Research does not need to take a backseat to imagination, but can be a writer’s engine and tool: the pursuit of detail and authenticity can drive and shape narratives and a writer’s outlook. Kathryn’s books and essays are steeped in research. She has retraced the final footsteps of the plant hunter David Douglas in Hawaii. She has climbed Scafell Pike in search of vantage points seen by Dorothy Wordsworth. She has participated in the World Poohsticks Championships in England. From handling 19th-century plant specimens to reading centuries-old, first-edition books, intersecting with history through primary sources is fundamental to sparking new insights for her writing. Learn how research can provide you with boundaries, give your narrative form, and establish authority.

Nature Writing Workshop. One of the most distinctive genres in American literature, nature writing is also one of its oldest traditions. In this workshop, Kathryn provides an introduction to the beating heart of nature writing — the personal essay and the importance of the first-person narrative in nature writing.  She introduces you to the subgenres of the field — natural history, garden writing, personal meditations, country and farm life, biography, and environmental writing in the Anthropocene — to harness your subject, your angle, and your voice.  Often best paired with an outdoor walks (botanic garden, trails, garden), the workshop includes reflective writing and group discussion. This workshop can have a focus for all-women’s clubs or groups.  Half-day or full-day workshop.

Mentoring I: Finding Your Path. Kathryn mentors emerging creative nonfiction writers in Britain and the United Kingdom.  As a former mentor for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a lecturer in creative nonfiction, she provides expert guidance, provides critical readings of |drafts, offers custom exercises and reflective exercises, and is available for in-depth discussions of work-in-progress on Skype.  Contact Kathryn for more information developing your essay, long-form journalism, or book with her expertise.

Mentoring II: Presenting Yourself. Even brilliant writers and academics can lose sight of the importance of storytelling in author readings and lectures. Stage fright can hijack good preparation.  Learn how to craft an engaging talk for author readings while staying composed in front of crowds. Fiction or nonfiction — learn key techniques for audience engagement, practice mindful and calming exercises, and practice your presentation via Skype, that promotes rather detracts from your writing.  Drawing on her knowledge of creative nonfiction and the craft of oral storytelling, Kathryn has developed a reputation as an outstanding public speaker. She travels widely giving talks at American and British museums, universities, botanic gardens and garden clubs including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Cambridge Universities as well as the New York Public Library, the Natural History Museum of Houston, and the Virginia Book Festival.