speaking & retreats
about the speaker:
Laura Pritchett is a mere mortal who will someday die. She’s also the author of five literary novels and the recipient of the PEN USA Award, the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, the High Plains Book Award, the Willa Award, and others. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, Bloom, The Millions, Publisher’s Weekly, The Sun, and others. She holds a PhD from Purdue University and teaches and speaks around the country—as she happily prepares for her death. You can find out more at www.laurapritchett.com or www.makingfriendswithdeath.com
Laura has worked with writers individually as a writing coach for over 20 years--and have had clients go on to get book deals and publish short stories and essays in major publications. Some of that writing coaching is simply getting your life story down on paper. She’s found that folks nearing the end of life particularly want to write, shape, and present (in some form or another) their stories. Whether it's a self-published book for the grandkids, or that novel you've always wanted to write, making peace with death might involve sharing your story.
Indeed, she often asks folks to keep a list of "The Top 10 Things I want to Write Before I Die." This could be a will, or an apology, or a rage against injustice. And sometimes, it's a particular essay or story. The point is to tackle that list now!
"Awful. Horrible. Terrible. All lies that I want to spread so that I can keep the secret that is Laura Pritchett's writing coaching all to myself. After years of struggling through a failed first novel, I threw in the towel and went searching for a professional to help me hone my craft. Enter Laura, and I truly wonder how my writing ever got along without her. Her insightful feedback and constructive criticism have propelled my writing to the next level. Six short stories later, and I've landed an honorable mention in Writer's Digest and have signed a contract for an upcoming anthology. I'm currently working with Laura on my second novel, and with her help, I'm truly ecstatic about where it's headed. Trust me, Laura possesses an uncanny ability to identify issues you would never spot on your own and suggest improvements that will transform your decent story into an exceptional one. In short, there's no substitute for working with a professional like her. Just do me a favor and don't hog all of her time." -- Caleb Stephens (more at www.calebstephensauthor.com)
"In my first endeavor as a writer, I knew that working with a writing coach would be a crucial part of the process and I was lucky enough to find Laura. Without Laura’s guidance, my book would not be what it is today. Her feedback, enthusiasm, and encouragement gave me the tools to turn a loosely connected set of essays into a memoir." -- Allison Synder
One aspect of her review that I found particularly useful was that she not only marked passages that could use improvement, but she also highlighted sentences or passages that were good. It was incredibly helpful to see what I was doing well as I could emulate that in areas that needed improvement. She also called me out on aspects of my writing where I was avoiding uncomfortable or complicated topics. She pushed me to be honest with the reader. Laura is a fantastic teacher, and I will continue to apply the lessons I learned in working with her throughout my writing career.
"I highly recommend Laura Pritchett as a writing coach and content editor. She has taught this former Dartmouth English literature major and business writer how to author an engaging book. The first draft of my memoir was a just-the-facts collection of episodes with clunky dialogue and inconsistent scenes. Two rounds of Laura’s feedback have enabled me to turn that draft into a great plot and meaningful inner journey ready to send to agents. She provides a rare combination of encouragement and helpful feedback, neither falsely positive nor devastatingly critical. She does not write the book for you, she tells you in general terms what you need to do better, and how, and marks examples in the manuscript. Laura is focused on helping people learn to be great writers." -- India Wood
"One week before I turned 63 I found myself celebrating the unexpected acceptance of two stories for publication, one in a magazine and one in our local newspaper. Although publication felt like a birthday present, it was really Laura who gifted me -- with her exceptional coaching that shifted my writing from good enough to worthy of being in the world. Think it is too late, or you are too old, I encourage you to risk falling in love with the written word and writer within -- with Laura as your spirited guide and mentor." -- E. Sciarra
I charge $90 per hour; references available on request.
A book coach ...
can help get that "almost ready" manuscript polished and ready to go
guides you through planning, writing, and publishing, your book
helps you set realistic deadlines and create a schedule for meeting them
works with you on polishing your writing
clarifies available publishing options
Laura Pritchett loves spreadin' the word on a good death and has been teaching creative writing for nearly twenty years. Making Friends with Death classes and workshops include stops in NY, Chicago, Denver, Boulder, Steamboat, and Fort Collins. If you'd like to host a reading or a workshop, please contact Pritchett at firstname.lastname@example.org
description of the available workshops:
Making Friends with Death, A Field Guide for Your Impending Last Breath (and “A Death Prep Cram Session!” Activity)
Please join us for a reading of Laura Pritchett’s newest book, Making Friends with Death, A Field Guide for Your Impending Last Breath (to be read, ideally, before it’s imminent), published by VIVA Editions. Pritchett, well known for her novels set in the contemporary West, leaps into new and exciting territory with this nonfiction/guidebook that’s designed to get us all thinking about the inevitable—even when (and especially when) we’re young, healthy, and not under duress.
The evening will include a short activity designed to jumpstart your exploration into making friends with the not-so-grim Grim Reaper. We’ll broach the sacred and the scary with warmth, humor, and a few wisdoms gleaned from years of research. We expect that you’ll leave thinking of death as more of a potential friend rather than a spooky stranger. And since we can “use death as our advisor,” it might offer a few nuggets on living our best and brightest life, too. We can nearly guarantee that you’ll find yourself laughing, even as you contemplate your own death.
description of classes/workshops:
Bootcamp: My Life Book, My Death Prep
Based on the friendly and spunky book Making Friends with Death, A Field Guide for Your Impending Last Breath (to be read, ideally, before it’s imminent), this 1 hour class is designed to get you thinking about making some peace with the inevitable. We’ll broach the sacred and the scary with warmth, humor, and a few wisdoms gleaned from years of research into what a good death looks like. The goal? That you’ll leave thinking of death as more of a friend rather than a spooky stranger—which helps not only you, but your loved ones as well (not to mention our culture and planet). And since we can “use death as our advisor,” it might offer a few nuggets on living our best and brightest life too. There will be a few laughs along the way—because it’s not all grim when it comes to the grim reaper.
Writing our lives, now!
The impulse to put our life to paper is a strong one—and one that deserves attention and care, particularly when we’re thinking of our death (even if that death is a long ways away). Bearing witness to who we are, what we’ve stood for, what we’ve been gifted and what we’ve overcome—well, that’s an impulse worth honoring. It’s also wise to consider how to shape those experiences into story (rather than just listing a chronology of events, say). This 2 hour class will focus on doing just that: Picking the stories you most want to write, deciding how to shape them, filling out the details that you might forget, and honing in on what matters most. By the end of the workshop, you’ll leave with a solid start to at least some of your most telling life moments. Whether it’s for a family member, loved ones, or just for you, you’ll have given the gift of preserving your voice, your story, your life.
Fees are $3000 for one day. Contact me directly at email@example.com for more info.