The “Hermit Crab” Essay: How to Use Borrowed Forms to Structure Your Work (with guest instructor Randon Billings Noble)


Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Online via Zoom


Join essayist Randon Billings Noble in exploring a curious new sub-genre of creative nonfiction: the so-called “hermit crab” essay. Hybrids in the truest sense, hermit crab essays borrow their structures from ordinary, extra-literary sources (a recipe, a syllabus, an instruction manual, etc.) to use as a framework for a meditation on a chosen subject. In this workshop, we will do a close reading of several hermit crab essays, discuss the importance of choosing the right “shell,” and generate new work.  This workshop is suitable for beginners, advanced practitioners, and everyone in between.  

Cost: $55. Please register by clicking on the PayPal link. If you would prefer to pay by check, please send an email to
About Randon
Market Street Writers is pleased to host essayist Randon Billings Noble as a guest instructor for this event. Randon's stunning full-length essay collection, Be With Me Always, was published in 2019 by the University of Nebraska Press to wide acclaim. Her individual essays have appeared in the Modern Love column of the New York Times, The Massachusetts Review, The Georgia Review, Passages North, Shenandoah, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. Her hermit crab essay "The Heart as a Torn Muscle," originally published in Brevity, was listed as Notable in The Best American Essays 2016. Currently she is the founding editor of the online literary magazine After the Art and editing a lyric essay anthology to be published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2021. Randon is a true master of the essay form, and if you're interested in creative nonfiction you won't want to miss this workshop! To learn more about Randon, visit
Focus on Form: Crafting the Personal, the Lyric, and the
Hermit Crab Essay (with guest instructor Randon Billings Noble)


Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Market Street Writers, Leesburg, VA. Please note there is a small dog in residence.

The word “essay” comes from the French essayer: “to try.”  In this daylong workshop we’ll try our hand at writing several different kinds of essays – personal/familiar, segmented, and hermit crab.  We'll look at different examples and consider the ways form can intensify content.  We’ll also write, starting with a series of generative exercises and ending with some draft-work towards an essay in the form(s) of your choice.  Please come ready to read, write, think, try, dare – and play!


This workshop will benefit beginning writers, advanced practitioners, and everyone in between. Please bring a bag lunch and a notebook and pen. Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Flowering from Within: Journaling and Self-Compassion
(with Laura Banks)


Saturday, May 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Unitarian Univeralist Congregation of Sterling, 22135 Davis Drive, Sterling, VA

“for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing”

– Galway Kinnell, “Saint Francis and the Sow” 


The benefits of self-compassion and its connection to personal growth and flourishing are solidly established by a growing body of research. Yet many people struggle with the concept of self-compassion and how to experience the mindfulness, sense of connection, and kindness that self-compassion can engender. This workshop is designed to explore the cultivation of self-compassion through journaling, meditation, group discussion, and engaged, embodied exercises. Join Laura Banks, Certified Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT) Instructor, and Lisa Colburn, Certified Journal to the Self® instructor, as we look at our lives through the lens of self-compassion and discover the art of “flowering from within.”

During this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the research behind self-compassion, including common challenges to developing self-compassion

  • Explore specific practices that increase self-compassion, such as reflective journaling and meditation

  • Experiment with journaling prompts designed to prime and cultivate self-compassion

  • Write and reflect in community

  • Receive a list of resources to support your personal journaling and self-compassion practices


Please bring a notebook & pen, as well as a bag lunch. Snacks will be provided.

Cost: $95. Please register via the PayPal link above or send an email to if you would prefer to pay by check. 

About Laura
Laura Banks is a Certified Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT) Instructor, dual certified by the Compassion Institute and Stanford University. She is inspired by and seeks to strengthen her own and others' capacity to thrive and find meaning throughout life, especially through the cultivation of compassion. You can find out more about Laura by visiting
Into the Light: Writing Toward Hope in Troubled Times


Monday, April 6, 6 to 8 p.m.

Online via Zoom [FREE]


When the world offers us fear and uncertainty, our journals can offer us refuge. In this two-hour workshop we will invite Hope to the table as we write together in community. I will provide writing prompts, guided meditation, and the opportunity for each person to witness and be witnessed through their writing. Everyone is welcome, and no writing experience is required. All sharing is voluntary.


What you'll need: privacy, notebook and pen (or computer), and a candle.


This workshop is a free offering to the community, and will be held via Zoom. To register for this event on Eventbrite, click here

More Joy, Less Stress: Write Your Way to Holiday Cheer (with Sue McCollum)

Saturday, December 7, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Market Street Writers, Leesburg, VA. Please note there is a small dog in residence.


Stress reaches a crescendo as we approach the holiday season. The pressure to bake, decorate, shop, wrap, and host parties creates a flurry of activity. It’s difficult to prioritize, much less manage expectations. Helen Keller reminds us, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”  But when we’re stressed, it’s easy to get caught up in the “doing” and miss the true essence of the holiday season.


In this workshop we will use writing to look at what stresses us at this time of year. We’ll re-examine our values, and then create a vision for a heart-felt holiday. Join Sue McCollum, co-author of the newly released book Write Your Stress Away: Tame the Tension in Your Life, and Lisa Colburn, certified Journal to the Self® instructor, as we look at how writing can provide the antidote for holiday stress. Journaling workshop.

Please bring a notebook & pen.


About Sue McCollum:

Sue McCollum is a licensed professional counselor and certified Amherst Writers & Artists writing workshop facilitator who uses writing to empower clients to overcome personal challenges and embrace a life of health and well-being. She co-created The Write to Be Well™ writing method with Diane Hartingh Price, her partner in This simple four-step writing process aims to reduce the 21st century stress that plagues all of us and jeopardizes our health. She is passionate about sharing how writing opens us to life-changing possibilities and empowers us to Get Well, Be Well and Stay Well!


Cost: $40. To register via PayPal, click on the yellow button. To register by mail, click on the PDF.

The Writer's Sandbox: Creative Writing for Everyone

Tuesdays, 6 to 8:30 p.m., Feb. 4 - March 17 (6 weeks; no workshop Feb. 18)

Market Street Writers, Leesburg, VA. Please note there is a small dog in residence.

You're invited to play, explore, and experiment! Writing doesn't have to be a serious business–it can be fun! In this generative workshop, you’ll receive a wide variety of writing prompts to fire up your imagination, write in whichever genre(s) you choose, and read your work aloud if you wish. All feedback will celebrate what is strong and memorable in your writing. Come and share your creative genius (everyone has it)! All writers–or aspiring writers–are welcome.

This is an Amherst Writers & Artists workshop. To learn more about this workshop method, click here. Depending on the needs of the group, I am open to running this workshop from 6:30 to 9. We will discuss at the first meeting.

Cost: $175 for the 6-week session. Register using the PayPal button below or click on the PDF to send your registration by mail. Special Offer! Bring a friend who is new to the workshop and both of you will receive 20% off! Contact for more details.

© 2020 by Lisa Kinney Colburn

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