When Emily Cataneo and Arshia Simkin graduated from their Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing program in 2019, they realized there weren’t many opportunities outside of a university setting to improve creative writing. From there, Redbud Writing Project, the Triangle’s only adult creative writing school, was born. Founded by Cataneo and Simkin in 2019, the project works to provide writing classes and opportunities for adults regardless of restrictions on time, money or resources. “There was a huge appetite for an offering like this in the community and so, almost five years later, here we are,” Cataneo said. The organization is headquartered in Raleigh and offers classes at satellite locations in Chapel Hill, Durham, Pittsboro and Carrboro, including at Golden Fig Books and Flyleaf Books. According to Simkin, the organization attempts to make courses fun and engaging, while maintaining rigorous, college-level content in order to push students to write their best work. Redbud is committed to the principles of compassion, empathy and candor, according to their website. The classes strive to inspire and create a safe space to share written work, while providing honest feedback. “I think that people come to our classes and feel excited about writing but it’s also important that they get feedback on ways to make their writing even better and suggestions and ideas for how to continue to progress,” Cataneo said. Fiction teacher Matthew Buckley Smith said he provides specific feedback that acts less like advice and more like guided questions in order to point his students in the right direction. Kaye Usry, a student at Redbud, began her journey with the organization in 2019 after seeking feedback on a personal project. Since then, she has taken various classes, including the “Writing the Novel” course, and has written a full novel. Usry said students have the chance to workshop their peers’ work throughout the courses, which both improves the class’ creative writing and strengthens the course community. “The classes are only six sessions, but I’ve made some really good friends through those classes, because it’s such an intimate thing […]

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