Currently, I teach writing workshops at Writers & Books (a community-based literary center in Rochester); and literary nonfiction / memoir workshops privately. Previously, I was Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Marymount Manhattan College (New York City), and held writer-in-residence / visiting faculty positions at Mount Holyoke College (MA) and Luther College (Iowa). I’ve also taught creative writing at the University of Rochester as an adjunct assistant professor. Students call my teaching—developed through years of designing both college and community-based workshops—creative and supportive as well as rigorous. I hold degrees in English from Wellesley College (BA) and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (MFA).
My pedagogy is also informed by mindfulness and meditative practices—Vipassana meditation, a 200-hour yoga teacher training, and many years of dance and movement classes. Writing is a physical act and these experiences and practices fundamentally altered my approach to writing and teaching. For more on my movement and mindfulness background scroll down to the end of this page.
“Sejal’s teaching style helps create a safe learning environment. Members in the class feel comfortable experimenting and trying different writing styles. I have gotten excellent feedback from members in the class and Sejal has done a great job facilitating the feedback. She models how to give feedback. There were times when I wasn’t sure what to say about a piece but the class has helped me learn what to look for in someone’s writing. Sejal is always nudging us to the next level and keeping us just outside of our comfort zone. Her support and the support of the class makes it easier to take risks with our writing.” —Julie Cicora, Rochester, NY
“Our group was craving a time to connect to each other and to ourselves, particularly exploring our own identities as female leaders in the non-profit world. Sejal nurtured us through writing exercises and conversations that allowed us to do just what we had hoped. Our afternoon workshop was full of insight, laughter, tears, and joy, and we walked away inspired and feeling our strength.” —Sarah Fitzgibbons, Clinical Director for The Society for Protection and Care of Children, Rochester, NY
On July, 21, 2018, I will be co-teaching a one-day writing-intensive at The Gell Center—a retreat center in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. Other instructors include Anne Panning and Ralph Black (nonfiction writer and poet—respectively– in the English Department at SUNY Brockport); Kristen Gentry (fiction faculty at SUNY Geneseo); Stephen Schottenfeld (fiction faculty at University of Rochester); and Sarah Freligh (poet and nonfiction writer). Application and other information can be accessed in the link above.
For more information on fall 2018 workshops, please contact me at fictionalsejal at gmail dot com or through the contact page on this site.
College Essay Tutoring:
In my other previous life as a high school English teacher, I taught for a few years at The Harley School and Brighton High School, both in Rochester, New York, and at Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in Massachusetts. I continue to work with students each fall through focused tutoring on college application essays. Testimonials from two of my former students are below:
“Sejal taught me how to start papers when I was completely lost as well as how to be concise with my writing, two things I had struggled with a lot. Even after my first time working with her, I became a noticeably better writer and editor. Sejal gave me—an engineer—a greater appreciation for writing.”—Sangam Munsiff, Pittsford Sutherland High School, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
“Sejal’s instruction was supportive and specific and resulted in getting admitted to my school of choice. She pushed me to think deeper and include details and supporting evidence, which was difficult but necessary. Sejal taught me strategies that I had not learned in my English classes. I still use some of the tips she taught me for my papers in college.” –Sadie Aman, Mercy High School, Nazareth College, Rochester, New York
I work with adult writers in small workshops, offering more instruction and feedback than is possible in a standard class. I currently focus on creative nonfiction essays, memoir, and autobiographical fiction. To discuss your project and individual needs, please email me or contact me through the link below.
Yoga, Mindfulness, & Writing Workshops:
A lifelong lover of dance, I grew up studying South Indian Classical Dance, and took classes in ballet and modern dance, including Garth Fagan technique. My love of movement also drew me to yoga and contemplative dance in my mid-twenties. In 2009, I earned my 200-hour RYT certification in Iyengar-influenced yoga at Open Sky Yoga under Francois Raoult. I later studied with Judith Hanson Lasater, and completed her Relax & Renew Restorative Yoga teacher training.
I lived in New York City for much of my thirties. I had a tenure track position as a professor of creative writing– something I had worked toward for a long time. However, I longed for a more embodied, balanced existence beyond running to and from teaching, committee meetings, grading, and conference-attending. One Sunday morning I found myself at the Joffrey Ballet Studio in the West Village, at the recommendation of an old friend. There, I took my first class in Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms — an improvisational movement meditation. This movement practice reconnected me to my earlier, dancing self and my (our) innate creativity. I was hooked. I studied 5Rhythms in weekly classes in NYC and later in an immersive, month-long work study program with Lucia Horan at The Esalen Institute. I also studied Vipassana Meditation and sat three 10-day silent courses. Writing is a physical act and these experiences and practices fundamentally altered my approach to writing and teaching.
After moving back to Rochester in 2012, I collaborated with Marijana Ababovic, whom I met during yoga teacher training, and we created and co-taught our first Writing & Yoga workshop–an alternating sequence of yoga asanas and guided writing exercises. We offered this retreat again in 2013. That fall, I taught my third Writing & Yoga retreat with yoga teacher Mary Aman. My 2014 retreat, “Relax Into Writing,” was held at Writers & Books’ Gell Center in Naples, NY. In addition to teaching dedicated Writing & Yoga and Writing & Mindfulness workshops, I incorporate mindfulness practices into my creative writing classes.