School of Nonfiction with Shulem Deen

Friends — Here it is!

The long-awaited announcement of my new project.

I will need your help with this, so please read to the end.

First, a preamble:

Some of you might have noticed that I officially launched a coaching practice for writers of personal narrative (sometimes known as “memoir,” although the category is a bit more expansive than that).

I am not an expert on many things. I know a thing or two about books, a couple facts about history, I’ve got a halfway-civilized appreciation of art, and I can sing along to — oh, I don’t know — a couple hundred songs, provided you don’t test me closely on the lyrics. (Nor on the pitch of my notes, for that matter.) But the one thing I’ve studied seriously, committedly, has been the art and craft of writing, especially nonfiction.

And so, in addition to my real-life coaching practice, I have launched my “School of Nonfiction.”


“School of Nonfiction” is a book-length collection of essays on nonfiction writing, with one essay released bi-weekly right here at “School of Nonfiction.” The essays will be organized in multiple series collections, with the initial launch being The Memoir Series. (Click here for a full list of forthcoming Memoir Series essays.)

In addition, I will be writing one general interest essay each month, either in the “Personal” or the “Politics and Culture” category, as my own contributions to the practice and discipline of the nonfiction form.

Future series will include essays on Op-Ed writing and cultural criticism. In addition, I am hoping to add video content, essays by other writers, interviews with personalities in writing and publishing, and more. There is also the possibility of real-life group classes, though that is probably a ways off.

Essays in “School of Nonfiction” will drop every other week, on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The general nonfiction essay will appear on the second Wednesday of each month. **

Using some fancy arithmetic, this means there will be three new essays every month for your reading pleasure.

The “School of Nonfiction” essays will be of special interest to anyone interested in writing, but I hope they will be read and appreciated even by non-writers. The third monthly essay will be for a more general readership. Something for everyone.

This week’s special launch edition essay is already up! Check it out here:

Finding the Narrative Needle in Your Life’s Haystack.

Patron Support and the “School of Nonfiction” Community

“School of Nonfiction” is not merely a collection of essays. It is a community gathered around a discussion of ideas, particular ideas about writing craft but also about life itself.

In order to join this community, please consider becoming a patron today via the “School of Fiction” Patreon page. For any amount you choose — be it $1 or $100,000 — per published essay, you will gain access to patron-only posts and the patron-only community. There are also a few nifty rewards included, such as a signed copy of my book, or allowing me the privilege of buying you a cup of joe, and other such novelties as a special thank you.

Your pledge will also allow this work to continue, and help this community grow. If you have enjoyed my work in the past, or are intrigued by what I might be doing in the future, please join the community that helps make it happen.

(A quick note for those unfamiliar with Patreon:  Patreon is a platform that allows people to support artists and “creators” by pledging $X per creation. In my case, I am creating essays, and I plan to publish three original essays per month. So, your pledge for $1, for example, would usually be $3 per month. For more info, check out this brief video: “What is Patreon?”)



This is a significant pivot in my writing life.

For over a decade and a half, I have been writing, editing, and speaking about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world: its ideological faults, its problematic social structure, the traumas of those abused within it, and the process of leaving it behind. I’ve written a book on the subject and published countless articles. I’ve given nearly 200 talks. I have appeared on TV and radio internationally to discuss these themes. I founded and edited an online journal, where I published a collection of glistening essays by scores of talented writers. I have been active in non-writing areas to advocate on behalf of those who’ve made the choice to leave the ultra-Orthodox world.

I continue to care about those issues, to support individuals and organizations committed to this work, and to do my own modest share of activism.

But my writing focus will now be elsewhere. Broader. More general. A more expanded readership on a more expansive array of topics. Will they come? Will they stay? Will I have what to say? Will I be able to keep it up? I’d like to think the answer is yes to it all.

I’ll be honest: this is exciting, nerve-wracking, exhilarating and terrifying all at once. But most of all, it’s a project for which I have been on fire for like nothing else in recent years. I spent a lot of time thinking about this, and talking to some of the smartest people I know, before forging ahead, and now all that’s left is to get cracking. That’s what I’m going to do, and I hope you will join me in this endeavor by becoming a patron today.

**Since this (June 2018) is the first month of publishing, the schedule is modified, with only two essays in June. The first, in the Memoir Series, has been published on Monday, June 11. The general interest essay will appear Wednesday, June 20. There will be no further essays published in June, and the usual schedule as described above will begin in the month of July.