This class changed my life.

I found myself in a safe and supportive environment where I could not only share some of my most intimate experiences, but learn to write about them in an intentional and constructive way. I ended up composing nearly 100 pages of my own personal sex essays!

This is more than just a writing class; it’s a place where we can talk about one of the most important things in the world: SEX.
— Kali Kennedy, Penning the Nasty and Owning the Nasty student, Tucson, AZ
“Part Monster: Writing ‘Craziness’” has been one of my most meaningful learning experiences. Kati went above and beyond to not only lay down an incredibly safe, validating, and sensitive foundation to collectively work from as a class, but she was open to feedback from what we needed as students to get the most out of the material and feel heard. The class exceeded my expectations and I’m looking forward to taking another class with Kati soon.

Any writer—experiencing/living with mental health issues or not—would greatly benefit from taking the class.
— Emilly G. Prado, Part Monster: Writing "Craziness," Seattle, WA
When I initially signed up for Kati’s class on writing trauma, called “Unlocking Tough Stories,” I noted that her syllabus incorporated some discussion on the physiology of trauma and how it impacts one’s writing practice. As a former mental health practitioner, I found this an encouraging start; indeed, Kati cultivated a safe space for writing about vulnerable topics. Moreover, she curated a reading list for our study of craft, and though I’m an avid reader, Kati still managed to introduce me to several new voices. Our readings reflected diversity, in authorship, content, and form—and Kati led our exploration of narrative craft with illuminating questions, the kind that facilitated deep conversation between participants. Kati’s craft assignments expanded my writer’s toolbox and introduced me to new ways of thinking about my own material. Her critiques of essay submissions were both thoughtful and generous—she is able to identify a writer’s strengths and seeks to understand the writer’s intention for each piece.
I hope to study with her again in the future!
— Jen Gilman Porat, Unlocking Tough Stories, online
Kati is a passionate sex educator, and she brought a wealth of knowledge into the workshop. She creates a safe space for participants to share their most vulnerable material and fosters lively discussion about sex in our culture and in modern literature. Her workshop was a treat I didn’t know I needed. Sex writing has many facets and nuances, and I am confident approaching it now.
— Libby Horton, Writing the Personal Sex Essay student, Boulder, CO
I am so grateful for Kati’s course, The Telling Itself: Illness Narratives as Healing and Craft. This was my first writing course and Kati created a fine introduction to the craft, helping me start on a new and fantastic journey. Kati distilled so much about the craft to create focus and liveliness, without the ideas being overwhelming or out of reach. She inspired an atmosphere of discovery and ease so each student felt her own voice and understood more of her own story in a way that could only occur by group effect. No one wanted the course to end!

The impact was deep—changing how I read, think, and write. Kati helped free something in me, dissolving a fear and a holding back, leaving me with excitement to keep journeying in the country of writing.
— Julia Jurgens, illness writing student, Tucson, AZ
I loved the structure of the class, bouncing from discussion of this taboo subject— *sex*— into suddenly having a timed writing exercise with a prompt that jump-started ideas. Writing fast and furiously, not having to share, was freeing. When we did share, that was wonderful and wild.
— Patti Gassaway, Writing the Personal Sex Essay student, Boulder, CO
I loved this class. It was extraordinary. Maybe I couldn’t have handled it or wasn’t ready at another time in my life. We descended into an abyss of pain. And explored the incomprehensible and the chaotic. Individually and collectively there was so much growth. I read the news from a new perspective now. Realized that most assault, terror, brutality, violence is written or framed by men or male journalists or editors who are making observations. They are constructing stories from the outside. The first person narratives are powerful. Unforgettable. Brave. Wounding. Disrupt mainstream assumptions. And my own expectations. I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you for offering a vast landscape of voices.
— Barbara Seyda, Writing the Trauma Essay student, Tucson, AZ
With Part Monster, Kati cultivated a safe and thoughtful atmosphere that enabled me to tap into compartments of myself that I didn’t expect to access in the context of a two-day workshop. She facilitated with a rare blend of compassion, connection, and openness, and demonstrated a particular knack for meeting each participant exactly where they were in their writing journey. Over the course of this class, I read things I might not have read, wrote things I would not otherwise have written, and learned things about myself and my writing that I did not expect to learn. I am a better writer and human because of it.
— Gina Thayer, Part Monster: Writing 'Craziness' student, Seattle, WA
Do you get tired of the phrase, “this will change your life”? I do, except when it is true.

I’ve taken several workshops with Kati, and also worked with her as my editor. Hers is the generous painstaking critical attention I have needed for years. My first published essay started as meandering idea in one of Kati’s workshops. I feel like a writer! And Kati reminded me recently, “You are a writer!”  Funny, an infectious laugh, caring and so smart, I highly recommend Kati’s services, teaching and/or editorial manuscript reviews. Changed my life.
— Whitney Vale, creative coaching client and Penning the Nasty and Persona, Archetypes, & Exposure: Writing the Complicated Self student, Tucson, AZ
This class taught me to think about how writing about sex arouses readers and the different ways it accomplishes that arousal. Kati helped me begin to view the world with a sex positive outlook and try to confront the shame instilled from a childhood fraught with puritanical prudery. I’m blushing less, and I’m happy about that.
— Caleb Klitzke, Penning the Nasty & Owning the Nasty student, Tucson, AZ
Taking Kati’s class greatly expanded my understanding of personal essays that cover tough subjects and the craft choices that strengthen them. The readings in her course are phenomenal and provided a new landscape for me to explore as I shape my own narratives.
— Angelina Del Rio Drake, Unlocking Tough Stories, online
“Part Monster: Writing ‘Craziness,’” was invaluable. In addition to a reading list of incredible writers rendering trauma and ‘craziness,’ I received an insightful list of prompts that challenged me to expand on what I had read and to explore the depth of my experiences.

With Kati’s guidance, I practiced the syntactical skills to communicate altered states and learned to address the difficulties in revealing my wobbly self while remaining a credible narrator.  In the safe environment Kati fostered, I discovered the issues that kept me from sharing and felt more empowered to tell my secret stories.

With Kati’s support and encouragement, I accomplished this in six weekly two-hour classes—joyously!
I look forward to attending additional workshops with Kati.

She’s the best in her field.
— Renee Terry, "Part Monsters: Writing 'Craziness'" student, Tucson, AZ
If you want to know what it feels like to be totally open with strangers about your sex life – short of taking all your clothes off and getting naked – take Kati Standefer’s Penning the Nasty class and get naked with your clothes on.

There are so many ways to write about sex – suggestive, erotic, funny, sad, literary, and downright smutty and to the point – you’ll experience them all. And write them yourself. The class was challenging, addictive, and fun. We’re all sensual, sexual beings and it was a wonderful personal expansion to write and share our individual experiences.
I loved this class and believe you will, too.
— Wendy Grahm, Penning the Nasty, Spring 2019
Kati is so open-hearted and wise in her craft. She is not afraid to share and examine difficult subjects; she encourages her students to expand their viewpoints, and step out of their comfort zone, while at the same time guiding us gently through terrain that can be challenging. She is one of the most knowledgeable and open-minded writers I know. In her class “The Telling Itself” I started a draft of a personal essay, about a very difficult subject, and I haven’t experimented with this form in years. Kati was also very helpful in her critique of my poems, even though her expertise lies mainly in prose. The other class members became equally engaged in the class, and the entire experience was extremely enlightening.
— Lisa Marie Cole, illness writing student and creative coaching client, Tucson, AZ
The readings were invaluable. So often sex seeps its slippery way into my writing, and I’m at once intrigued and horrified by it. How dare you! Always showing up unwanted and unannounced, and my words always at your mercy. The readings from this course helped me see I’m not the only one. They validated that urge in me to go ahead — pen the nasty in whatever way it wants/needs to come out.
— Lora Rivera, creative coaching client and Penning the Nasty student, Tucson, AZ
Mastering the Scene was the spark I needed to rejuvenate my personal writing practice over a long, hot summer. I was worried about establishing a sense of connectedness and community through an online class, but Kati put my fears to rest within the first lesson. From the get-go, she set a tone that fostered honest, constructive feedback to and from all participants. She masterfully navigated different styles and voices within the space of a shared lesson, empowering class members to approach material in the manner most conducive to their individual writing goals.

Spanning eight weeks, Kati provided more personalized review and feedback of my work than almost any other teacher I’ve had. Her critique was both detailed and insightful, striking a compassionate and enthusiastic tone that got me excited to begin my next round of revisions. Her teaching style made me look forward to starting a new assignment each week, and her judgment-free approach created an open and convivial space to share and discuss even the roughest of drafts. I would happily take this class all over again.
— Gina Thayer, Mastering the Scene, online

There are a lot of workshops out there to take, but one with Kati feels different and entirely more supportive than any other I’ve taken. Even in an online forum where we’re not face to face, she was kind, caring, helpful with our work, and incredibly smart. She knows writing and she knows trauma so having her guide us through the intersection of both was remarkable. I feel confident in a way I’m not sure I was before that I can tell my difficult stories.

She provides tools to use, not just a few red markings on a paper and some vague guidance. She’s a great instructor and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with her again.
— Amanda Maynard, Unlocking Tough Stories online
I had the good fortune to work with Kati on writing my book, Corporate Water Strategies. Kati is an outstanding writer and researcher, and, more importantly, a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend her!
— William Sarni, Water Strategy Consultant, Author, and Board Member of the Rainforest Alliance
Kati took my memoir draft and elevated it from good to great. She challenged me to access richer expressions of my experience than I would have otherwise, and edited my story in a way that illuminated my voice and made the narrative sparkle with clarity and form. She knows her stuff and I recommend her without hesitation.
— Linda Curtis, Executive Coach and author of Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Grace www.HonorableClosure.com

Published Writing from Kati's Classes

Student Awards and Achievements

  • Students accepted into Creative Writing MFA programs at University of Iowa, Oregon State University, University of Arizona, Purdue University, and Washington University-St. Louis, and University of Montana, plus the Creative Writing PhD at Ohio University.

  • Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell won First Place in the Tucson Festival of Books 2017 Nonfiction Contest with her essay "Good Lands of Mercy." The essay was also a finalist for the New Ohio Review's 2016's essay contest, judged by Phillip Lopate.

  • Sara Hubbs' essay "Night Fishing" will be anthologized in an imprint of Talking Writing called "Into Sanity: Finding Meaning from Mental Illness." It first appeared on Talking Writing on March 6, 2017.