*No meeting on October 12 – Thanksgiving.*
Intermediate-level workshop: This workshop is designed for people who already have some experience of a workshop setting and would like to embark (or have already embarked) on a memoir project of their own.
Limited to 12 participants.
Memoir, a sub-specialty of autobiography, is a form of personal writing that has become hugely popular in recent years. While autobiography is generally the preserve of public figures and takes a chronological “breakfast-to-bedtime” approach to an entire life, memoir usually highlights one period or one theme taken from the life of an ordinary individual, someone with little or no claim to fame. Its special currency is the universality of human experience; its value is what may be learned from a so-called ordinary person.
Good memoirs are both confessional and factual. They evoke a particular time and place and—no matter how personal—are not exercises in navel gazing. As the renowned Czech-Canadian author Josef Skvorecky once put it, “Some writers may think their only subject is themselves, [but] if they are any good they are telling the history of their times and of their people. If all a writer manages is a picture of her- or himself against a blank curtain, then the writer is just a miserable scribbler who never grew out of puberty.”
Participants will present work to the group once or twice during the course of the eight weeks and will be expected to read each other’s work carefully in order to provide critical feedback. About half of each session will be devoted to in-class exercises and discussion of selected material from the text named below. The rest of the time will be spent discussing participants’ submissions.
The text for the workshop is This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, a work that operates both as a how-to book on writing and as an exemplary series of linked memoirs/personal essays. You should purchase it ahead of time and come to the first session prepared to discuss “Nonfiction, an Introduction” and “How to Read a Christmas Story,” the first two chapters.
Do not be daunted by the “intermediate” label: you need not necessarily be working on a book-length narrative. If you are open to learning from a professional practitioner of the genre as well as from your peers, you will almost certainly find this workshop helpful and motivating.
The cost for this 8-week workshop is:
QWF Members: $170*
Student Members: $98*
*+ PayPal/Credit Card fee if paying online