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Time: 18:00 - 20:00 on 25 April, 2022

Duration: events, 1 January - 1 January, 1970

Event Category: QWF Workshops , Workshops

Location: QWF Office—Westmount, QCView map

Organizer: QWF

8 Mondays, 6 to 8 p.m.

March 21 to May 9, 2022

Open to those who have taken at least one writing workshop

Limited to 12 participants.


Memoir, a sub-specialty of autobiography, is a hugely popular form of personal writing. Whereas autobiography is the preserve of celebrities and public figures, memoir usually highlights one period or theme 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.

This workshop on memoir is designed for people who already have some experience of workshop settings and would like to embark or have already begun to embark on a memoir project of their own. Don’t be daunted by the “intermediate” label: you need not necessarily be working on a book-length narrative. If you’re 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.

As in any workshop, there is a great emphasis on student input. Participants will not only be presenting their own work to the group but will also be expected to give careful reading of each other’s pieces in order to provide vital critical feedback. This element of the program is equally important to the writing. 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 course 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. I expect you to have purchased it ahead of time and to come to the first session prepared to discuss “Nonfiction, an Introduction,” and “How to Read a Christmas Story,” the first two chapters.

I also encourage participants to buy my Bible of clear writing: William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, to which I refer all the time.

To apply, please send an email with the following components to workshops@qwf.org no later than February 24, 2022:

1)      a 3-5-page double-spaced writing sample (non-fiction or fiction) that you feel is representative of your abilities.

2)      a paragraph introducing yourself and your writing history.

The subject line of the message should read “For Elaine Kalman Naves.”

QWF will notify you whether you’ve been accepted into the workshop the week of March 7.

Elaine Kalman Naves is a long-time literary journalist and the author of seven non-fiction titles, and of a novel.  She is a two-time recipient of the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction, the winner of two Canadian Jewish Book Awards, and of a Canadian Literary Award for Personal Essay. Her memoir Journey to Vaja: Reconstructing the World of a Hungarian-Jewish Family has been made into a documentary film. Elaine’s novel, The Book of Faith, was nominated for the Leacock Prize for Humour. She has led workshops at the QWF since their inception in 1998.  To find out more about Elaine, visit her website at http://www.elainekalmannaves.com/


Join Waitlist We will inform you of any newly available spots for this workshop via email. Please note: once you receive the notice of availability, you will have 48hrs to register —or 24hrs if the workshop begins in a week or less— before the spot is made available to the next person.
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