This workshop is designed for people who already have some experience of a workshop setting, and would like to embark (or have already begun to embark) on a memoir project of their own. 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.
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,
Good memoirs are both confessional and factual. They evoke a particular time and place and–no matter how personal–are not exercises in
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 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 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. 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.