Our lives are woven of fascinating stories, relationships, experiences, and revelations, but how do we shape our memories into something others would like to read?
Have you ever wondered...
* how to choose which of your innumerable stories to write about?
* how to create a structure to contain the material?
* how to transform your personal stories into something of universal interest?
* what the difference is between autobiography and memoir?
* where the line is between memory and fiction?
* how you can write about difficult situations or people, especially if those people are still alive?
* if it is possible to write accurately about something that happened decades ago?
* how to recreate dialogue in a convincing and truthful way?
* what happens if someone else remembers the same events differently?
* what to do if writing your story inspires someone to want to throw a brick through your window?
These are just some of the joys and common challenges to be found in chronicling one's life on the page, so welcome!
Each workshop session begins with an informal lecture and discussion about the essential elements of memoir writing. After that, everyone has the option of workshopping one short piece of writing (or an excerpt from a longer piece). Writing can be generated over the course of the workshop or be previously created. While virtually everyone is apprehensive about sharing their writing at first, guidelines for helpful feedback and a well-monitored workshop ensure that the experience is an inspiring, encouraging and clarifying one. The aim of every session is to provide each writer with fresh and ongoing insights into her/his work, as well as the direction, focus, clarity, enthusiasm and energy s/he needs to move forward.
Many people come to my workshops because they have a personal story they wish to write but they are not sure where or how to start. Others have been writing for a while but find themselves feeling stuck, overwhelmed or out of steam. I have had experienced writers come with a clear project in mind, or well underway, and a series of specific questions for which they need answers. Or sometimes a person arrives simply with a long-held dream to write their story, having decided that now is finally, finally, the time.
No matter where you are with your writing, a workshop can help.
In addition to offering the answers to critical questions and the essential tools you need to structure and sculpt your personal stories successfully, a workshop can spare unnecessary struggle and frustration, save you time (spinning your wheels, reinventing the wheel), and offer the accountability and support (and laughter!) we simply cannot find on our own.
The progress I have witnessed over the course of these workshops has been breathtaking. Writing begins to soar as people hone their voices, focus their stories, find clarity, understand their strengths, bypass obstacles, gain confidence, employ the insights and feedback from the group, and walk away with the motivation and inspiration to turn their stories into beautiful writing.
Alumni from my workshops have gone on to see their stories published in newspapers and magazines, their essays shortlisted for international writing prizes, their books published, their autobiographical plays produced. They have secured agents and publishing contracts, positions in MFA Creative Writing programs, and they have created priceless self-made books as gifts for their children and grandchildren.
Most importantly, they have had the pleasure and satisfaction of writing, at last.