How do you write a good memoir? You apply the narrative techniques of fiction and poetry: you take the fascinating, messy raw material of your life and build a frame for it. You distill. You find a voice that’s all you but that also offers you flexibility, perspective and the right counterbalance to the story’s content. You tap into your emotions to give your story energy and urgency. What’s the best way to start? In this six-week class, we will do close readings from an assortment of wildly varied but equally powerful memoirs – by memoirists ranging from Roxanne Gay to David Sedaris — to see how authors have solved these problems for themselves. Then you will try out these methods for yourselves to see which ones fit you best.
Each week you will be assigned a brief reading combined with an exercise, and the teacher will explain the technique that makes the piece effective. The following week you will bring two double-spaced pages based on the exercise, your writing will be read aloud, and you will give and receive feed back. Then the teacher gives a final, supportive critique. At our last meeting, you’ll have a chance to continue developing one of the exercises.