“How is it possible to bring order out of memory? I should like to begin at the beginning, patiently, like a weaver at his loom. I should like to say, ‘This is the place to start; there can be no other.’” Beryl Markham
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. ~Anne Lamott
“I believe that the memoir is the novel of the 21st century; it’s an amazing form that we haven’t even begun to tap…we’re just getting started figuring out what the rules are. ~Susan Cheever
Memoir is sometimes known as the ugly step-sister of fiction. It is a genre that confuses literary critics and has its practitioners swearing that they will never write another memoir as long as they live. Why is this genre so daunting to writers and so popular with readers?
This is a workshop for anyone who is thinking of starting a memoir project or has started writing one, but feels terrified about how their friends and family will react to their version of events. What are the risks involved with life-writing, especially for writers from marginalized groups? If one is lucky to be published and widely read, how does one cope with the scrutiny of media and strangers? Legally, ethically, morally, what do we owe the “characters” in our work, and to what extent do we owe our readers/the public outside of sharing our stories?
The first half of the session will be a presentation. We will explore the ethics of memoir writing; the challenges and limitations of the form, including self-care while drafting and the “burdens” of telling our versions of the truth. In the second half of the workshop, you will have the opportunity to work through writing exercises, discuss and share your experiences in smaller breakout groups, and ask questions in the last 15-20 minutes of the workshop. Participants will leave with a supportive community of other aspiring memoir writers and a good self-care plan in place. This is a safe, inclusive space.