Upcoming classes: Memoir
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4 —FEBRUARY 1 | Whatever your background, if you’re looking to generate pages and gain insight into your project, set aside five Thursday evenings this winter. You’ll find a supportive community designed to foster productivity and good writing habits. We’ll set goals, frame a workable practice that makes sense for you, and hold each other accountable – without blame.
Each session will start with a check-in and a writing prompt suitable for generating new material or deepening existing work. We’ll share what we’ve worked on in the intervening week, as applicable, and spend time writing.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, JANUARY 16 —30 | For our foreseeable futures, crisis—personal, political, civilizational crisis—will remain a fact of life. How we, as writers, incorporate these multiple and interconnected moments of truth into our journalism and creative (fiction, poetry, nonfiction) writing will be a major measure of our ability to reach readers awash in unprecedented instability.
This interactive course will incite writers to delve deeper into the inflection points that drive our narratives—and, often, our lives. Using examples from the classical and contemporary literature and journalism of crisis, we will explore the ways these narratives use crises to structure, move and animate their work.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, JANUARY 18 —FEBRUARY 22 | This workshop is geared toward intermediate to advanced writers who would like to receive regular feedback on their work. Each week’s session will begin with a discussion of a short reading on craft or a few pages from a narrative. Students will then read aloud a few pages of their own work (500 – 1,000 words) and receive constructive feedback from their instructor and peers.
The aim of this workshop is to give participants regular writing deadlines and encouragement as they polish their prose. Your only homework—aside from brief, inspirational readings—will be to write, write, write.
SUNDAYS, JANUARY 21 & 28 | How do you draw readers into the world of your memoir—whether traveling on a BART train in San Francisco, hiking along the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite, or remembering your first house as a child? In a comfortable environment, we’ll go over the basic elements of great memoir writing. Exercises will help you heighten language through sensory detail, learn the difference between scene and summary, and deal with time shifts by using flashback and slow-motion techniques. We will also review the more challenging aspects of point of view, so you can find the right voice and fully engage your readers.→ READ MORE
MONDAYS, JANUARY 22—MARCH 5 | How do you start writing about your life, either in memoir or personal essay? Hint: Not at the beginning. The scenes we remember most vividly in our lives are the ones that carry the most meaning and emotional weight. In this class, we’ll write vivid scenes as a way of developing a memoir or just to improve your technique writing scenes for other narrative work. Once you write several vivid scenes, you start to see your material form–your themes and structure. This is a workshop class, both for people who have taken Vivid Scenes: Developing Your Memoir and for others who have some experience writing scenes.→ READ MORE
MONDAYS, JANUARY 22 —FEBRUARY 26 | Storytellers—whether they are novelists, memoirists, or narrative journalists—know that characters are key to any great yarn. Yet developing characters is harder than you might think. Especially minor ones, where few words must make an impression. But even when we have paragraphs—or an entire book— to capture character, we don’t always hit the nail on the head. Connie Hale, who has made the profile her preferred form, uses readings, in-class exercises, and writing prompts to help you draw people on the page—and draw out important themes. The class will move from short sketches to longer work, which will be workshopped in class.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 | Why do some memoirs take off from the first page, while others stall out before the end of chapter one? More importantly: How can you make sure the memoir you’re writing gets all the necessary gears lined up on those all-important first five pages?
In this combination craft lecture and trouble-shooting workshop, you’ll learn the three Cs of narrative engine: Character, Conflict, and Clock. What’s clock, you say? Glad you asked. It’s a simple but elusive element that’s crucial to your story’s drive—but many memoir writers don’t realize their pages are missing it.→ READ MORE
MONDAY, JANUARY 29 | Big challenges can spark writing that is personal, meaningful and cathartic. We’ll read from Oliver Sacks and Joan Didion and do our own generative short exercises to explore how to find points of entry into personal experiences of loss. The setting facilitates your ability to access memories and ideas and connect them to the page in a safe and supportive environment. You will leave the class with starting points for possible essays, stories, poems. All genres are welcome.
As a seriously ill patient as well as a caregiver for my mom, I channeled my grief into a book project and writing assignments (to help pay the bills and avoid going crazy).→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4 | The beauty of nonfiction books is that they can frequently be sold on the basis of a 40- to 60-page proposal. What is a proposal? Essentially, it is a business plan for your book – a document that outlines your book’s basic premise, provides data indicating that there’s a sizable audience for it, and otherwise convinces a publisher to give you money to write it. Memoirs, narrative journalism, business books, histories, and biographies can all be sold on proposal.
In this seminar, students will learn the seven components of a book proposal, read examples of proposals that sold, and get the lowdown on the publishing industry – including the best way to find an agent.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4 | Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself.” That sums up the personal essay — identifying the monster within and transforming it into something miraculous. Whether it’s a small realization or a dramatic triumph over tragedy, the personal essay takes the reader on a journey where the writer — and reader — come out different on the other side. This day-long class will teach you the basics of writing essays about your life, and you’ll finish the class (miracle!) with an outline for an essay of your own.