Family Stories: Turning Life Into Art (with Susan Ito)

Susan Ito




MONDAYS, JANUARY 14 —FEBRUARY 11  |  Writing about our families—those people who influence our lives most profoundly—is deeply personal and marked by passion, conflict and emotion. It can be both inspirational and challenging. How much detail is too much? How can we best utilize small or large swaths of family life to inform our writing?

Whether you want to tell your family’s history or write a memoir based on your grandmother’s life, your child’s birth story, or a fictional account of your distant cousin’s escapades, this class will help you to shape those family tales into compelling, polished stories. Start with memories or bits of family lore and learn how to develop characters, identify structure and themes, and craft these personal threads into memorable pieces of writing. We will study examples of excellent family-based writing. We will also explore the inner and interpersonal challenges that published authors have faced when writing about relatives, and how they have overcome them. 

Susan Ito is author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. She has been a columnist and editor at Literary Mama, and her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Hyphen, Catapult, The Bellevue Literary Review, Making More Waves and elsewhere. She has performed her solo show, The Ice Cream Gene, around the United States. She writes and teaches at the Grotto, at Bay Path University and Mills College. Her collection of essays about identity and family is forthcoming in 2019.


Number of sessions: 5

Time: 6:45 pm – 9:15 pm

Dates: Mondays, January 14, 21, 28; February 4, 11 

Course fee: $325

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