3:30 PM EDT | 2:30 PM CDT |1:30 PM MDT| 12:30 PM PDT
Any time we set down to write the truth of our lives we have to face the fact that there is no single truth to our lives. To make matters more complex we’re different people at different times in our lives and we show different faces to different people.
The portrayal of an “authentic” self is something most memoir writers strive for, but there are always details we omit or exaggerate or forget, or hidden agendas even we aren’t aware of as we’re writing. While we don’t want to lie, we also have to understand that what we aspire to write is closer to art than a court room transcript.
It’s not all about content. There are aesthetic concerns as well. Above all, you have to remember that once an event has passed, it’s gone forever and words can’t recreate the event. They can only create a semblance of the event.
We will discuss
- Distance and the imagination
- Precision of language versus precision of memory
- Writing associatively rather than chronologically
- Including primary texts in your memoir
- Legal and ethical issues that arise whether you write fiction or nonfiction
Robin Hemley is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and has published seven books, and his stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Orion, The Believer, and many literary magazines and anthologies.. He has two books forthcoming in 2012: A FIELD GUIDE FOR THE IMMERSION WRITER: Memoir, Journalism, Travel (University of Georgia Press) and REPLY ALL: Stories (Break Away Books, Indiana University Press. Robin received his MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and currently directs the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. http://robinhemley.com
He is the founder and organizer of NonfictioNow, a biennial gathering of nonfiction writers from around the world. NonfictioNow will next take place in Melbourne, Australia November 21-24, 2012. He is the editor of Defunct magazine, an online journal that muses on everything that’s had its day, from defunct technologies to defunct music, beliefs, and games. You can check it out at Defunctmag.com