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Build Your Memoir from the Ground Up

A Craft Boot Camp for Writers

6 Tuesdays: 3/9, 3/16, 3/23, 3/30, 4/6, 4/13
4pm Pacific | 7pm Eastern

If there’s one thing that’s lacking in the landscape of memoir, it’s straightforward teaching about craft and how to execute your memoir project from the ground up. This spring we’re offering our most ambitious course yet because we know it’s material memoirists so desperately need. Six expert memoir teachers will guide you through structure, beginnings, scene and narration, transitions, voice and language and self-expression, and finally reflection and takeaway. If you’ve ever read a memoir and marveled at its construction, at the way the author seemed to capture all the right elements, then immerse yourself in the wonder of building your memoir from the ground up with us. Scroll down for more information about your instructors and details about each course.

Sessions are on Zoom.
Each class is 90 minutes.
All sessions are recorded and accessible indefinitely after class ends.

Week 1 (March 9): Creating Your Blueprints with Marion Roach Smith

Marion Roach Smith is has been teaching memoir for years and is especially well known for helping writers understand the ins and outs of memoir structure. This class will support you to consider what holds a memoir together, whether your book will benefit from being broken up into Acts, and why your book structure is always informed by your argument. This invaluable starting point to this six-week class will get you jazzed as you consider the blueprint for your memoir and how it will support you to write the best memoir you can write.

Marion Roach Smith is the author of four books, including The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. A former staffer at The New York Times, she has been a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and a talk show host on Sirius Satellite Radio. She currently runs a writing lab called The Memoir Project and teaches memoir worldwide at marionroach.com.

Week 2 (March 16): Laying Your Foundation with Wendy C. Ortiz

This class is all about beginnings. You have an idea, or maybe you’re already started, but you’re not sure the beginning is really the beginning, or maybe you struggle with how to start chapters, or even how to start scenes. Wendy C. Ortiz, whose memoir, Excavation was named one of “11 Groundbreaking Books About Women Making History With Their Thinking, Activism, And Courage,” knows a thing or two about foundations—from mining memories, to using journals and web writing into her memoir. This class will include strategies writers can use to support the unfolding of the story along the way. 

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A MemoirHollywood Notebook, and the dreamoir Bruja. In 2016 Bustle named her one of  “9 Women Writers Who Are Breaking New Nonfiction Territory.” Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Joyland, StoryQuarterly, FENCE, and McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. Wendy is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles.

Week 3 (March 23): Building Your Dream House with Porochista Khakpour

Here’s the hardcover craft class every writer will be craving by the time we get to Class 3. And Porochista Khakpour will deliver scene, narration, dialogue, and more. Porochista’s writing has appeared practically everywhere, and she knows the power of drawing her readers into story, and into scene. To tell a memorable story, one that captivates a reader, you must master the tools of the trade. Here you’ll get to learn from one of the best, from the beloved author of the memoir, Sick, who teaches students all over the world how to turn story into craft.

Porochista Khakpour is the author of two award-winning novels, Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion. Her third book, Sick: A Memoir, was a Best Book of 2018 according to Time magazine, Real Simple,  Bitch Media, The Paris Reivew, LitHub, and more. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Elle, Slate, Salon, and elsewhere. Her most recent book is a collection of those essays, Brown Album. She teaches creative writing at universities around the country and lives in New York City.

Week 4 (March 30): Stair-steps and Thresholds—Transitions and Time in Memoir with Brooke Warner

Letting your readers know where you are in time is key to successful narration—and to not losing your reader. Brooke Warner’s enthusiasm for supporting writers to hold the time, to handle time, and always to remind your reader where you are in relation to what you’ve already written will have you itching to read through your work-in-progress to make sure you’re doing just that. This class will also cover the ins and outs of line breaks and transitions and when to use them; how to skillfully integrate memory and flashback into your memoirs; and more. Step over this threshold with Brooke, author of three books on memoir, and you’ll never look at time the same way again.

Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Write On, Sisters!, Green-Light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, and three books on memoir, including How to Sell Your Memoir, and two books co-authored with Linda Joy Myers: Breaking Ground on Your Memoir and The Magic of Memoir. She is committed to helping writers become creative entrepreneurs and thought leaders, a message conveyed in her 2017 TEDx talk, “Green-Light Revolution.” Together with Linda Joy Myers, she teaches memoir intensives here and at WriteYourMemoirinSixMonths.com.

Week 5 (April 6): Making It Your Own with Faith Adiele

Voice, language, and self-expression are just some of the ways that your readers experience you and get a flavor for your personality in your memoir. Faith Adiele’s intimate and personal writing is her personal springboard for inviting you into this world of self-expression and all the many access points you have—all in service of deeper excavation, and telling your story with courage, letting you shine onto the page in all your unique ways. These are the finishing touches on your house, your unique story, what makes the story yours to tell. Faith will include tips about revision, and how to elevate your language, the final polish your memoir needs.

Named one of Marie Claire Magazine’s “Five Women to Learn From,” Faith Adiele speaks and teaches around the world. She is the author of Meeting Faith, her memoir about leaving Harvard to become Thailand’s first Black Buddhist nun. She is the creator of My Journey Home, a PBS documentary about finding family, and author of The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems and Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology. She writes for the meditation app Calm, as well as for A World of Calm, a new series co-produced by Calm and HBO.

Week 6 (April 13): The View from Your Porch with Linda Joy Myers

So, you’re more or less done, but what does it look like from your vantage point? Did you remember to tell your reader what sense you made of your experience along the way? Did you include universal truths? Did you consider the ways in which your experience is relatable and resonant, and did you invite your reader to feel those moments along with you? Memoir guru Linda Joy Myers, author of two memoirs and multiple books about memoir writing, guides us through this final but all-important element of craft—reflection, as well as takeaway, which is a form of universally reflecting (which is super important to understand, since it’s a point of heart connection with your readers). This class is all about heart, since reflection and takeaway are what will stay with your reader long after they’ve finished your book, so make sure you stay till the very end and remember that it matters to enjoy the view from the outside of what you’ve worked so very hard to create.

Linda Joy Myers is the president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of two award-winning memoirs Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains. Her three books, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Becoming Whole, and Journey of Memoir, guide writers through the stages of creating a powerful, truthful, and universal story. Together with Brooke Warner, she teaches memoir intensives here and at WriteYourMemoirinSixMonths.com.

Build Your Memoir from the Ground Up

A Craft Boot Camp for Writers

6 Tuesdays: 3/9, 3/16, 3/23, 3/30, 4/6, 4/13
4pm Pacific | 7pm Eastern

Writing and Support Circles for Memoirists

Fridays following each Boot Camp:
3/12,  3/19, 3/26, 4/2, 4/9, 4/16
11am Pacific | 2pm Eastern

Brooke & Linda Joy have been teaching memoir long enough to know that memoir-writing can be an isolating experience sometimes. The genre, as well-loved as it is by many, is also little understood. Memoirists can find it difficult to find like-minded people, and beyond that it can simply be difficult to find or make the time to write. In these memoir writing and support circles, you’ll be partnered each week with one or two other memoir writers. You will be given a prompt that corresponds with that week’s craft class, and you’ll have time to both write and to share.

Sessions are on Zoom.
Each class is 60 minutes.
You’ll be partnered with 1-2 other writers to write together and share insights from class.

Add-on only: $30

*Note: You cannot register for this add-on by itself. It’s only available to those students registered for Boot Camp.

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