fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Fall Quarter

Fall Quarter Underway
Late-Start Classes
Still Available
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Creative Writing

CNF 55 — Fast-Draft Your Way to a Complete Memoir

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 28—Dec 7
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 11
Unit(s): 3 Units
Tuition: $650
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 23
On campus
6:30—9:20 pm
Sep 28—Dec 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 11
3 Units
Please Note: No class on November 23
Writing a memoir can be a daunting proposition— you’re the expert on your life, naturally, but narrating and organizing your own experiences effectively can feel impossible. Many writers become frustrated in early drafting stages and lack the confidence to move forward. In this course, we will learn how to quickly get a draft of your memoir written while keeping the memoir’s structure cohesive and compelling. We’ll discuss the framing techniques that best suit your particular life’s story and give it a natural arc that will keep your reader engaged. We’ll learn how working quickly heightens enthusiasm and quiets the inner critic. Perfectionists will discover strategies to get out of their own way while in the first-draft stage, and students leery of revision will learn procedures that can be utilized after the course has ended to make reaching the final draft an enjoyable experience. We’ll analyze work by memoirists Mary Karr, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jesmyn Ward, Noelle Hancock, and Alison Bechdel. Approximately half of our class time will be devoted to students’ work, and by the end of the course, enthusiastic students will have not only a bare-bones first draft of a memoir, but also a course of action for self-completion.

Rachael Herron, Author

Rachael Herron is the author of the memoir A Life in Stitches, and fourteen novels, most recently The Ones Who Matter Most, which was named a 2016 Editors’ Spring Pick by Library Journal. She has taught writing workshops at UC Berkeley, Seton Hall University, and the Melbourne Writers Festival. Herron received an MFA in writing from Mills College. She is at work on a new collection of essays and a new novel.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (ISBN 978-0062223074)
(Required) Meredith Maran, Why We Write About Ourselves (ISBN 978-0142181973)
(Required) Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (ISBN 978-1101874936)
(Recommended) Ta-Nehesi Coates, Between The World And Me (ISBN 978-0812993547)
(Recommended) Jesmyn Ward, The Men We Reaped (ISBN 978-1608197651)
(Recommended) Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (ISBN 978-0618871711)