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

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 27—Dec 6
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 10
Units: 3
Tuition: $660
Instructor(s): Rachael Herron
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 22
On-campus course
6:30—9:20 pm
Sep 27—Dec 6
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 10
3 Units
Rachael Herron
Please Note: No class on November 22
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 get a draft of your memoir written quickly 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, Jeannette Walls, 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, 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, Reprint, 2015 (ISBN 9780062223074)
(Required) Meredith Maran, Why We Write About Ourselves (ISBN 9780142181973)
(Required) Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle (ISBN 9781501171581)
(Recommended) Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (ISBN 9780812993547)
(Recommended) Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Tragicomic (ISBN 9780618871711)
(Recommended) Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor (ISBN 9780061875014)