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

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 25—Dec 4
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 8
Units: 3
Tuition: $665
Instructor(s): Rachael Herron
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 20.
6:30—9:20 pm
Sep 25—Dec 4
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 8
3 Units
Rachael Herron
Please Note: No class on November 20.
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 will 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 will 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 will analyze work by memoirists Mary Karr, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jeannette Walls, Tara Westover, 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.

Please note: The author list is different than what appears in the print catalogue. Students will now analyze work by memoirists Mary Karr, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jeannette Walls, Tara Westover, and Alison Bechdel.

Rachael Herron, Author

Rachael Herron is the author of the memoir A Life in Stitches, the nonfiction manual Fast-Draft Your Memoir, and fourteen novels, most notably 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.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Tara Westover, Educated (ISBN 9780399590504)
(Required) Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (ISBN 9780062223074)
(Required) Cal Newport, Deep Work (ISBN 9781455586677)
(Required) Tanehesi Coates, Between the World and Me (ISBN 9780812993547)
(Required) Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle (ISBN 9781501171581)
(Required) Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (ISBN 9780618871711)