fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Spring Quarter

Spring Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Apr 01
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Creative Writing

CNF 98 W — Memoir Workshop: Bookend Your Story

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 7
Refund Deadline: Apr 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $1000
Instructor(s): Liza Monroy
Limit: 19
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Apr 1—Jun 7
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 4
3 Units
Liza Monroy
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
When writing a memoir, it can be tempting to endlessly revise your beginning until it’s “perfect,” with a reader-grabbing voice and clearly established stakes that convey the “about-ness” of the story without dwelling there. However, revising our memoir beginnings to perfection can become a form of procrastination that stalls progress and leaves the middle of the narrative unexplored, often because we aren’t yet sure what goes there.

In this course, you will embark on a transformative journey where you will write and workshop not only the first 2,500 words of your memoir but also the closing 2,500 words, establishing a clear endpoint on the page. This approach will serve as your guiding light, eventually empowering you to navigate the murky middle of the narrative by providing a solid sense of your story’s destination (of course revisable later on, as desired). Weekly writing assignments will be complemented by the exploration of excerpts from renowned memoirs by authors such as Joan Didion, Ann Patchett, Nick Flynn, Melissa Febos, and others, focusing particularly on their masterful beginnings and endings. You will leave the course with a refined opening and ending and a map for the chapters in between, so that you can stop tinkering with the beginning and confidently power through the whole book.


Liza Monroy's books include two that launched from The New York Times “Modern Love" columns. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, O, Marie Claire, Longreads, Newsweek, Self, and Jezebel, among others. She received an MFA in nonfiction from the Columbia School of the Arts and has taught writing at Columbia and UC Santa Cruz.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Ann Patchett, Truth & Beauty (ISBN 978-0060572150 )
(Required) Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night In Suck City (ISBN 978-0393329407)
(Required) Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (ISBN 978-1400078431)
(Required) Melissa Febos, Whip Smart: The True Story of a Secret Life (ISBN 978-0312583781)