CNF 92 — Memoir Workshop: How to Keep Your Story Going
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 4 weeks
Date(s): Jan 17—Feb 7
Time: 6:30—8:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 19
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Instructor(s): Monica Wesolowska
Class Recording Available: No
You’ve shouldered your backpack and bravely set out to write a memoir, but a few miles into your journey the voice inside your head is screaming, as Cheryl Strayed puts it in Wild, “What have I gotten myself into?” If so, you’re not alone. No matter how talented you are, no matter how wild your life has been, no matter how many good pages you’ve written so far, you may have stalled. This course will offer help. We will start by addressing a key question: What really is stopping you? With the help of writing exercises, we will work to break through emotional barriers. We will review essential craft components, including how to plot, deal with backstory, and establish point of view. Do you have the right foundation? Should you plan in advance or discover where you’re going as you write? What does it mean to head for the climax? Realizing that every story is different, we will examine a variety of strategies from successful memoirists such as Cheryl Strayed, Andrew X. Pham, Jeanette Walls, and Kiese Laymon to see what inspires you. As Strayed puts it, “Ask yourself: What is the best I can do? And then do that.” With a fresh attitude and new craft supplies, you will regain your stamina to keep your story going.
This course is appropriate for writers of all experience levels. It can be taken independently or following the completion of CNF 91/WSP 91: “How to Start Your Story: A Memoir Workshop.”
Monica Wesolowska is the author of the memoir Holding Silvan: A Brief Life (named a Best Book of 2013 by The Boston Globe and Library Journal) as well as two children's picture books, Leo + Lea and Elbert in the Air. Her essays and short stories have been published in a wide variety of venues, including the "Modern Love" column of The New York Times. A former fellow at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, she has taught creative writing for over two decades at UC Berkeley Extension, Stanford Continuing Studies, Left Margin Lit, and elsewhere around the Bay Area. She also works one-on-one with clients as an independent editor.
Textbooks for this course:
There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.