"Maybe the true purpose of my life is for my body, my sensations and my thoughts to become writing, in other words, something intelligible and universal, causing my existence to merge into the lives and heads of other people."
Nobel Prize for Literature winner Annie Ernaux from the "Happening"
The best memoirs—regardless of length–possess honest and intimate portraits from your life.
In this workshop, we’ll look at your work with this idea in mind, discussing issues of tone, style, form and point of view. We’ll also, of course, get into the major issues particular to memoir, such as: how to overcome and write through fears about exposing secrets? how to write from a place of vulnerability? how events can construct identity? how to write about experiences others than your own? Why the delete and backspace keys are your closest allies?
Expect: each participant will send a personal essay or a section from a memoir-in-progress a week before the workshop start date. During the workshop, we will discuss one another’s work very closely, and try to give each writer detailed and useful information about what they’ve written. Our aim is not to criticize, but rather to look at how each piece creates a self on the page, and how we portray others. We’ll think about what’s at stake, about the treatment of time, of description and the evocation of the physical world, about what we love and what we want to see more of.
The workshop will intersperse deep reading of participant work with short writing exercises to encourage different technical possibilities and ways to extract memory. We’ll also look at brief excerpts from some exceptional contemporary memoirs.
Ákos Szolcsányi and Sabrina Small co-founded the Berlin Writers' Guild, a social club for writers that meets monthly in Berlin for the readings, and fosters the local writing community. Their personal essays have been widely published. Ákos's writing piece features the issue 10 of Panel. More about the tutors - here.
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