Memoir Workshop

For online writing courses, please visit

There are no in-person Memoir & Narrative Nonfiction Workshops currently scheduled. If you’re interested in being on the notification list for workshops or want to schedule one for your group or area, please fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page.


This course, titled First Person, focuses on memoir and narrative nonfiction as keys to understanding and answering: “How are we to live?” and “How are we to live together?” “Memoir” comes from Old French “memoire” meaning “memory.” The best of this genre follow their deep dives into past by surfacing with discoveries that touch the present and future of readers’ lives. The best narrative nonfiction grabs our attention through story-telling techniques, enters our hearts and minds using craft elements found in fiction, and presents pathways to exploring old and new questions.

We all have personal tales to tell and points of view to express. As writers, however, we need to do more than be interesting to ourselves or have worthy ideas. We must frame our experiences in order to transform our own lives and inspire readers toward their personal investigations and meaningful actions.

Sessions include: Discussion of selected, guided reading from the list, examples of well-crafted prose, compelling narrative structures, and transformative themes, along with visual writing tools and aids, and followup activities to challenge your writing practice and propel your projects forward.

BOOK LIST ~ Selected Reading

Read any of these books, as interests you and informs your own writing. Memoir and narrative nonfiction projects can be inspired by life’s dark recesses or joys, and by writing “what you know,” as well as “what you want to learn about.”

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, Bill Bryson
My kid days were pretty good ones, on the whole.

An American Childhood, Annie Dillard
When everything else has gone from my brain—the President’s name, the state capitals, the neighborhoods where I lived, and then my own name and what I was on earth I sought, and then at length the faces of my friends, and finally the faces of my family—when all this has dissolved, what will be left, I believe, is topology: the dreaming memory of land as it lay this way and that.

The Liars’ Club: A Memoir, Mary Karr
My sharpest memory is of a single instant surrounded by dark.

On Writing, Stephen King
I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liars’ Club.

Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born.

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World, Michael Pollan
The seeds of this book were first planted in my garden—while I was panting seeds, as a matter of fact.

Ruined by Reading, Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Rarely does the daily paper move me to reexamine my life.


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