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Do you have a personal story you want to tell but you aren’t sure where to start?
This is the perfect class package for anyone getting ready to start their memoir. The package kicks off with all the basics you need to know about writing a memoir, then you’ll spend the rest of the month honing various aspects of your craft, including resonance, character development, and working with memories. You’ll walk away from these four classes with all the tools and knowledge you need to tell your story.
Everyone who purchases the package will also be invited to an exclusive class package meet-up.
Before purchasing, be sure to check the dates. As always, there are no refunds on classes.
Each class can be purchased individually by clicking on the class title.
Can’t make it to every class? No worries! All registrants will have access to the class recordings for the duration of the package, plus an additional month.
Saturday, April 2, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
Starting a memoir and looking for strategies for generating material and finding structure?
The most haunting memoirs aren’t just autobiographies. Instead, they pivot on a subject that mystifies and confounds the writer, about which they cannot quite make up their mind.
In this class, you’ll begin to mine your life for material and work through a series of generative prompts designed to turn rich, messy fragments into surprising and powerful prose. We’ll steal liberally from the sensory world of poetry, the narrative world of fiction, and the fact-driven world of journalism, even as we plumb the depths of interior life. Along the way, you’ll learn how to build a strong narrative arc, write vivid scenes, and prioritize the details and images that make prose come alive.
All levels of experience are welcome, but this course will be particularly helpful for writers who are in the earliest stages of a memoir project.
Jessica Wilbanks is the author of When I Spoke in Tongues, a memoir about faith and its loss. She has received a Pushcart Prize as well as creative nonfiction awards from Ninth Letter, Sycamore Review, Redivider, and Ruminate magazine. Her essays have received Notable Mentions in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and she was selected as a finalist for the PEN annual Literary Award in Journalism. Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast.
Saturday, April 16, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
Sometimes, stepping outside yourself is the hardest part.
Stepping outside of your story and connecting it to larger universal themes is one of the most difficult aspects of writing personal narratives. And if you have a unique story that you can’t find on the shelf, it can be even harder to figure out how to make sure readers will resonate with your work. In this class, we will look at examples of authors who have unique stories and how they turned those individual and unique experiences into stories with a universal appeal. We will engage in creative writing prompts that will help tease out the universal themes in our work while not losing sight of the individual lived experiences that make each of us unique.
Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, educator, playwright and award winning author. Mendez has had poetry and essays published in numerous journals and anthologies including the YA anthology Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed (Flatiron). She is the author of two multi-genre collections Island of Dreams(Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award, and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry(Arte Publico Press, 2018). Her debut poetry collection City Without Altar will be released in 2022(Noemi Press) and her debut middle grade novel in verse Aniana del Mar Jumps In (Dial) will be released in 2023. Her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas (Arte Público Press) is out now. She has received fellowships from Canto Mundo, Macondo and the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop among others. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a University of Houston alumni.
Saturday, April 30, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
When writing memoir, it’s essential to explore how character development contributes to a compelling narrative.
This class will provide multiple opportunities for participants to consider how change and curiosity relate to character development for the narrator as well as the other individuals in the story. We will explore the roles of research, rumination, and empathy as they add meaning and layers to our personal journeys. We will read, write, discuss, imagine, connect, and grow. Instruction will include lecture, writing prompts, conversation, reflection, and confidence-building exercises.
Charlotte Gullick is Chair of the Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College. She holds BA in Literature/Creative Writing from UC Santa Cruz and a MA in English/Creative Writing from UC Davis as well as a MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her awards include a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship for Fiction, a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, and residencies at MacDowell and Ragdale. She is the author of the novel By Way of Water.
“Tackling the Problems of Memory in Memoir” with Rachel Starnes
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
An examination of the formation of memories and the battle over contentious narratives.
This class will examine the problem of memory by drawing on a blend of literature, art, and neuroscience in order to grapple with the question of how one selects, recounts, and handles moments of imperfect memory in the writing of memoir. Often, the stakes of these moments are high and various conflicting versions of a story exist. Did it really happen that way? Why do the witnesses disagree, and what does this mean for how I tell the story? At the heart of the issue is the question, “How does the memoirist acknowledge the flawed nature of memory while constructing a reliable narrative persona?”
We will discuss the difference, both in neurobiological terms and literary ones, between “objective truth” and “narrative truth,” and reveal ways in which the writer can help a reader (and is, indeed, obligated to) understand the difference between the two. Well-known scandals and shifting trends within the genre will be discussed, and participants will come away with a variety of best practices for handling reconstructed memories and the impacts of these moments on the larger course of a developing memoir.
Rachel Starnes is the author of The War at Home: A Wife’s Search for Peace (and Other Missions Impossible) published by Penguin Books in 2016. She is the daughter of an oil rigger, a former military spouse, the mother of two boys, and has lived in Scotland, Texas, Saudi Arabia, Florida, Nevada, and California. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, her essays have appeared in Front Porch Journal, Colorado Review, and O Magazine, and she has been a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air.
Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.
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Class & Event Registration Policy
Once a purchase has been made, registrations are not refundable and cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a registration and then find you cannot attend the class or event, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know the name and contact information for the person who will be using the registration so that we can update the class or event roster.
Credit Card Transaction Handling Fee Policy
All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee. If you’d prefer to pay by check for membership, a class, or an event, you can use the provided forms on the membership or event pages and mail to: WLT, P.O. Box 14355, Austin, TX, 78704.
HOW WLT CLASSES WORK:
Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.
If you haven’t taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to email the WLT staff at email@example.com if you’d like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.
HOW ONLINE CLASSES WORK:
Once you register for the class, you’ll receive an email with detailed instructions no later than 48 hours before the class date. You should expect 2-2.5 hours of direct teaching and 30 minutes of Q&A (for three hours total). If you need to leave the class early or can’t attend the class on that date, all registrants will have access to the recording for one month after the class date. No microphone or camera required, just an Internet connection capable of streaming video. All online classes are hosted on Zoom. To learn more about how Zoom works, click HERE.
Plan to log in to the online platform an hour before the class so that you can update your software or any other settings required to access the platform. (Updates usually only take a few minutes, but you don’t want to wait until the beginning of class.) Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.