Memoir Writing Project Specifics
Led by Nicole Helget
Some memoirs span the length of a single day. Others cast a line into a year or two-long experience. Still others, such as one of my favorite’s, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, begin with the storyteller’s earliest memories in toddlerhood and then pick and choose moments all the way until the storyteller’s 60th year. Creative Nonfiction can take the form of an essay collection, a deeply researched story, a blend of poetry and prose, or a cookbook in stories, for instance. No matter how much time or what shape your manuscript covers, I’m making a bet that with the support and encouragement from this class, you can get your book finished in one year.
That’s the first lesson of this year-long course. The hundred other lessons that follow will take into account everything from how to begin to how to end, what to include and what to cut, if and how to include documents, modes of delivery, characterization, dialogue, setting, language, voice, purpose, idea, metaphor, conflict, arc, and tone, and when honesty is good and when honesty is going to get you in trouble, and what is honesty in memoir anyway? Is it emotional truth? Is a recreated memory from age five honest? Should you tell the reader when you’re recreating memories? Or is the only honesty the strict, verifiable factual kind? The Memoir/CNF Writing Project will help you navigate these concerns and hopefully help you stave off writerly existential crises as you write your way toward your completed manuscript. Along the way, we’ll also help you design a plan of action for its life after the book is done.
In addition to class meetings, over the course of the year long program, each participant will have 4 one-to-one meetings with Nicole to consult on individual memoir projects. This includes a final manuscript consultation session that will take place in December or January (or possibly early February 2020), once Nicole has had a chance to read and critique each manuscript. These will be handed in on the final day of the fall/winter term class session—December 8, 2020.
The year long Memoir/Nonfiction Writing Project will culminate in a final public reading at the Loft on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Each participant will be able to read a 5-7 minute section of their completed memoir/nonfiction project.