THE MEMOIR CLASS & WORKSHOP IS FULL. However, use the contact form below if you are interested in registering for a similar class after June 2017. Thank you!


Memoir class & workshop

Class Description: In this 6-week course, we'll read and discuss short pieces of published memoirs, explore our memories for material, and write a combination of short, generative exercises and one full-length short memoir or personal essay (5-8 pages). We'll also workshop each other's writing, providing one another the generous feedback essential for improving our work.

Unlike autobiography, which moves in a dutiful line from birth to fame, memoir narrows the lens, focusing on a time in the writer's life that was unusually vivid. Memoir mines the past, examining it for shape and meaning, in the belief that from that personal act a larger, communal, and universal meaning can emerge. Memoirs move us not because they are self-indulgent, but because they are other-indulgent, and the other they indulge is us, with our parallel inner stories of loss and confusion and mixed emotions. Memoir is not really focused on the memories of "things" themselves, but how contemplation of these things allows us to understand something anew.

This course will jump-start your journey toward achieving your writing goals, whether those include publication or simply personal enjoyment and enrichment. Every life contains sparkling, important stories. Come share yours.

Must be willing to do short assignments outside of class, including reading and commenting on peer writing, occasionally reading short published memoirs, and drafting one complete essay by the end of the course (5-8 pages). 

Instructor: Jessica Hendry Nelson is the author of the memoir-in-essays If Only You People Could Follow Directions, which was selected as a best debut book by the Indies Introduce New Voices program, the Indies Next List by the American Booksellers' Association, named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Review, received starred reviews in Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly, and reviewed nationally in print and on NPR—including twice in (O) Oprah Magazine. It was also a finalist for the Vermont Book Award. Her work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Carolina Quarterly, Columbia Journal, Crab Orchard Review, PANK, Drunken Boat and elsewhere. Her next book of creative writing is a collection of essays about women and wonder.

Jessica teaches in the MFA Program in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the MFA Program at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, Champlain College, and serves as the Managing & Nonfiction editor of Green Mountains Review. She has been teaching creative writing for over eight years in colleges and universities and in the community. Her students and clients have had their work published and won awards and residencies. After her husband, dog, family, friends, reading, traveling, writing, cheese, and 80s-style aerobics classes, teaching is the great love of her life.

Level: All

Dates / Duration: 6 weeks, Wednesdays from 6:30 - 8:30 PM, starting May 10th, 2017. (5/10, 5/17, 5/24, 5/31, 6/7, 6/14)

Location: My home (Waterbury, VT)

Fee: $375 (a deposit of $75 is due by 5/1 to hold your place. $300 is due on the first day of class)

Register and/or ask questions by filling out the form below. 

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