Memoir and Life Writing

Improving | Non-fiction
How to write a life? Let alone your own? Spend three months asking and answering the questions that a memoirist needs to answer.

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Each session of this stimulating, deep-dive course will include timed writing exercises and group discussions on the topic at hand, whether that’s self, memory, or story. There will also be set homework each week of 1,000 words maximum. Three members of the group, in rotation, will share their work with the group so that we can discuss successes, difficulties and how to move our work forward. One of the most informative ways of improving our own writing is finding solutions for others.

Over the course of three months, Miranda will lead sessions on planning, research, structuring and editing memoir and life writing, using short writing exercises that can be included as building-blocks within your own work in progress, plus workshops on individual students' writing. The course will also include a session with a Faber Non-Fiction editor.

Excerpts from the reading list will be used in class to give a grounding for the discussion around memoir and writing. The suggested reading and my own A Book of Untruths are recommended to give us inspiration and a context for the ideas. A wider range of books will be discussed as the course progresses to inform the projects students are writing.

Alan Bennett – Untold Stories (Emotion & How to Hide It)

Augustine Burroughs - Running with Scissors (Memory)

Sujatha Gidla – Ants Amongst Elephants (Finding Your Voice)

Laura Cummings – On Chapel Sands (What’s the Story?)

Marguerite Duras – The Lover (Finding your Self)

Maxine Hong Kingston – The Woman Warrior (Truth or Fiction)

Blake Morrison – When did you last see your Father? (Ethics)

Maggie O’Farrell – I am, I am, I am (Organising the Self)

David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day (Who are your Characters?)

30th April 2020 - 16th July 2020

Availability: In stock

6 Places

Note: There are twelve places available on this course. Sessions take place from 10.30–12.30pm on a Thursday morning. Tea and biscuits will be available from 10.15am

Session 1 (Thursday 30 April): Introductory session – The nature and scope of life writing. Learning where you are with your work and what you want and expect from the course.

Session 2: Finding your Self & is there a Split?

Session 3: Truth or Fiction? A tenuous line.

Session 4: Organising the Self.

Session 5: Who are your Characters?

Session 6: What’s the Story?

Session 7: Memory as brilliant, yet fragile resource.

Session 8: Emotion & how to hide it.

Session 9: Ethics & exploiting those you love.

Session 10–11: We'll explore aspects you wish to develop further, based on what has been achieved so far.

Session 12: What Next?

Note: the subject matter of sessions as listed above is a guide only. The exact course content will be finalized according to the experience and interests of the group and guest speaker availability. The detail of the course content is at the discretion of the Course Directors and the Faber Academy.

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Miranda Doyle's family come from the tiny island of Coney in Sligo Bay. She grew up in Edinburgh alongside three brothers and a suspicious number of i...



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