Five Days to Write a Life (Online)

Improving | Non-fiction
There are many ways in which a life story can be presented but this course aims to understand the story you wish to tell – and to help you tell it well.

This stimulating, intensive five-day course is intended for both those beginning their writing journey and those already well on their way to producing a finished manuscript. With a combination of group discussion via Zoom, 'quick sketch' and longer exercises each day, additional reading and structured writing time accessed via Faber Academy's online classroom, plus individual tutorials with Julia, you'll finish the week armed with new technical skills, a greater understanding of your craft and plenty of writing under your belt. Each day we'll use examples from key texts to illustrate our theme for the session and to kick our discussion off.

'The whole experience was fabulous and exceeded my expectations. Julia was amazing... I will never forget it. Thank you!
Student, August 2018

14th - 18th June 2021

Availability: In stock

13 Places

This course runs for five days, 10am–4pm each day, with the afternoons consisting of one-to-one tutorials and/or writing time.

Session 1 — 14 June: The Story You Wish to Tell

Julia Blackburn, Threads; Helen Macdonald, H is For Hawk

We'll begin by thinking about defining the scope and content of your subject, the foundation of any piece of life writing.

Session 2 — 15 June: Finding a Voice

Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road; Simon Gray,Coda; Stephen Bernard, Paper Cuts

Jackie Kay is utterly honest without being confessional, while Simon Gray turns his erratic interior thought processes into a wonderful narrative. In this session, we'll experiment with the impact of using different voices: child or adult; first, second or third person.

Session 3 — 16 June: Deciding on a Structure

Julia Blackburn, The Three of Us; Claire Wilcox, Patch Work

Two family stories which use very different structure to suit very different sorts of parents and childhoods. We'll discuss how to be personal without getting in too deep and how to balance the need for honesty with the wish to not hurt anyone.

Session 4 — 17 June: Short Cuts and Sideways Glances

Penelope Lively, A House Unlocked; Helen Dukes, A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings

A memoir/ life story does not have to be a continuous narrative, nor does it have to be an orthodox narrative. The books mentioned here will start you think about the many possible alternative ways of approaching your subject.

Session 5 — 18 June: The Loneliness of the Long Book

On Thursday we'll have worked out what you want to discuss and have help with during the final session, setting you up for completing the work once the group has dispersed. We'll end with readings from your best pieces.

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Julia Blackburn was born in London in 1948, the daughter of the poet Thomas Blackburn and the...

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman