The Story Beneath Your Story: Exposing and Exploring Your Memoir’s Deeper Message
Memoirists face two essential tasks: First, to tell the story of plotted story of action, the narrative of what happened. Second, to tell the story of one’s own change and growth over time, and the story of what it all means. That second story is where the author’s larger message is conveyed, elevating one person’s experience from the unique and personal to the universal and shared. It reveals what your story is about.
But how do we extract that deeper message from a story, and articulate it to readers in a meaningful way? And how can we expect to achieve this, if we haven’t yet identified what that larger message is?
As Vivian Gornick has emphasized, what happened to an author is not what matters. What matters is what the author makes of those experiences. This class will help you clarify what you make of your own story, and then give you tools for sharing these insights with readers. Together, we’ll identify the underlying themes and archetypes of your nonfiction narrative. We’ll also work on creating passages of reflection and analysis that will resonate deeply with readers. Come to this workshop with pages you’ve already polished, or first-draft work to expand upon and revise. Plan to share what you write during the week, and to give to other students as much as you’ll receive in return.
In this workshop, we will generate new writing through in-class exercises and out-of-class assignments; receive and provide feedback on writing you produce during our week.