This is a course for students working on memoirs and personal essays. We’ll be focused on generating new work, honing our revision abilities, finding the right moments to excavate, and learning how to shape those stories into writing that moves readers.
Writers of memoir and personal essay are engaged in a process of uncovering—of exposing. The process is a delicate one, and in this workshop participants will cultivate a supportive, helpful, and honest environment in which you’ll show up each week to offer each other perspective and guidance. We’ll discuss craft elements like chronology, structure, description, and how to build tension alongside student-written and published works.
Students can expect weekly writing exercises, readings from contemporary creative nonfiction writers, the opportunity to be workshopped twice, a discussion about the path to publication, and a one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss works-in-progress and writing goals.
- intensive peer and instructor feedback on two memoir submissions
- one private conference (via phone or Skype) with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- the support of a nurturing community of writers and readers and access to an engaged mentor
- greater familiarity with contemporary nonfiction writing
- strategies for using time on the page, and setting your own clock as a memoirist
- exclusive access to our alumni newsletter, a monthly roundup of submission opportunities (prizes, residencies, lit mags, grants, and more), plus a 10% discount on all future classes
- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page
Week 1: Intros, scheduling, talk about writing processes and goals
Week 2: Structure and chronology, workshop #1
Week 3: Scene, workshop #2
Week 4: Description, workshop #3
Week 5: Flow and tension, workshop #4
Week 6: Pitching, queries, agents, publishing advice, workshop #5
Lily Brooks-Dalton is the author of the memoir, Motorcycles I've Loved (Riverhead, 2015), which was an Oregon Book Award finalist, and the novel, Good Morning, Midnight (Random House, 2016). Her shorter works have appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Toast, among others, and she is a recipient of fellowships from The Studios of Key West and The Kerouac Project.
“Lily Brooks-Dalton has changed me as a writer and teacher for the better. She brings with her, to everything she does, an intellect, internal drive, and an open-heartedness towards writing, writers, and readers that we all would be lucky to have near us for as long as we can.”
“Lily is an inquisitive, intentional, and passionate educator. She makes an effort to understand, appreciate, and know her students. By means of thoughtful one-on-one conversations, a diversity of curricula and assignments, and honest classroom management, she meets students where they are—as writers and as individuals—and encourages them to grow.”
“What the PCT is to Cheryl Strayed, the open road is to Brooks-Dalton.”
“Lily Brooks-Dalton is wonderful, fresh on the scene with a big heart, a fierce spirit, a writer’s eye, and a lovely sense of humor.”
“Exquisite… A beautifully written, sparse post-apocalyptic novel that explores memory, loss and identity.”
“GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it's the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart."