This course is designed for beginners to memoir and creative nonfiction, especially those who write in other genres and have an interest in applying their poetry or fiction sensibilities to creative nonfiction. Weekly exercises and readings will inspire and guide students to new ground where life experiences—from the dramatic to the ordinary—can find meaning in written form. The ethical and philosophical considerations behind personal truth-telling will also be explored, along with emotional and legal implications of writing about real events and real people.
Students will walk away from the course with invention techniques for getting started with memoir, strategies for handling sensitive topics and representing real people, along with personal feedback on works in progress.
This class will meet over our video chat platform. You will need to use Google Chrome to join your class meetings.
- Invention, discovery, and memory-mining techniques to get started
- Strategies from experienced memoirists to overcome fear and other issues of emotion that hold beginners back
- Personal feedback on works in progress from both the instructor and classmates
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Week 0: Welcome, Intros, and Logistics: Short introductory meeting (30 minutes)
Week 1: Discovery: How to choose what to write about and why, how to mine your memory (and stuff!) for material, and how to adapt your writing skills to creative nonfiction
Week 2: Process: How to build and maintain a weekly writing practice and how to research material to add to your work in progress
Week 3: Emotions: How to overcome and use fear in truth-telling along with other emotions that can both help and hinder our progress as writers
Week 4: Feedback: How to give and receive appropriate and helpful feedback on intimate, personal material
Week 5: Publication: How to start sending your work out for publication, legal concerns, and preparation for dealing with the responses to your portrayal of yourself and others
Week 6: Final Week: Individual consultation via Skype or phone with instructor.
Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (winner of the 2009 Iowa Poetry Prize) and Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir (Grove Atlantic, 2016) along with three chapbooks of poetry. Her work has appeared recently in Granta, PENAmerica, Gulf Coast, Fence, and Guernica, and she is the recipient of fellowships from Emory University and the National Endowment of the Arts.
“In BANDIT: A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR, Molly Brodak wrestles with the question of whether telling a true story is a form of erasing it, or at least changing it beyond recognition . . . She’s written a good book, and with good reason.”
“In BANDIT, Brodak ponders her father’s crimes, his absence, what it means to make money, to take it, to be sick, to heal. A poet by training, Brodak writes with great precision and grace, distilling some memories, expanding others; many of her short chapters feel like prose poems. ‘The facts are easy to say; I say them all the time,’ she writes. That alone is unflinching, but what she does here is even braver: to tackle the truth.”
“A prizewinning poet’s account of her convict father and the impact he had on his family . . . Brodak’s story is undeniably compelling, but what makes the book even more fascinating is her in-depth reflection on the gambling habit that drove her father into a life of crime . . . An intelligent, disturbing, and profoundly honest memoir.”
“With her background as a poet, memoirist, and longtime teacher, you couldn't ask for a better person to study alongside. Molly Brodak has an eye and intuition that go far beyond surfaces, conceits, to delve into what is at work within the language, its intent, its multifold possibilities. She's thoughtful and thorough, rigorous and generous, and of a mind that will help you get your work to new depths, even to see the world a new way.”
“She gives students everything they need to succeed at writing and thinking creatively, and pushes them to think about what they are learning in new ways. Her passion for the work is palpable every time she teaches and is completely infectious.”