This class will focus on the foundation of successful memoir writing which should begin with two questions: Why am I telling this story? And how will I tell it? We'll focus on idea generation, and the principles of craft and form. Whether you are just beginning the process or have already produced some pages, this class will help you define and focus your story. Classes will consist of discussion of assigned readings and student workshops. I view workshops and class discussion to be collaborative processes that will generate conversation about structure, POV, and achieving maximum clarity in your work.
-intensive peer and instructor feedback on two memoir submissions
-one private conference 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 memoir writing including personal essays that are structured “non-traditionally” and/or grounded in reportage
-strategies for dealing with invasive question about personal writing (and the comments!) as well as how to navigate the difficult terrain of writing about loved ones
-more confidence as a writer, on and off the page
Leah Carroll lives in Brooklyn. She is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony. Her essays and criticism have appeared in publications including the New York Times, NYMag.com, Billboard, and Guernica. She is the author of DOWN CITY: A Daughter's Story of Love, Memory, and Murder.
"Leah Carroll’s Down City drops us into a family story heavy with secrets and crackling with regret. Hers is a portrait of two parents straining desperately to find their better angels, and a daughter whose resilience is tested again and again. The fact that she proves herself both survivor and frank and generous curator of their story is a great gift, both to their memory and to readers alike."
"Leah Carroll's Rhode Island is seedy, charismatic, broke-down, and irresistible: so much like the characters in her gripping heartbreak of a memoir. Only a writer as brave in her heart as she is on the page could make us love the ghosts she chases through police reports, memory, and the desolate landmarks of her own tragedy. Leah Carroll is that writer, proving that no matter who haunts you or for how long, only forgiveness can set you free."
"Carroll's understated prose complements this daunting material, and her struggles as an unhappy, rebellious teen seem almost idyllic in contrast to the dysfunction and tragedy that shadow her... Carroll's determined grappling with the burden of her past is honestly and skillfully done."
"Leah is a brilliant writer. She sees the hilarity in the macabre and the absurd in the mundane. She’s a generous collaborator and a discerning teacher."
"Leah knows what makes a piece of writing sing. In complex pieces where it would be easy to get lost, Leah finds, and helps other writers to find, the heart of the argument or the thread of the narrative, and puts it at the center of the work where it belongs."