Online | Nonfiction | Memoir | Workshop

The Online Memoir Generator: 12 Months to a Full Draft Phase 3

Isn’t it time you transformed your ideas or handful of unfinished pages into a finished memoir?

Completing a book on your own is an unwieldy, overwhelming feat. I spent 10 years on my memoir, and I wish I had the structure and community we’ll be able to create in this year long generative class. We’ll be breaking down your book project into phases, providing effective craft lessons, peer feedback, and support for the emotional process of writing a vulnerable and urgent memoir.

I love memoir writing: finding the story, grappling with conflict on the page, reinventing complex characters, and polishing a narrative and emotional arc. After finishing my book, I am astounded at what I’ve learned: about writing, craft, myself. Teaching from experience, I’m passionate about supporting and providing a community for nonfiction writers on this challenging, but incredibly rewarding path. My goal will be to prepare you to navigate the ever-changing genre of memoir, while being cognizant of the conversations and trends in the publishing industry.

At Catapult, we believe there’s a better—or at least less lonely—way to write a memoir. Our competitive 12-month memoir writing course is designed to help you generate and refine a submission-ready draft in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. Alongside a group of talented peers and under the guidance of a published memoirist and accomplished mentor, you will spend a year thinking deeply about how to build your story from the ground up. In addition to rigorous craft lessons on structure, theme, voice, POV, and other elements of the memoir, this course will include thorough workshops that invite author participation and questions and careful analysis of notable published work. We will study work by luminaries such as Jo Ann Beard, Meghan Daum, Jacquira Diaz, Chang Rae Lee, Vivian Gornick, Nick Flynn, Kiese Laymon, Thi Bui, and Melissa Febos, among others. You will also be exposed to accessible, invaluable information about the world of publishing; I will take you behind the scenes of what writing and publishing a memoir really looks like.

This class is open to writers of all genres and forms of memoir but is best suited to those with a clear idea of what they want to work on over the course of the year. The program will be divided into three phases, each focusing on a different element of the writing process and building upon earlier lessons. Each phase will feature guest visitors—debut memoirists, seasoned writers, literary agents, and literary nonfiction editors from big houses and small—whose visits serve to offer students a wealth of insights on how you can best write and publish your debut.

We believe the writing process is sacred and should be protected from industry concerns in the early stages. With that in mind, phase one will focus on helping you find and define your story; phase two, on finishing and refining your draft. We also believe that the opaque barriers between the publishing industry and creative writing classes should be broken down, and that writers who hope to publish can be better served by writing education that treats publishing like a challenging, but achievable, goal. For that reason, phase three will center on navigating the literary marketplace.

Throughout the year, class will meet for 120 hours (e.g., 40 times for three hours per session) with several breaks for holidays and “between” phases. Writers will graduate the 12-month memoir generator with a substantial number of new pages, a better understanding of the literary marketplace, valuable connections, and productive and strategic work habits that will transform their writing lives moving forward.

Anna Qu

Anna Qu is the author of Made In China: A Memoir of Love and Labor.  Her work has appeared in the Lithub, Poets & Writers, Threepenny Review, Lumina, Kartika, Kweli, and Vol.1 Brooklyn, among others. She is the 2023 Black Mountain Institute Shearing Fellow and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.


"Anna masterfully evokes her childhood with a power and grace that speak of an experience that no one should ever have to endure. This moving and unforgettable memoir needs to be read by everyone."

Nicole Dennis-Benn author of PATSY

"Made in China is a sympathetic, brave portrayal of the confusions, difficulties, and hurts that come with growing up between worlds. Anna Qu's writing about her journey as an immigrant deftly shows how our origins—of economic status, of country—have lasting effects on the ways we approach family, work, and self. I was captivated and moved by her story."

Alexandra Chang author of DAYS OF DISTRACTION

"Made in China is an important story told with intelligence and heart, and a study of discipline as a form of devotion—devotion to a mother, to a legacy, to our own dreams and to those of others, to being good. So much of American rhetoric is about what we are owed. This graceful memoir is about the much trickier problem of what we deserve. Which is, in the end, brightest love."

Lacy Crawford author of NOTES ON A SILENCING

"Anna Qu has written a thoroughly engrossing and nuanced memoir about triumph over trauma and the meaning of home. Made in China brings the immigrant experience to life and makes you root for Anna. A must read."


“Anna was a wonderful teacher and I really enjoyed her class. She gave generous and thoughtful feedback on my writing and I appreciated the way she taught the elements of craft so that I could easily recognize and use them in the pieces I was reading and writing throughout the course. She also guided the class discussions with the utmost care and attention, creating a welcoming and fertile space for ideas. And thanks to her balanced approach, I had plenty of room to discover on my own while feeling supported by her expertise and insights. My class with Anna was exactly what I needed to reconnect with my love for writing and begin writing again after a long hiatus.”

Joohee Chung former student

“Anna provided an insightful and inviting workshop experience; one in which I was excited to sign up for another right away which I did. I found the lessons to be a great introduction to the craft. Most of all, I feel more excited and better equipped to go on and continue my writing.”

Charles Mansfield former student