Writing a memoir can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to. In this twelve-week master class for writers at every stage of the memoir-writing process—from the first couple of chapters to finished draft—we will dissect the craft and creation of the memoir, with the hopes of better understanding how to write our own. To ensure that every student gets focused and rigorous attention on their work, this class is limited to six writers.
While you do not need a full draft to apply for the memoir generator, writers should have a project in mind and at least a few pages of a work-in-progress. The class will be built to spark new work and generate ideas as much as to refine existing material. All genres and styles of writing are welcome; in this workshop, as in all Catapult classes, we will read each project on its own terms, taking into consideration the aims and goals of the writer. Though critique will be keen and precise, we will celebrate the small successes along the way, making sure that all writers leave motivated and with a sense of direction.
Writers will graduate this class with a first (or most of a) full draft of a memoir as well as the necessary tools to revise their memoir into its clearest and most powerful form. The last live chat will include a virtual meet and greet with leading literary agents, and every writer will have the chance to pitch their work and make valuable connections.
We will alternate weeks between craft discussions—in which we’ll analyze subjects like underlying themes, character development, narrative voice, and style, while developing a shared vocabulary for discussing each other’s works—and workshops. We will also address additional elements such as structure and the lines between fact, truth, and narrative specific to memoir.
For the first six workshops, two writers will submit 50-100 pages of their books. The final six workshops will be individual, with just one writer up for discussion. We will read up to 300 pages—either starting from the beginning, if revisions have been made to the earlier sections, or from the point where the previous submission left off. Writers should be prepared to give thorough feedback on each other’s work in the form of a typed letter of no fewer than 500 words—line edits and in line comments are not mandatory, but are encouraged.
The instructor will deliver her feedback in private meetings that follow each workshop—meaning each student gets two one-on-one meetings—and will also submit one typed editorial memo with an specific suggestions for revision at the end of the course.
To apply, please submit the first chapter of your work-in-progress (up to 25 pages). Writers should be prepared to workshop 25-100 pages of their memoir draft by the time the course begins.
*No class July 4th
Christine Hyung-Oak Lee is the author of a memoir, Tell Me Everything You Don't Remember, and a novel, The Golem of Seoul, forthcoming from Ecco/Harper Collins. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Guernica, The Rumpus, The New York Times, and BuzzFeed, among other publications. She is Deputy Managing Editor at The Rumpus.
“Christine’s workshop was the best one I’ve attended in years. In other classes, I’ve felt judged, small, trapped. In Christine’s class, I felt valued and free to explore and experiment in a safe but constructive environment. She had seemingly tireless energy each and every class, and a genuine desire to expand our knowledge on the craft of writing fiction. She stayed upbeat in the face of difficult subjects while also critiquing in a gentle and firm way that promoted our projects rather than stifling them.”
“Lee excavates her life with the care of an archeologist in this stunning memoir...Her account is lyrical, honest, darkly comic, surprising, and transcendent in the way it redefines the importance of family history, memory, and what of it we choose to hold with us. A beautiful book.”
“The stuff of poetry and of nightmares… [Lee] investigates her broken brain with the help of a journal, beautifully capturing the helplessness, frustration, and comic absurdity (yes, a book about a stroke can be funny!) of navigating life after your world has been torn apart.”
“A brave, encouraging, genuine work of healing discovery that shows us the ordinary, daily effort it takes to make a shattered self cohere.”