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From Memory to Story: 

Memoir/Personal Essay Workshop 

Dates: 8 Thursdays, March 21 - May 9
Time: 7 pm - 9 pm 
Instructor: Elizabeth Scarboro
Ages: Adult 
Genre: Nonfiction 
Price: $475 

“A single image can split open the hard seed of the past.”  --Mary Karr


In this memoir workshop, we’ll sharpen our powers of observation as we look back in time, and find new routes to personal narrative. Rather than getting to stories by recounting events, we’ll take a short cut, using images that have a hold on us -- half buried treasure, half landmine -- to catapult us into story. We’ll find the underlying narrative drive in our personal stories, and experiment with ways to reveal it to its full effect.


As we develop our own writing, we’ll read published pieces for insight, examining how writers build from image, play with vantage point, and turn memory into story. Along the way we’ll discuss the urgent questions of our genre. What does it mean to write honestly? How do we depict people dear to us in their full complexity? How do we live with (and even capitalize on) the fact that our sense of the past is constantly shifting, even as we try to pin it down?


Students will generate new material through short guided exercises, which we’ll share informally. We’ll also share work more formally in our writing workshop, where we’ll offer each other thoughtful feedback. Whether you are just beginning as a writer or halfway through your memoir, this class will give you the chance to shape the stories you most want to tell.

Music of the Mind

Elizabeth Scarboro is the author of My Foreign Cities, A Memoir, which was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the San Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal. Her essays have appeared in many places, including the New York Times, the Bellevue Literary Review, and the Telegraph. She is also the author of two novels for children, The Secret Language of the SB and Phoenix Upside Down. Her writing has received the Chautauqua Prize and the Olga and Paul Menn Award for Fiction. She has taught writing to students of all ages, and is currently a literacy coach at Washington Elementary in Berkeley, where she hopes to help her students become as crazy about reading as she is.

More about Liz:

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