Writing Ourselves, Writing the World:
Memoir/Personal Essay Workshop
Dates: 6 Wednesdays, September 9 - October 14
Time: 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Instructor: Lauren Markham
Writers of nonfiction are often called to the page in order to excavate our own experiences; it is also the writer’s job to attempt to make sense of the world around us, and of the larger human condition. Strong nonfiction—be it memoir, personal essay, or reported work—is at once deeply particular, and taps into the universal. As writers, how do we ensure that our stories are bigger than just us, and that they resonate with others?
In this class, we’ll use generative exercises, workshop-style feedback sessions, and discussions on published works to expand our skills as nonfiction storytellers, focusing on both style and substance. We’ll look at how scene, exposition, sentence-level craft, and larger structural choices work together to create a narrative whole, and we’ll practice making this happen on the page.
Whether you’re new to writing or are a veteran storyteller wanting support with a current memoir or essay project, this class will provide the opportunity to go deep into your work, probe the purpose and craft of the personal narrative, and hone your skills as a writer.
Lauren Markham is writer and educator based in Berkeley who writes fiction, essays, and literary journalism. Her book, The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life, was published by Crown in 2017, and was the winner of the Ridenhour Prize, the Northern California Book Award, silver medal winner of the California Book Award, shortlisted for a Lukas Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize, and longlisted for a Pen America Award.
Lauren's essays and reportage have appeared in outlets such as Harper’s, Guernica, the New York Times, The Guardian, The New Republic, Orion, and Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is a contributing editor. She has published fiction in Narrative, The American Literary Review, and Drunken Boat. In addition teaching at Left Margin LIT, she also teaches in the MFA in writing programs at Ashland University and the University of San Francisco.