6 Expert Teachers
6 Fears All Memoirists Face
The Courage to
Bundle Offer: Register for
both classes for $325
++ These are online courses and will be recorded! ++
The Courage to Write Fearlessly
6 Tuesdays: September 20-October 25
4pm Pacific | 7pm Eastern
No one gets the luxury of working on a memoir without facing some kind of fear—the fear of getting it right, of fallout, of getting sued, of not being good enough, or as good as some other writer or author. The small solace here is that others have faced down these fears before you, and there’s great comfort in knowing you’re not alone. In this six-week series, you’ll be treated to five author-teachers—and one lawyer—who will allay some of your concerns and support you to access the courage each and every one of us has to dig deep and tell the truths we know we must share. This class circles our fears, but taps into our courage—the steady antidote that keeps us coming to the page and grounds us in the deeper truth that our convictions and desires are stronger than our doubts and anxieties. Get ready to be buoyed—and to let your roar rip.
• Sessions are on Zoom.
• Each session is 1 hour—40-minute teaching and 20-minute Q&A.
• All sessions are recorded.
Week 1 - SEPTEMBER 20
Overcoming the Fear of Getting It Right
In Foo’s gorgeous new memoir, she grapples, as all memoirists do, with whether what she remembers is true. Was the abuse as bad as she remembers? she muses. In this class, Foo will share with some of the anxieties she grappled with—representing her community, and being the voice of C-PTSD, and the voice of Asian-American trauma. This session will support any writer confronting questions around memory and those nagging what-ifs: What if I’m misremembering? What if people don’t believe me? What if my experience is more singular than I imagine it to be? Stephanie Foo will kick off this series with the support to know that you’re not alone if you’re facing these questions. And she’ll encourage you to stay the course, one sentence at a time.
Week 2 - SEPTEMBER 27
Overcoming the Fear of Overwhelm
Brooke is a structure nerd who comes to memoir from book publishing and can’t wait to share with you all the ways you can stem the tide of overwhelm during the writing of your memoir. This class will focus on structure, outlining, and organization in order to give you the grounding you may not even know you need yet. Embarking on your memoir will feel exhilarating and fun until it doesn’t—and the tips Brooke will provide from her nearly 20 years of supporting memoirists will help you by giving you the necessary stepping stones to keep overwhelm at bay.
Week 3 - October 4
Linda Joy Myers
Overcoming the Fear of Family Fallout
One of the most dreaded things a memoirist faces is what other people are going to think about what you’ve written—and the ones who matter most are our families. Even for those of us who are estranged from families, we may mull over what they’ll think and how they’ll react. We may censor what we write, or paint people in a better light in the hopes of appeasing some of our concerns about other people’s reactions to our personal truth. In this session, Linda Joy Myers, no stranger to family fallout in the aftermath of her own two memoirs, will dive into the considerations every memoirist faces when deciding what to include, what not to include, who might get hurt, and how much other people’s feelings (or your projection of those feelings) should dictate the writing process. This is an important session for any memoirist facing the fear: What will they think?
Week 4 - October 11
Mychal Denzel Smith
Overcoming the Fear of Making Bold Assertions
Most memoirists don’t realize that making bold assertions is scary—until they’re faced with doing exactly that. Mychal Denzel Smith is no stranger to this challenge. His memoir is full of such assertions—about wide-ranging topics surrounding family, politics, pop culture, and more. While memoirists are encouraged to write hard truths, few share about just how terrifying it is to write what you really think. In this class, Smith offers up insight into how to think about what truths belong on the page and why, and also why boldly asserting your thoughts and feelings in your memoir will make your memoir that much more resonant with your readers, and worthwhile.
Week 5 - October 18
Overcoming the Fear of Getting Sued
In this session, we get verified best practices and insights into what you’re allowed and not allowed to write about other people from one of the most well-regarded literary lawyers around. This session will support you to understand the terrain of libel and defamation, and the extent to which you can change names and identifying details to protect yourself—and when that’s not good enough. Kirsch will cover the value of the disclaimer, when and whether to share your work with the people who populate its pages, and what circumstances might merit getting your memoir legally vetted. This will be an invaluable session, and one that will put you in the driver’s seat—and therefore, we hope, more at ease as you consider future publication possibilities.
Week 6 - October 25
Carmen Maria Machado
Overcoming the Fear of Exposure
While every genre generates a certain amount of exposure, memoir is the scariest! In this session, Carmen Maria Machado will talk about the anxieties and realities that stem from self-exposure—from writing to publication. This is a genre that’s demanding so much where self-exposure is concerned, and In the Dream House is a book that goes deep and lays bare intense and intimate emotions and experiences. Carmen will cover what memoirists owe their readers, as well as how you might think about mitigating exposure, what exposure can give and teach you, and what to expect from publishing a work of personal creative nonfiction when it comes to exposure—its benefits and its potential fallouts.
++ These are online courses and will be recorded! ++
Watch Brooke & Linda Joy share what to expect from The Courage to Write Fearlessly:
Mastering Craft: Finding & Making Meaning
4 Tuesdays: November 1-22
4pm Pacific | 7pm Eastern
One definition of memoir is that it’s any story with a first-person narrative in which the central goal is to find and make meaning. With that understanding in hand, this four-week master class will focus on how we do that in our writing. Each class will build upon the next in an effort to support students to dig for, uncover, show, and create meaning. The meaning is the secret sauce—and figuring out your way of showcasing that meaning to your readers is the key to taking your memoir to new heights. We want to help you get there!
Class 1. Show and Tell (November 1)
You’ve undoubtedly heard the adage, Show, Don’t Tell, and we’re going to debunk that idea in this opening week because in memoir you must show and tell. We’ll teach you how to show—in scene, through sensory details, and avoiding exposition, and also how and where to tell—in your observations, your opinions, your musings, and even through your research. Memoir often reads like fiction, but it’s not fiction, so there’s a place for both showing and telling, and we hope this class will set you on a course to do both well.
Class 2. Advanced Narration (November 8)
We’ve taught plenty of narration classes, but here we’re diving deep—since it’s a master class after all. If you’re ready for clarity and direction about the narrative voice, storytelling, where you’re supposed to land in your narration (hint: in scene), and how to stay within the container of your chosen time frame, this class will open up whole new layers of understanding. We’re here to keep you grounded—in scene and in story, and confident in your narrative direction on the page.
Class 3. Reflection and Takeaway (November 15)
Without reflection, your memoir has no insights, no offering to your reader for what what you’re writing matters—to you, to them, to the human condition. In short, reflection is essential to the genre. And yet, some people are uncomfortable revealing how they feel, some writers worry about being heavy-handed, and others can be too reflective in their writing, not leaving enough space for scene (and what happened) to unfold. Takeaway is a form of reflection that’s not necessary to memoir, but definitely makes it sing. In this class we’ll give you what you need to wrap your mind around reflection—how and where to do it, and how often.
Class 4. Meaning-making (November 22)
One definition of memoir is that it’s a first-person narrative that centers finding and making meaning. As such, this final course in the series will ask you to consider what meaning are you finding and making in your own work. We’ll talk about the importance of actually making meaning as you write—in other words, creating meaning on the page as you start to piece together ideas, patterns, and motivations that you might not have previously known. We encourage giving yourself creative license to make connections and to leave your reader with satisfying universal truths—and we’ll talk about how you can execute those gems, and give yourself permission to be more expansive in your understanding of emotional truth in memoir.
• Sessions are on Zoom.
• Each session is 1 hour.
• This course is taught by Brooke Warner & Linda Joy Myers
• All sessions are recorded.
Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, among others. Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Vogue, This American Life, The Believer, Guernica, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.
Stephanie Foo is the author of What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma. She has written for Vox, The New York Times and The Atlantic. She worked as a radio producer for This American Life and Snap Judgment, and her stories aired on Reply All, 99% Invisible, Radiolab. A noted speaker and instructor, she has taught at Columbia University and has spoken at venues from Sundance Film Festival to the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of the New York Times bestseller Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching and Stakes Is High, winner of the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. He is a Puffin Fellow at Type Media Center, and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Hunter College. Smith is host of the podcast “Open Form” on LitHub Radio. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Harper’s, Artforum, Oxford American, New Republic, The Nation, and more. In 2014 and 2016, TheRoot.com named him one of the 100 Most Influential African-Americans in their annual The Root 100 list. He was also a 2017 NAACP Image Award Nominee. Smith lives in Brooklyn.
Jonathan Kirsch is attorney, author of thirteen books, and a contributor of book reviews to the Washington Post. Kirsch earned his BA from UC Santa Cruz and his JD from Loyola University School of Law. He served as a book review columnist for Los Angeles Times for three decades and is a former Adjunct Professor on the Faculty of NYU’s Professional Publishing Institute. As a freelance journalist, he has contributed to Newsweek, The New Republic, Los Angeles magazine, and Publishers Weekly, among other publications. Kirsch does regular legal reviews of memoir manuscripts and is the legal counsel for the Independent Book Publishers Association. You can read more about him at www.jonathan-kirsch.com.
Linda Joy Myers is the president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of two award-winning memoirs Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains. Her three books, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Becoming Whole, and Journey of Memoir, guide writers through the stages of creating a powerful, truthful, and universal story. Together with Brooke Warner, she teaches memoir intensives here and at WriteYourMemoirinSixMonths.com.
Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Write On, Sisters!, Green-Light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, and three books on memoir, including How to Sell Your Memoir, and two books co-authored with Linda Joy Myers: Breaking Ground on Your Memoir and The Magic of Memoir. She is committed to helping writers become creative entrepreneurs and thought leaders, a message conveyed in her TEDx talk, “Green-Light Revolution.” Together with Linda Joy Myers, she teaches memoir intensives here and at WriteYourMemoirinSixMonths.com.