Today I had the privilege of taking a memoir-writing workshop taught by Beth Kephart, author of Handling the Truth (among other books).
wrote and listened and talked and laughed. The scenes we explored
covered the spectrum from funny to sad, from joyous celebrations to
unimaginable losses. Beth's own work is precisely rendered, every word
chosen deliberately; her standards are high. Yet as a teacher she is
generous and supportive, encouraging, seeking only to make room for each
student to find his or her own voice.
It was a good day for the
quiet, the listening, the attention to detail, that a writing workshop
requires. Memoir is not just a turning inward, Beth says; it is also
about paying attention to others, to the world around us. It's about
using our own experiences to pursue larger themes. It's not about
telling the reader what we've discovered, but letting the reader
discover it with us. These are points about which I want to think more
deeply; they can even apply to fiction.
Beth is also working to develop a "traveling workshop" on memoir; see here if interested.