Sunday, November 15, 2015

Memoir workshop

Today I had the privilege of taking a memoir-writing workshop taught by Beth Kephart, author of Handling the Truth (among other books).

We 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.


  1. This is incredibly kind of you, Jennifer. It was a special day with such very special people, you among them. I've just now gotten back home. It was beautiful to discover this here.