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If I teach nothing in my writing classes, I teach this: do not outline your memoir (or novel or novella or short story or essay). Do not think out the plot, the narrative arc, the protagonist’s journey, even if it is your journey. Instead, try to find your remembered story through an honest excavation of the fragments that have never left you. This is highly subjective material, but it’s where your individual and experiential truths lie. Do this, and I promise the heft and shape (and themes) of your tale will begin to reveal themselves, without any rigid control from the godly, intelligent, well-read, and ambitious author.
But how, precisely, does one go about this “excavation”? And how, technically speaking, can we ignite a memoir into writing itself? Join me in this workshop, and I will seek to demystify those writerly tools and skills that time and time again, if they are sharp enough, and if the writer can summon enough daily faith and nerve, can penetrate the mystery of story itself, your story in this case. Lastly, this workshop will be both generative, where you will be asked to write new material, as well as a standard manuscript workshop, open to those who would like a group critique of an excerpt of their memoir-in-progress or a completed memoir. However, you are not required to have started writing a memoir to be in this course.
Instructor: Andre Dubus III
Andre Dubus III is the author of The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, Bluesman, and the New York Times bestsellers, House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and his memoir, Townie, a #4 New York Times bestseller and a New York Times "Editors Choice". His work has been included in The Best American Essays and The Best Spiritual Writing anthologies, and his novel, House of Sand and Fog was a finalist for the National Book Award, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, and was made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly. His 2013 novella collection, Dirty Love, was listed as a “Notable Book” by The Washington Post and The New York Times, and was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice” and a Kirkus “Starred Best Book of 2013”. His new novel, Gone So Long, published in October 2018, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal and has been named on many “Best Books” lists, including selection for The Boston Globe’s “Twenty Best Books of 2018” and “The Best Books of 2018”, “Top 100”, Amazon. Mr. Dubus has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for Fiction, Two Pushcart Prizes, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.