Writing Our Lives Workshop: The Fall 2013 Edition

Do you have a story you want to write but you need help?

Because everyone ‘has’ a memoir, we all have a stake in how such stories are told. For we do not, after all, simply have experience; we are entrusted with it. We must do something—make something—with it. A story, we sense, is the only possible habitation for the burden of our witnessing.” (Patricia Hampl, I Could Tell You Stories)

Are you ready to take on the burden of witnessing? Do you need help getting the truth out? The truth with all its vulnerable detail? Vanessa Martir’s Writing Our Lives is here to help.

In this seven week workshop, students will learn the ins and outs of writing the personal narrative, from digging into memory to character development to sensory writing and much, much more. We’ll also be discussing the writing process and coming up with ways (individually and as a group) to make your process more productive and stimulating.

This isn’t your regular, run-of-the-mill workshop. We will be reading a lot and writing even more! You will be writing a seven to ten page narrative that we will critique as a group in Week 7, over food and drinks and joy. (And, for those returning students, or repeat offenders as I’ve dubbed you, this workshop is completely reinvented so no repeats!)

There is even an opportunity to contribute to an anthology in the works!

So, let’s go! Do it. Give yourself the gift this year of writing your story. Just for you, if that’s your goal, or for your kids, or for the world to see, if you’re ready to take that bold step. Trust yourself to do it. It’s time.

If you’re interested in checking out Vanessa’s teaching style before the workshop, she’s holding a free one-day workshop at Hunter College on Sunday, September 15th @ Hunter College’s 68th Street Campus. For more info, send an email to: vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with Free Writing Our Lives Workshop in the Subject Line.

Seven Week Workshop Details:

When: September 22nd & 29th, October 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, November 3rd

Time: 12-4pm

Where: Hunter College, 68th St. Campus

How much: $333 (+ a $21 copy fee) for 28 hours of instruction plus 2 one-on-one meetings with the facilitator

Scholarship info: Need based partial scholarships available on a first come, first serve basis. To apply, send a letter explaining your financial need for the scholarship–i.e. unemployed, underemployed, etc. Also explain why you think you need this workshop, what you expect to gain from it, and why you think you are deserving of the scholarship beyond your financial need. Send the letter to: vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with “Writing Our Lives Workshop Scholarship” in the subject line.

Additional Details: The workshop is limited to 13 students. The culminating project is a 7-10 page personal narrative due on Wednesday, October 30th at 6pm. There will also be regular homework assignments which include reading and writing, as well as in-class writing and sharing.

For info on why I created the Writing Our Lives workshop, visit Vanessa’s blog: Why I created the writing our lives workshop

What people are saying:

“Ms. Martir teaches about writing the personal narrative in a way that resonates in the mind and the soul because she consistently speaks from a place of sincerity and personal experience. She walks you through the process week by week with applied exercises in addition to one-on-one meetings that insure you fully grasp the content while helping you to find and strengthen your own voice. This is a workshop that is a worthwhile investment for anyone that is committed to writing their story.”

“Writing our lives has impacted my life twice. It was so good for my writing the first time I had to take it a second time. It is truly an experience that has allowed me to look at my life with new eyes.”

“Vanessa Martir’s workshop was the flashlight in the dark room of my memories. It gave me my story, in the sense that I finally realized it was the one that needed to be told. Intense digging, deep readings, and a real and brutally honest facilitator…all of these may seem heavy and daunting, but trust me when I say that what would be more daunting is not opening yourself up to the possibilities that Ms. Martir guides you to. I’d tell anyone that’s committed to writing from a personal perspective to take this workshop.”

“This workshop is perfect for those trying to write the infamous ‘my life story.’ Not only do I recommend it, I plan on taking the workshop again, at a future date. Vanessa is one of the most clear-cut, to the heart of the matter instructors I have ever seen. Her method to the madness of writing this story not only prepared me for a project I have been putting off, but her guidance has allowed me to actually take on the project pen first, paper second and everything else will come as it should.”

“The Writing Our Lives workshop provided access to some of the most thought provoking articles and speeches I have ever experienced. Martir has a gift for selecting provocative and illuminating out of class assignments. Coupled with the focused and truly engaging one on one session with Martir, the truth in your writing will bubble to the surface.”

About the facilitator: A graduate of Columbia University, Vanessa Martir is a writer, speaker and seasoned workshop facilitator. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings. She chronicles her memoir-writing journey in her blog: vanessamartir.wordpress.com. Vanessa has studied the arts of memoir and fiction writing with such greats as Chris Abani, Elmaz Abinader, Staceyann Chin, Mat Johnson and David Mura. She has penned two novels, Woman’s Cry (Augustus Publishing, 2007) and The Write Play (currently being shopped), and most recently co-wrote Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists, an interactive workbook that gives young people all the tools they need to change the world. In 2010, Vanessa resigned from her full-time editing position to write and teach full-time. Vanessa has been teaching writing workshops for eight years and has taught students as young as six and as old as eighty six. She is a five time VONA fellow and performs regularly throughout the tri-state area. Vanessa is the recipient of the 2013 Jerome Foundation Fellowship and has been published widely.

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