Why did I create “Writing the Self as a Character in Nonfiction”?

Writing the self as a character spring 2020

The story of Writing the Self as a Character in Nonfiction

People ask: How do you come up with all these ideas for classes?

Me: My own life.

Why did I create “Writing the Self as a Character in Nonfiction”?

I’ve always been a lover of visual art, but discovering Frida Kahlo’s work as a young adult really shifted my view of self-reflection. 

I read everything I could about her, sifted through books of her art, attended exhibits of her work when I could afford it. I’ve had prints of her work in every dorm room and apartment I’ve lived in. 

Who was this woman who didn’t flinch from her humanity, her identity, or her pain— emotional and physical? 

How could she spend so much of her life bedridden and suffering, and still create such beautiful work that would survive her years later? 

I was a budding writer, though then I was writing fiction and terrible poems. I was still running away from what was really pulling at me: memoir and personal essay. 

Frida watered a seed in me that had been planted when I was just a child, telling myself stories up in the plum tree in my back yard—the seed of self-reflection, sitting with myself and brooding about life. For years, I was an avid journaler and letter writer. In boarding school I sent my friends packets of letters weekly, chronicling my new life in the suburbs of Massachusetts. I journaled throughout my college years, through relationships and heartbreaks.

Frida helped me see that if I really wanted to do work that touched people, made a difference, and would survive me, I had to reflect unflinchingly on myself, my missteps, my heart. I’ve been doing that for so many years, but even more deeply since my beloved brother died in 2013.

I’ve witnessed firsthand what this work of introspection has done to my work & my life. That’s why I created this class: to share with you what I’ve learned, so you can take it forth into your stories. 

Creating the self as a character is a significant element of autobiographical writing. In fiction, characterization is a given, but what about memoir? How do we glean through all that material of the self and decide which details can be left out in one piece of writing, but are absolutely critical to the next?

In this intensive we will discuss these questions and engage in deeply reflective activities to help you develop yourself as a character on the page.

The Writing the Self in CNF class is self-paced. This means once you register, you are given access to the class on wet.ink, and have a month to complete the lessons, readings, writing exercises, etc. I am available to answer questions as needed. More information on the class can be found here

Cost of class: $60

Interested? Send me an email to writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com.

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