Two ways to study writing with me this fall. Registration for my creative nonfiction course through Stanford Continuing Studies’ Online Writer’s Studio opens August 17. Click here for details. And here is the course description:

“Writing the Creative Nonfiction Book: Getting a Full Draft

(EGL 321 W)

So you’ve written the opening pages of a memoir. Or you’ve been mulling over ideas for a book of creative nonfiction and a concept has clicked into focus. Congratulations. You’re over the biggest hurdle—getting started—and now you’re on to the most fulfilling but trickiest part. Working toward a full draft of your nonfiction book can be incredibly rewarding. But maintaining momentum requires keeping your eye on the book’s “big picture” and giving yourself freedom to experiment with the “small picture”—then staying flexible as your discoveries inform an evolving plan.

In this course, we will keep you writing toward a full draft. We will also look at how three very different creative nonfiction books work on the big-picture and small-picture levels. Weekly writing assignments will help you discover and strengthen the style, tone, and structure of your creative nonfiction book. Each student will complete a new chapter for workshop response. Whether you’re just starting or you’re feeling muddled in the middle, this course will give you the tools to finish a solid full draft.

Rachel Howard, Author

Rachel Howard is the author of the memoir, The Lost Night: A Daughter’s Search for the Truth of Her Father’s Murder, one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of 2005. Her personal essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her advice is quoted extensively in The Autobiographer’s Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir. She received an MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College.”

Meanwhile, my memoir intensive at the Writers Grotto has been such a delight (thanks to a delightful group of students) that I’ll be offering the four-week class again come October. Registration, limited to ten students, is open now. Click here to visit the class listing on the Grotto website. Or read the details below:

“Memoir Intensive: Fact Is Not Truth – Memoir and the Art of Honesty
Instructor: Rachel Howard
Contact: rachel dot howard at gmail dot com
Number of sessions: 3, with optional 4th session for personal critique
Meeting times: Monday evenings, 6:30 – 9:30, October 26-November 9. Optional
critique session 6:30 – 9:30, Monday, November 16.
Course fee:$195. Optional critique session $75

Description: You want to tell your story and you want to tell the truth. But what does ‘truth’ in a memoir really mean? And how do we find and communicate the deeper truths that compel readers to compulsively turn pages?

Memoir poses a contract with the reader—“this really happened.” Whether your story is outrageous or ordinary, compelling memoir need not depart from facts. But it must dig beneath them to unearth a deeper emotional honesty.

In this class, we’ll use Vivian Gornick’s craft book The Situation and the Story to help examine the personal story you’re trying to tell, and how you can best tell it. We’ll look at excerpts from memoirs by such writers as Jo Ann Beard, Alexandra Fuller, and others, and do lots of in-class and between-class writing of our own which we will share and discuss. We’ll explore how memoirists use fictional techniques to transport the reader beyond surface factuality, and we’ll find the truth that can drive your personal story.

Plenty of time reserved for practical Q and A. Ethical quandaries—“What will my family think if they read this?”—welcome.

An optional fourth session will be reserved for critique of excerpts from students’ memoirs-in-progress. Each participant in this session (limited to six students) will receive a written personal critique from the instructor.

This class is for students already at work on a memoir, as well as those just starting out.

Instructor Bio: Rachel Howard is the author of the memoir The Lost Night: A Daughter’s Search for the Truth of Her Father’s Murder, one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of 2005. Her personal essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and O, the Oprah Magazine. Her advice is quoted extensively in The Autobiographer’s Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir. She received her MFA from Warren Wilson College.”

1 Comment

  • Linda Shuffler Posted October 4, 2009 4:49 pm

    I would love to communicate with you. Your dad was my first cousin. We spend many fun hours together as kids. Your grandmother Mae was my mother’s sister,
    Aunt Nell.
    May God bless you.
    Please send me and e-mail.

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