UPDATE: The Grotto Summer Memoir Workshop is now full. If you would like to be placed on the wait list, please email me at rachel dot howard at gmail dot com. Students do sometimes need to drop near the start date, and spaces do sometimes become available.

I’ve just opened registration for the six-week summer memoir workshop I’ll be teaching at the San Francisco Writers Grotto in July and August. I’m looking forward to working with a great mix of returning students and new ones. The readings and discussions will be all-new, and every student will receive personal weekly writing assignments and feedback, as well as a chance to have a longer section workshopped. Contact me at rachel dot howard at gmail dot com if you’re interested in saving a spot.

Summer Memoir Workshop

Instructor: Rachel Howard
Contact: rachel dot howard at gmail dot com
Number of sessions: 6
Meeting Times: Monday evenings, 6:30 pm to 9 pm; July 26 – August 30
Course fee: $375


You want to tell your story and you want to tell the truth. But how does truth differ from mere fact in memoir? And how do we find and give form to the deeper truths that compel readers to compulsively turn pages?

Memoir poses a contract with the reader—“this really happened.” But whether your story is outrageous or ordinary, a memoirist must dig beneath the facts to unearth a deeper emotional honesty.

In this combination seminar and workshop, we’ll embrace Vivian Gornick’s edict: “What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.” Through weekly readings and writing assignments, we’ll explore how memoirists use fictional techniques to transport the reader beyond surface factuality, and how you can develop an on-the-page perspective to give your story movement and meaning. Each writer will submit a memoir chapter for constructive workshop response.

We’ll also reserve plenty of time to hash out ethical quandaries, from the fallibility of memory to the eternal question: “What will my family think if they read this?” We’ll talk about how to sustain your writing practice over the course of creating a full book. And you’ll get the scoop on paths to publication.

This class is for writers 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.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.