Two courses

With some trepidation and lots of excitement I’m going to be offering a couple of writing courses this fall:

1)      The Memoir Question(s) and
2)      Writing Moves

Here are some details about dates and fees.

The Memoir Question(s) grows out of my ongoing obsession with writing about real life. It’s often fraught, as Stacy May Fowles trenchantly describes in this essay.

This week, I was revising a story about care-giving that I wrote some years ago. Even reading it over made my whole body hurt. The secret to a long life is a short memory. It feels dangerous to re-enter this territory. Why continue? The answer is always different.

For me — at least these days — it’s satisfying to know that my own difficult experiences might end up being USEFUL to someone else. And I am a great believer in useful reading material. Recently, I read a couple of books by Jeanne Safer. They’re popular psychology books, which emanate from her own formative life experiences and gain intellectual and emotional heft as she brings in psychological theory and weaves in the stories of her clients. I breathed differently, held my body differently after reading those books. It was that way with Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich, with The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown. Among others.

Finding what is essential in a story means navigating a seemingly chaotic welter of life experiences. And providing a pathway for others to do the same. I think good memoir writing take time. Way too much time. And requires a particular kind of giving over to the thoughts and opinions of others. It can be tough stepping outside the framework-slash-prison of our preconceptions, but it has to be done. This gets used to justify a lot of bullying on the part of editors as well as a lot of self-bullying on the part of writers. But does a bullying approach really help, in the end, to create a useful narrative?

To me, it seems essential for people writing memoir to create a trusted, trusting community of pre-publication readers. This is what I’d like to establish in the course.

Writing Moves is thankfully a little less complicated. Each session will include a Feldenkrais lesson, an hour or more or protected writing time, and an optional discussion. The Feldenkrais method is all about setting aside familiar habits, and about focusing on the process rather than the goal. How can that NOT be a great way of transitioning to any creative activity, writing included? It’s an ongoing exploration for me and I hope some people will join me on the journey.

If you’re interested and the times don’t work for you please get in touch with me anyway at bodylanguage at sympatico dot ca

Speaking of blessed community, while I spent weeks brooding, my friends Diana Kiesners and Terri Favro were good enough to mention these courses on their blogs. Thank you!

By the way, if you would like a thrilling read pick up a copy of Terri’s book The Proxy Bride, which boasts – among other features – a classic, evil villain.

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