Memoir and Life Writing Memoir and Life Writing Memoir and Life Writing

Memoir and Life Writing

How to write a life – let alone your own? Spend three months in expert company, asking and answering the questions that a memoirist needs to answer.

Level

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Improving

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Location

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Online

Length

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12 weeks
  • Start Date
  • Time
  • Thursdays, 19.00–21.00

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£850

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£250 / month for 2 months and a £350.00 deposit

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Throw yourself into writing your memoir

Memoir is more than just a retelling of the past. Learn how to mine your memories, find your focus and discover the story you want to tell in this supportive online course.

From conversations with a newly published Faber Academy life writing student, to the memoirist whose narrative structure enabled fresh ways to develop her story, this course will explore the many and diverse ways you can write a life – whether that is your own or another’s.

Each session of this stimulating, deep-dive course will include timed writing exercises and group discussions on the topic at hand, whether that’s self, memory, or story. There will also be set homework each week of 1000 words maximum. Three members of the group, in rotation, will share their work with the group so that we can discuss successes, difficulties and how to move our work forward. One of the most informative ways of improving our own writing is finding solutions for others.

Over the course of three months, Miranda will lead sessions on planning, research, structuring and editing memoir and life writing. We will use short exercises to workshop individual students’ writing, and which can act as building-blocks within your own work in progress. The course will also include a talk from a visiting speaker who will share her experience of selling on proposal and answer any questions on her experience of the publishing process.

Is this the right course for me?

This course is suitable for writers who are just starting out, and for those who wish to continue developing their work. You may have been considering your memoir for years, even decades – squirreling away fragments or working by yourself. Or perhaps you’ve always wondered about how to turn your ideas into a fully realised book-length work, but don’t know where to begin. Either way, you want to take your craft to the next level – and this course is the place to do it.

We'll use a comprehensive reading list in class to give a grounding for the discussion around memoir and writing. The suggested reading and Miranda's own A Book of Untruths are recommended to give us inspiration and a context for the ideas. A wider range of books will also be discussed as the course progresses to inform the projects students are writing.

Sample reading:
Colin Grant – I’m Black, So You Don’t Have To Be: A Memoir in 8 Lives (Shared Experience)
Miranda France – The Writing School (Truth or Fiction)
Anna Funder – Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life (Voice)
Laura Cummings – On Chapel Sands (Structuring Story)
Maxine Hong Kingston – The Woman Warrior (Storytelling)

Carmen Maria Machado – In the Dream House (Ethics)
Lemn Sissay – My Name is Why (Finding your Self)
Maggie Nelson – The Red Parts (Time & Place)
Svenja O'Donnell – Inge's War (Guest Speaker)

Please note: the subject matter of sessions as listed below is a guide only. The exact course content will be finalized according to the experience and interests of the group and guest speaker availability. The detail of the course content is at the discretion of the Course Directors and Faber Academy.

    The course will take place on Zoom on Thursday evenings, 7–9 p.m.

Course Programme

Session 1

Thursday 4 April, 19.00–21.00

Introductions...

Session 2

11 April, 19.00–21.00

Finding Your Self...

Session 3

18 April, 19.00–21.00

Those Who People Our Stories...

See remaining sessions

Course Programme

Session 1

Thursday 4 April, 19.00–21.00

Introductions

Together we’ll think what it is, individually, that we may want to write about.

Session 2

11 April, 19.00–21.00

Finding Your Self

We will look at how other writers, such as Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House, accentuate the split between the lived self and our writing selves, in order to develop a rich and textured voice.

Session 3

18 April, 19.00–21.00

Those Who People Our Stories

Are our subjects familial, living lives in consequential times? Are their experiences ones, like Natasha Trethewey’s Memorial Drive that speak to us all.

Session 4

25 April, 19.00–21.00

Creating Space for Our Readers

How we might enable our readers to come to the page with their own questions and perhaps answers.

Session 5

2 May, 19.00–21.00

What’s the Story?

In the context of both drama and fiction we’ll think how we are all being trained for particular story structures.

Session 6

9 May, 19.00–21.00

Memory as Fragile Resource

We all have different, unique relationships with memory. What impact may that have on truth?

Session 7

16 May, 19.00–21.00

Managing Emotion

The emotion that we want to engage with, as we often see with Alan Bennett, is that of our readers.

Session 8

23 May, 19.00–21.00

Ethics

The emotion that we want to engage with, as we often see with Alan Bennett, is that of our readers.

Session 9

30 May, 19.00–21.00

Truth or Fiction

Looking at both France’s The Writing School and Funder’s Wifedom we’ll examine how fiction may be used in this genre to enhance, or perhaps deepen its story.

Session 10

6 June, 19.00–21.00

Structuring Our Shared Experiences

Looking at narratives such as Colin Grant’s Memoir in 8 Lives, we’ll see how the stories of others can beneficially impact, both structurally and ethically, on our own.

Session 11

13 June, 19.00–21.00

Guest Speaker: Freya Bromley

We'll invite a special guest speaker in to the class, to provide an alternative perspective.

Session 12

20 June, 19.00–21.00

What Next?

We'll discuss how maintaining the writing support structures that you have developed as a group may be an enormous support as we write on into the future.

Tutors

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Miranda Doyle

Miranda Doyle's family come from the tiny island of Coney in Sligo Bay. She grew up in Edinburgh alongside three brothers and...

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Miranda Doyle

It was an honour to meet Miranda and especially the group of bright, insightful and interesting women. Each of them had incredible stories to tell and I loved reading their work and hearing their contrasting styles.

Memoir and Life Writing

It was really so helpful to have Miranda's constructive feedback, help and advice on alternatives and solutions, and it always felt like a positive experience.

Memoir and Life Writing

Thank you, Miranda, for being an inspirational teacher. You have made me want to write and get the job done. Loved the Svenja O’Donnell talk. And what a nice bunch of people in that room each week.

Memoir and Life Writing

It was an honour to meet Miranda and especially the group of bright, insightful and interesting women. Each of them had incredible stories to tell and I loved reading their work and hearing their contrasting styles.

Browse the Reading Room

From author interviews and writing tips to creative writing exercises and reading lists, we've got everything you need to get started – and to keep going.