Writing Lives Writing Lives Writing Lives

Writing Lives

Life writing is perhaps the most exciting and broadest literary genre of our times – spend a week discovering how you can work within the form to tell your story of a life.

Level

i
Improving

What do these levels mean?

Location

i
London

Length

i
1-5 days
  • Start Date
  • Time
  • Monday–Friday, 10.00–16.00

12
Spaces left

£550

12 in stock

Quantity:

How do we write about a life?

From bestsellers by doctors and lawyers to Norwegian experiments in autofiction, the genre of life writing is bigger and broader than ever. This course will look at the many and diverse ways you can write about your life or other people's. For example, how truthful can/should you be in presenting yourself in your writing? Should you treat yourself or others as a fictional construct? To what extent can you yourself enter into the telling of another person's life?

These questions are formal as well as ethical and wide open to interpretation. Drawing on a comprehensive reading list, and putting these ideas into practice in a series of writing exercises, we will spend the week discussing and deciding on the most suitable way for you to write into this newly re-energised and vibrant form of literature.

Is this the right course for me?

Whether you're looking to write about your own life or someone else's, this course will explore the many possibilities the genre has to offer. You don't need to have taken any courses before but the course is also not designed for complete beginners and is best suited to students who have experimented with some form of writing before.

    This course runs for five days, from 10.00–16.00. Each day will be divided into two sessions: in the morning, the day’s theme will be introduced and then discussed as a group, followed by a writing exercise. There will be an hour’s lunch break at 13.00, followed by a second, related writing exercise and a final group discussion to end.

Course Programme

Session 1

Monday 8 August, 10.00–16.00

Non-fiction: Writing about the sel...

Session 2

9 August, 10.00–16.00

Non-fiction: Writing about others...

Session 3

10 August, 10.00–16.00

Guest Tutor ...

See remaining sessions

Course Programme

Writing Lives

Session 1

Monday 8 August, 10.00–16.00

Non-fiction: Writing about the self

This session looks at how a person can write about their own life as a ‘confessional’ memoir or autobiography, diary or journal, including a member of their family, or expanding the book to include cultural history/myth/fables/dreams.

Key texts include The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster, Notes to Self by Emilie Pine, Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog, The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming and The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić.

Session 2

9 August, 10.00–16.00

Non-fiction: Writing about others

In this session, we’ll look at how a person can write about another person’s life or many other peoples’ lives as biography or monograph, perhaps including their own persona in the writing, or by expanding the book as a piece of narrativised social history about science, sport, nature or culture.

Key texts include Dickinson by Rebecca Swift, Proust by Edmund White, The Lives of Elsa Triolet by Lachlan Mackinnon, The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère, Written Lives by Javier Marias and The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd.

Session 3

10 August, 10.00–16.00

Guest Tutor

Session 4

11 August, 10.00–16.00

Editor(s) as ‘life curators’

We’ll look at how to ‘curate’ a life as a series of interviews between one artist and one interviewer, or more than one interviewer, as oral autobiography, as oral history, or as a festschrift/anthology/compendium, in which many people write about one person’s life/work.

Key texts include Conversations with Iannis Xenakis by Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Paul Bowles (ed. Gena Dagel Caponi), David Bowie: A Life (ed. Dylan Jones), Terrence Malick: Rehearsing the Unexpected (eds. Carlo Hintermann & Daniele Villa), Raymond Roussell: Life, Death & Works (eds. Alastair Brotchie, Malcolm Green & Anthony Melville) and A Working Model of the Fall from Grace: Essays & Poems for David Harsent (eds. Patrick Davidson Roberts & Martha Sprackland).

Session 5

12 August, 10.00–16.00

Autofiction and fictional biography

In this final session, we’ll discuss how a person can write fictionally about their own life, as a roman à clef, or fictionally about another real person’s life or many peoples’ lives based closely, or loosely, on the facts of that life/lives, perhaps as literary-biographical essays about both real people & the self.

Key texts include Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi, Threshold by Rob Doyle, I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, Clara by Janice Galloway, But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer and Vertigo by WG Sebald.

Tutors

richard-skinner-tutor

Richard Skinner

Richard Skinner is a novelist, poet and critic. His most recent book, The Mirror, was described as ‘beautifully written...

More About This Tutor
Richard Skinner

Location

Bloomsbury House

74 - 77 Great Russell Street

London WC1B 3DA

Covid

While we hope this course will take place in our London offices as normal, we’re always monitoring the situation with COVID-19, both nationally and locally, very carefully. We have extensive Covid safety measures in place in Bloomsbury House and are continuously re-evaluating these according to and beyond current Government guidelines.

Should any change in situation regarding the virus require us to move a portion of your classes online, we now have both the expertise and the technology to do so without disrupting your experience with us. If we do need to pursue this option, using video-conferencing software and our bespoke virtual classroom, we will also offer a discount for the affected sessions.

Find out more about our Covid safety measures and refund policy here.

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.

My Road to Publication

Academy alumna Sarah Clarke on getting her book deal, and the hope that kept her going

Read More
My Road to Publication
Am I Marmite?

Academy alumna and debut novelist Liz Webb on the perils of writing a character based on yourself

Read More
Am I Marmite?
Ten Questions for Your Character

If you're planning to do some character development this weekend, get started with these ten writing prompts

Read More
Ten Questions for Your Character

For more information, message us or call 0207 927 3827