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Memoir Writing Workshop, Sydney, April 29

Oh my. Heading to Cape Breton! Not only were Barrie and I lucky enough to visit God’s Country last fall for Celtic Colours, we are returning this spring both for business and pleasure. Just. Can’t. Wait. While we are there, I decided to tack on an extra day and deliver a workshop on  writing memoirs on Saturday the 29th of April.

The workshop will run from 9:30-4:30 at the Travelodge on Kings Road. Fee is $125 and includes HST, and a whack of handouts.

The day’s outline is below. If you want to register or have any questions,  please send me an email at sandracphinney@gmail.com or call me at 902 648-0462

PS: The photo above is of yours truly, age 6, in a convent in Quebec city. Now there’s a story.

Making Memories Work for You

This memoir workshop appeals to a variety of ages, writing abilities and interests. For example: seniors who wish to write vignettes for their children and grandchildren; people who are journaling; freelance writers who are interested in writing stories or essays for pay; scrapbookers who would like to write short stories to accompany their photos; and anyone who wants to write a book focused on their memoirs. Subjects covered during the day:

  • What is memoir?
  • Handouts/readings of a variety of examples + discussion
  • Elements of good story telling + tips on writing powerful non-fiction
  • Writing exercises.  I will teach a technique called “clustering” which can be very valuable to mine ideas and figure out what to write about.
  • Memoir as postcard stories … samples and where to submit. This short-short form is ideal for scrapbookers or for anyone who wants to write a collection of short vignettes for keepsakes. (Great, also for journaling ideas and for entering competitions such as Geist and The Writer’s Union of Canada’s annual postcard competitions.)
  • Memoir as first person essays … samples and where/how to submit. There are a number of places that accept personal essays. Some are decent paying markets ($.50 to  $1.50 word); some pay less. Other pay pittance or don’t pay. I will send all participants my data base of essay markets after the workshop. There are literary markets, mainstream markets (magazines, newspapers and ezines) as well as anthologies like Chicken Soup books.
  • Memoir as long form (book). Where to begin? Ideas for creating a game plan. Note: Because we would need a week to work on a book, we will discuss some ways to approach a long project and I will provide a bibliography (reference books and web sites) that can help in crafting a book but we will not be discussing book proposals or self publishing per se. This workshop is not about getting books published! Rather, it’s about different kinds of memoirs, different approaches, and looking at the different ways there are of approaching the process of writing a book. i.e., the workshop will help you find a way (and a place) to start.
  • How to enrich memoirs and give them depth. This needs research! How to find sources to inform your work, when to seek such sources, where to find them, and why bother in the first place? Samples and research sources.
  • Ethics in writing memoir. To embellish or not to embellish? Should you create composite characters or not? This makes for a great discussion (and I have some excellent reference materials on the topic). Warning: Sandra is fanatic about truth telling in memoir and will try to pull you in to the writing camp that uses “Do not add; do not deceive” as a mantra. She also likes a good debate. This can be a hot topic in some circles.

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