“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.”
—–Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story
So how does a writer employ language and story structure to parlay personal experience into a compelling narrative? This question will lend a central theme to the classes taught by five memoirists as well as Cheryl Strayed‘s keynote talk this coming March at the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat. With an eye to language and story, the retreat instructors–Suzanne Finnamore, Ariel Gore, E. J. Levy, Theo Pauline Nestor and Candace Walsh—will lead writers through discussions and exercises that take us deeper into the work, deeper into the language, and into what Gornick refers to as a story’s “emotional preoccupation.”
The personal essays of the five instructors have been published in places such as the Pushcart Prize anthology, the New York Times, Psychology Today, O magazine, the Paris Review, the Gettysburg Review, New York magazine and Best American Essays. Their memoirs have been singled out for prizes, awards and accolades such as the Washington Post‘s Book of the Year, the Library Journal‘s Book of the Year, the Lamda Literary Award, and the Kirkus Review Book Club Picks.
Come join us this spring at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort for this extraordinary chance to focus on memoir’s craft.
“The subject of autobiography is always self-definition,” Gornick says, “but it cannot be self-definition in the void. The memoirist, like the poet and the novelist, must engage with the world, because engagement makes experience, experience makes wisdom, and finally it’s the wisdom–or rather the movement toward it–that counts.”