Online Memoir Writing Course
Wednesday 9th September 2020, 17:30Communication Collective logo

On Wednesday 9th September, we were delighted to once again welcome Emma Darwall Smith from Communication Collective as she led us through our second Online Memoir Writing workshop, exploring narrative around ‘Point of View’.

Attendee and committed Genesis supporter, Janet Baird has shared her write up of the event.

“At 5:30 pm, Emma welcomed us and asked us to share what we were writing or what we were trying to write. Two of us had attended the taster session in June. This workshop was about point of view, examining using adult perspective or writing through the eyes of a child.

Emma then showed us three examples of memoir writing and we took turns to read these out before we discussed the point of view used by the writer as well as the use of the senses.

The first excerpt was from the semi-fictional ‘Reading in the Dark’ by evocative Irish writer Seamus Deane. Each chapter is short and chronological. We examined ‘Feet’. It’s so sensual and I was very moved by it as it’s all through the eyes of a child under a table as he watches the shoes of the adults during a family crisis.

Doris Lessing’s memoir ‘Under my Skin’ was next. Doris was born in Iran before her family moved to Southern-Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). We read a part where Doris is only two but remembers the rough physicality of riding with her father on his horse.

Finally, we read out part of a Norwegian autobiography ‘My Struggle’ where the writer Karl Ove Knausgaard recalls an awkward social time when he was 16. Emma showed us how dialogue is vital for making memoir come alive. We also looked at how the writer builds tension and keeps the reader reading!

Before a short break, Emma shared her top tips for writing memoir. We then returned to do two writing exercises. We had 8 minutes for each.

In the first exercise, we described an incident from our own childhood, writing in the first person and the present tense. In the second, we were once again reflecting on a time in our lives. This time writing in the past tense.

Finally, Emma asked us each to read out one of our excerpts and we were able to discuss them as a group.

The session ended at 7.40 pm which was late, but the time flew! ”


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