True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction
with Patti Miller
and guests Mandy Sayer, Caroline Jones and Robin Hemley
1st February - 26 July 2013
Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
(Please note access is via stairs)
Course fee: $5950 (inc. GST)
True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction is a six-month intensive course for writers who want to concentrate on creating 'true stories'. This is the only six-month intensive course devoted to memoir and non-fiction offered in Australia, presenting a unique opportunity for the development of a complete draft under expert guidance. Based on readings, discussion and exercises, this practical course will develop skills and explore the richness of the genre, the joys and challenges, and the possibilities for 'life writing'.
The course will investigate the myriad arts and skills of memoir and narrative non-fiction, including:
• how to access poetic memory
• how to create the lived texture of experience on the page
• how to find a narrating position
• where to find a voice
• how to find the structure of your story
• how to avoid self-indulgence
• how to integrate research
• how far to go in the borderlands between memoir and fiction.
Beginning in February 2013, students will attend weekly classes on Friday mornings for 24 weeks, divided into three eight-week week terms. The three-hour sessions are in the morning to capitalise on creative alertness and focus. Students receive two individual consultations with course director Patti Miller, providing an invaluable opportunity to discuss writing issues in-depth. These will be available over the period of the course so that students can book their consultation when it will be of most use.
The course includes two Saturday intensives with writing industry professionals - publisher, editor, publicist and agent - as well as sessions from experienced writers such as Mandy Sayer (Dreamtime Alice and Velocity) and Caroline Jones (An Authentic Life and Through a Glass Darkly) discussing their own work, practices and processes, giving students the benefit of their knowledge and insights. There will also be guest sessions with published former writing students.
True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction is a practical and inspiring course for writers who are ready to commit to the process of producing a full-length work of memoir or narrative non-fiction. In addition to the writing classes and exercises, students will be expected to dedicate as much time as possible to writing during the week in order that they will be well on the way to a first draft by the end of the course.
The course is open to writers of all levels including those starting out and those wishing to change genres. However, a high level of competence with written English expression is expected and assumed.
There are 15 places available on this course. Book soon to avoid disappointment.
About the Course Director
Patti Miller is the author of Australia's best-selling life writing texts, Writing Your Life and The Memoir Book, as well as two memoirs: The Last One Who Remembers, Whatever the Gods Do and one novel Child and her latest, a narrative nonfiction, The Mind of a Thief. She has had numerous articles and personal essays published in magazines, literary journals and newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian and The Guardian. She has been teaching life writing for over twenty years at universities and writers' centres around Australia, as well as courses in Fiji and Bali, and she takes a memoir-writing group to Paris every year. She also works on manuscript development and more than twenty writers she has tutored have successfully been published.
About the Guest Lecturers
Mandy Sayer won the Australian/Vogel's Literary Award with her first novel, Mood Indigo. Since then she has been named one of Australia's Best Young Novelists by the Sydney Morning Herald and has published ten books, including Dreamtime Alice, which was translated into several languages and won several awards. Sayer's second memoir, Velocity, won the South Australian Premier's Award for Non-Fiction and The Age Book of the Year Award (Non-Fiction). Sayer reviews books regularly for major publications and her work is anthologised in many collections and journals both here and overseas. She lives in Sydney.
Mandy Sayer photographed by Roslyn Sharp
Caroline Jones AO is a writer and broadcaster who has worked at the ABC for more than 40 years. She presented The Search For Meaning programs on ABC Radio National for eight years, the transcripts of which were released as four books. Caroline's fifth book An Authentic Life – Finding Meaning And Spirituality In Everyday Life was a top 10 best-seller and Through A Glass Darkly, A Journey Of Love and Grief With My Father was selected for the Books Alive campaign. All Caroline's books have been used as resources in secondary and tertiary education. She is the recipient of a number of awards for her work in broadcasting, reporting, producing and writing.
Caroline Jones photographed by Peter Solness
Robin Hemley is the author of eight books and the winner of many awards. His third collection of short stories, Reply All, and A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, journalism and travel are both forthcoming in 2012. He is a senior editor of The Iowa Review and editor of a popular online journal, Defunct. He currently directs the non-fiction writing program at the University of Iowa and is the founder and organiser of the biennial conference NonfictionNow.
Please note in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses - including tutors and venues - may be subject to cancellation or change.
• 24 x three-hour Friday morning sessions — 10am to 1pm
• 2 x half-hour individual sessions per student individual dates TBC
• 2 x four-hour Saturday sessions — 15 June and 13 July 2013 — 1.30pm to 5.30pm
• Term 1: 1st Feb – 22nd March
• Term 2: 5th April – 23rd May
• Term 3: 7th June – 26th July
• There is a one-week semester break at Easter – no class Good Friday 29 March
• There is a one-week semester break end of May – no class Friday 31 May
• Varuna, A Writer's House in Katoomba will be the venue for the Saturday class in July
The content listed below is comprehensive but is still a guide only. The exact course content will be adjusted according to the experience and concerns of the group, and availability of guest writers. The detail of the course is at the discretion of the course director and Faber Academy at Allen & Unwin.
Session 1: Friday 1st Feb
Mapping the Territory
Overview of the course
Leaping the hurdles before you start
Where have you been? Where do you think you are going? Why?
What is memoir? What is narrative non-fiction?
Session 2: Friday 8th Feb
Desire and Curiosity
Beginnings—desire and curiosity
What subjects are okay?
Session 3: Friday 15th Feb
Memory and Other Sources
How to access
How to follow
Introduction to research and interviews
Session 4: Friday 22nd Feb
Going to the Well—Observation
Knowing what you noticed
Session 5: Friday 1st March
Creating a Scene
The 3D world of writing
Dialogue, action and scene
Session 6: Friday 8th March
Point of view
Session 7: Friday 15th March
Who is telling this story?
Time and position of telling
Session 8: Friday 22nd March
How Do they Do it?
In-depth discussion of chosen memoir and/or narrative non-fiction text
Good Friday 29th March : BREAK
Session 9: Friday 5th April
Back to the Well—Writing the Senses
Creating the texture of lived experience
Using the senses
Session 10: Friday 12th April
Creating Depth and Breadth
Research and interviews
Wearing knowledge gracefully
Session 11: Friday 19th April
Structure (at Last!)
What's it for?
Organic structures / Ways of structuring
Session 12: Friday 26th April
What is narrative?
Desire and curiosity
How to create narrative pull
Session 13: Friday 3rd May
Opening out the territory
Session 14: Friday 10th May
Truth-Telling/Writing The Dark
The difficulties of truth-telling
Writing what others don't want you to write
'No memoirist is an island'
Session 15: Friday 17th May
How Do they Do it?
Putting the pieces together
Session 16: Friday 24th May
A Return to Structure
More putting the pieces together
Time to see how it works
Friday 31st MAY: BREAK
Session 17: Friday 7th June
More Structure—A Way of Working
Feeling the way with structure (More piecing together if needed)
In-depth discussion of selected memoir and/or narrative non-fiction text
Session 18: Friday 14th June
Travel and sojourn memoir
How to not be boring about your trip/place
Session 19: Saturday 15th June
Guest Writers, from writing class to publication
Session 20: Friday 21st June
True Stories—or Lies?
The wild borderlands of fiction
What is true?
How far do you go?
Session 21: Friday 28th June
The personal essay
Finding ideas, finding shape
Session 22: Friday 5th July
The Big 'I'
What is self-indulgence in memoir?
Self-indulgence in content, style and voice
How to avoid it
Session 23: Friday 12th July
More on Structure
Troubleshooting—what can go wrong...
...And how to fix it
Session 24: Saturday 13th July
Venue: Varuna, A Writer's House, Katoomba
The writing community/Writing programs
Guest Writing Mentor, Publisher
Session 25: Friday 19th July
How Do They Do it?
Publishing - Guests Agents, Publicists
Developing a ruthless eye
Using a machete (metaphorically of course!)
Session 26: Friday 26th July
Continuing On - and Celebration
Finishing a draft
How to Make a Booking
To apply for a place in the True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction course, applicants are asked to submit a one-page outline of the project they anticipate working on during the course (it doesn't matter if you change your mind between applying and beginning the course), as well as a paragraph outlining their writing experience, together with the application form. This application material will not be used to exclude anyone, but to tailor the course to requirements.
Please send your application by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Faber Academy at Allen & Unwin, PO Box 8500, St Leonards NSW 1590
Applicants will be asked to pay a non-refundable deposit of $2,000 upon application. The balance of the course fee, a further $3,950, will be payable in four further installments of $987.50 on 1 March, 1 April, 1 May, and 1 June 2013 respectively. No refunds will be given to students who miss sessions or drop out of the course.
For further information contact email@example.com or phone (02) 8425 0171
Please note that, in the event of unforeseen circumstances, venues may be changed or courses may be subject to cancellation.