Jump Start Your Memoir

Alysia Abbott's picture
Alysia Abbott
Week 5: July 8 to July 13
ORIENTATION: July 8, 6:00-7:30 PM
WORKSHOP: July 9-13, 9am-Noon
Discipline: Nonfiction/Memoir
Open to All

Workshop Description 

This workshop is part of Creative Nonfiction Week.

Starting your memoir can be daunting. Determining its scope, voice, and perhaps most challenging of all, figuring out where to begin, are no easy tasks. But guidance in a group setting of peers facing similar questions can help. We will wrestle with these big craft questions along with others peculiar to the memoir genre including, truth vs memory and turning yourself into a character. Also: just because our stories are true doesn’t mean they always “feel” true. We will explore what New Yorker critic James Woods calls “thisness,” which he defines as “any detail that draws abstraction towards itself and seems to kill that abstraction with a puff of palpability.” This workshop will be both generative and workshop-focused. Come with a sense of the story you wish to tell and a willingness to dig deep into questions of why we write the stories we write.

Please bring to class copies of 5-10 pages of your memoir project. (Number of copies announced two weeks prior to workshop start date.)


Alysia Abbott is the author of Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, which has been translated into French, Spanish, Polish, and Potruguese. Her work can be found in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, OUT, TriQuarterly, Vogue and elsewhere. Fairyland was a New York Times Editor’s Pick and was awarded the ALA Stonewall Award, the Prix Heroine de Madame Figaro, and was a finalist for the Good Reads Choice Award. She instructs the Memoir Incubator Program at GrubStreet in Boston.