Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Privilege of Teaching Memoir

Photo by Patty Michels, taken during my Advanced Memoir Workshop.

Seems I am out and about this week, because I am thrilled to announce that my essay "The Privilege of Teaching Memoir" has just been published by the Washington Independent Review of Books.

I've been teaching memoir for six years now at StoryStudio Chicago, and it is my dream job. When my editor at the WIRoB asked me to write about what it's like to teach memoir, I was first excited (it's nice to have work solicited), but then I started worrying: I am used to talking about the craft of writing memoir with writers, but how would I write about teaching memoir for the general reading public? I have to confess I dragged my feet, and my editor had to be extra patient until I thankfully had a great discussion with a beginning memoir class during which I figured out what I thought was the right angle on the topic.

So, if you have a few minutes, could you head on over, and then come back and let me know here what you think? There's no spot to leave comments at WIRoB, but thankfully, there is here. Which is one reason I love blogging - it allows for a dialogue with readers.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

15 comments:

  1. Ja, das ist die grosse Kunst: die Essenz einer Geschichte zu finden. Guter Artikel! Und ehrlich gesagt, mir war nicht klar, mit was fuer Schicksalen Du auf Grund deiner Arbeit konfrontiert wirst. Das ist bestimmt nicht immer leicht auszuhalten und rein professionell anzugehen.

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    1. Barbara - danke! Und die schweren Geschichten lassen sich eben nur aushalten durchs professionelle Angehen.

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  2. That is a really lovely piece Annette and it leaves me thinking differently about my writing. I guess it is like trying to live life in the present and recognize the importance of this particular moment. It is the moments that really engage us that make life interesting. Likewise stories are also made of moments.

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    1. i Live 360 - so good to have you stop by! Yes, the art is in finding that particular moment that makes the story.

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  3. Wonderful piece, Annette. It has been an honor to have you prod us along as writers.

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  4. Thank-you for the link. I agree that knowing how to write an account is a skill worth cultivating. I joined a small circle of lay writers and every week we shared snippets of our project. What a wonderful collection of stories I gathered. My father left a journal written about his life in Schlesian and his coming to America. It was written in long hand and for years I tried to decipher his handwriting and his German. Then ten years ago I asked my mother to read the journal aloud on tape and I transcribed it and translated it into English. What a treasure that now his great-grandchildren can read and understand. I put it on my blog site because I find my family reads it more often there, on the computer, than if it was published. You can find it on my Pages link.

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    1. BusyB - wow! What a gift to your family that you thought of having your mom read your dad's writings, and then went to the trouble of transcribing and translating them. Thanks for sharing your process! It's also nice to hear that your blog is a good source for your family as well.

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  5. Hi Annette,
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us! It's a wonderful piece and, as one of your lucky students I can say it's been a privilege for us as well. I know first hand what a different honing in to a certain element or part of a story can make. Look forward to getting back into my memoir groove after the holidays.

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    1. Diane - thanks! I am looking forward to your return, too!

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  6. Annette,

    A lot of what I learned in your class was crystallized in that article--especially the focus on the crafting of the story via individual scenes. Learning to do that as a writer has changed the way I read--I now see so many writers, even the canonized ones, "going small." Excellent article!!

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    1. Tom - thank you so much for your comment. It is always immensely rewarding and illuminating for me to hear what impact a class of mine has had.

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  7. Excellent article, Annette. So much difference in 'reporting' a story and writing a heartfelt memoir piece. Enjoyed reading this essay. I especially like the title. I'm one of those who think titles are of mega importance. And they're so hard to choose sometimes.

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    1. Nancy - thanks! Let me tell you, in this case the title was the easiest part of the essay.

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