Memoir in Progress - Remote!

8 Thursdays from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST), starting September 23rd
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: Intermediate
Adult (18+)
11 seats max
Only 3 spots left!

Writing the first draft of your memoir can be daunting. Determining its scope, narrative voice, and perhaps the most challenging of all, figuring out how to handle time, are no easy tasks. But guidance in a group setting of peers facing similar questions can help. This class will tackle these big-picture issues and ultimately help you find your book structure and refine your story.

Rather than a traditional workshop-focused class, this class allows students to take turns sharing brief five-page excerpts, which we will workshop in class "on the fly." (I will ask you to read these excerpts a day or two before we discuss them in class.) We'll discuss each writer's work, and then you'll send some written comments to each writer after class.

In the remaining time, you will participate in some in-class exercises, and we'll discuss craft issues such as writing scenes vs. exposition, avoiding cliché, developing character, and "truth" and memory as it relates to recovering and recreating the past. We will also examine some exemplary memoirs and personal essays, including work by such authors as: Edwidge Danticat, Carlos Eire, Tara Westover, Tova Mirvis, Sherman Alexie, John Lewis, George Hodgman, and others.

Your primary work outside of class is continuing to write, with the goal of each student writing 5 new pages or revising 10 pages each week, and developing a solid outline of your memoir in progress. On the last day of class, writers may hand in 10 pages of their work to receive critique from the instructor for additional feedback.

Designed for writers with some knowledge of the craft of memoir writing who have either: (a) begun at least three chapters of a full-length memoir or (b) begun at least three essays of a connected series of personal essays. Please come to the first class with a copy of "an elevator pitch" for your potential or existing memoir (a compelling title and 150-word blurb that summarizes and encapsulates your work) or the first page of your memoir/essay collection.

Please note: This class does meet November 11th.

This class will be hosted using live Zoom meetings! You will be able to participate in class via Zoom videoconference from wherever you’re most comfortable. All you’ll need is a laptop or a phone! About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting via Zoom–no need to download anything or sign up for Zoom in advance! If you have questions about remote learning, please feel free to reach out to [email protected] for more information.

For a glimpse at how remote learning works, look no further than the deep Zoom discussion of writing and literature below:

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Judah Leblang
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"


  • Writing Homework
  • Reading Homework
  • Revision Assignments
  • Workshop
  • Instructor Feedback
  • In-Class Writing


  • Book-Length Memoir
  • Nonfiction

Commitment Level



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