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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Memoir Essentials: Me, Myself, I (Refining the Narrator)

No Longer Enrolling

  • $130.00 Non-Member
  • $110.00 Member

Class Description

The memoirist is asked to play many roles: simultaneously that of the author, the narrator, and the character. And while those of the author (you who sits at the keyboard) and the character (younger you, in the scenes you are recollecting) may be easily understood, that of the narrator is both the slipperiest and perhaps the most important. As Vivian Gornick writes, “We pull from ourselves the narrator who can shape better than we can the inchoate flow of events into which we are continually being plunged.” The narrator is the one who both makes sense of and problematizes life, the one who pulls the reader through the book. Philip Lopate reminds us that the narrator must do no less than deliver to the reader what they’ve come to the book for: the sense that an active, searching mind lies behind the memoirist’s inquiry. So much for the narrator to do! But who is this crucial construct?

In this class, we’ll practice distinguishing the character from the narrator in published work. We’ll analyze what a strong narrator can give an author—and, equally important, when the narrator should step back and allow the character to come to the forefront. We’ll move from examining published memoirs and craft essays to rewriting our own drafts into multiple levels of narration and doing several exercises to figure out how the tools we discover together can best aid our own prose. Please bring at least 15 pages of contiguous memoir draft to work from. This is the second in a series of one-day classes in writing the memoir that will span the year, appropriate both for memoirists with advanced drafts and for those just beginning their writing.

Part of GrubStreet's "Memoir Essentials" Series, led by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich and dedicated to exploring the core elements of memoir writing. Classes in this series include:

  • Memoir Essentials: Finding Your Story
  • Memoir Essentials: Me, Myself, I (Refining the Narrator)
  • Memoir Essentials: Nothing But Time
  • Memoir Essentials: The Structure of Memoir
  • Memoir Essentials: They’re Such Characters! (Characterizing Others)
  • Memoir Essentials: You’re Such a Character! (Characterizing Yourself)
  • Memoir Essentials: The Spotlight and the Shadows
  • Memoir Essentials: Shaping Your Story
Scholarships Format/Location

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

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!