Writing About Family with George Howe Colt
Memoir Writing Workshop
“A man is worth most to himself and to others, whether as an observer, or poet, or neighbor, or friend, where he is most himself, most contented and at home.” (Thoreau, Journal, November 20, 1857)
We will explore the challenges and rewards of writing about what Dodie Smith, author of I Capture the Castle, called “that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.”
We will read, write, and revise, as we consider issues both micro (what makes a good first sentence? a good first paragraph?) and macro (how do we write about our families in ways others might wish to read?). We will discuss the ethics of writing about those near (and, if we’re lucky, dear) to us.
“You own everything that happened to you,” essayist Anne Lamott has written.
What happens when ownership overlaps — when what happened to you also happened to other people? What, if anything, do you owe them?
Although fiction writers are welcome, the workshop may be most useful to those who write–or wish to write–personal essays, memoir, or family histories.
George Howe Colt is the bestselling author of The Big House, which was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Brothers; November of the Soul; and The Game. He lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife, the writer Anne Fadiman.