Friday, February 12, 2010

The Right Writing Class?

Each week, I get a letter from a student asking advice on classes and what I recommend for the memoir writer.

I thought I'd pull together a few guidelines that are especially vital for those who are just stepping into the process of writing about a life experience.


1) Search for professionalism and exceptional talent�in equal measure.
2) Try to study in a collegiate program�PSU, PCC, or an MFA.
3) If a collegiate program isn�t available, study with a published writer you admire. Published means in a journal, magazine, via a college press or with a major press.

WARNING: If you must take a grassroots, home-based teaching, with an unpublished writer�be on alert.

When one begins her memoir-writing journey, she is as tender and as fragile as a new bloom arising from the wet earth. She is like an orchid. So delicate. And, as she writes her life, the writer also cracks open her greatest sorrows and deepest wounds for another to view.

What could be more frightening?

So often, this very act of opening becomes the fodder and fuel of the unskilled teacher, and fellow minions, who then launch an ego trip at the writer's expense. The result is to waste time, money and emotional energy.

In my most humble view, a writer sells herself short when she puts herself into the hands of the unskilled. Writers of memoir must treat themselves with great care throughout the writing process. I encourage writers to be the mother they wanted for themselves and to find the courage to act as their own best advocate in self preservation and protection, especially when attending groups of want-to-be writers and untested teachers.

Not even a well-published author knows more about you and your journey than you do. Be tough on your teachers. Demand excellence. You won't be sorry.

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