The University of Iowa

Narrowing: An Approach to Memoir Writing

Weekend June 27 to June 28 2020

Memoir writing confronts us with two sources of overwhelm: 1) the complexity of life; 2) the complexity of writing. These complexities are like whirlpools we can’t afford not to enter, lest we wind up with breezy prose. At the same time, we can’t afford to drown in them, lest we offload our problems and traumas onto the reader. The antidote to overwhelm is narrowing—in scope, in scale, but most of all, in finding points of entry. It is a principle as old as Proust’s “madeleine moment,” that portal through which the French writer entered a five-volume masterpiece. This will be a hands-on workshop for people attempting, or thinking of attempting, memoir writing. We will look at models, and participants will discuss their own projects, and then we will practice locating our portals—and going through them.



In this workshop, we will; generate new writing through exercises and assignments; provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend.