The Accidental Memoirist by Felicia Schneiderhan

“Writing memoir gives us a new understanding of events that have happened, and helps us to make sense of our lives in completely new ways – ways we can’t see just thinking or talking about it.”

A while back, my editor at a Chicago newspaper assigned me a story about the Chicago White Sox. I knew jack about baseball, even less about how to conduct an interview with Major League players. But I took the assignment because I liked the challenge. (This same editor assigned me a story about flying an airplane for the first time – my photographer barely survived the stress.) The newspaper article I wrote was pretty weak; the story of how I got the story was a lot more interesting (like cornering Paul Konerko on a couch). I wrote that personal essay (a.k.a. memoir) and it landed in the literary journal Sport Literature.

I was hooked. My career as an accidental memoirist has led to articles in national magazines, essays in literary journals, and my full-length book, Newlyweds Afloat.

Maybe you, too, are an Accidental Memoirist. Or maybe you’ve had the push to write memoir, but you are doing your best to ignore it (let’s call you the Reluctant Memoirist).

Let me just tell you why you may want to write memoir. Memoir is powerful for us as writers; we often don’t know our story until we write it. Writing memoir gives us a new understanding of events that have happened, and helps us to make sense of our lives in completely new ways – ways we can’t see just thinking or talking about it.

What I’m saying is, memoir writing is super cool.

This summer I developed a workshop, Gymnastics for Memoir Writers, for the Midwest Writing Center  (a phenomenal organization with amazing support and opportunities for writers). The online workshop went so well that I wanted to offer it again. Lake Superior Writers is the host and sponsor for this fall’s workshop.

A lot of us are struggling with isolation. Our regular writing routines are in shambles. We’re trying to get our footing as writers, as creative people, in this new world. Here’s one way to do that. 

So:

If you’ve always wanted to write memoir…

If you’ve written half a memoir…

If you’ve written a lot of memoir…

Or if you’ve never considered writing memoir until right now…

Gymnastics for Memoir Writers could be just what you need to get going. Or at least do something fun on Thursday nights when it’s dark and cold outside.

Instructor Felicia Schneiderhan is a Duluth-based award-winning writer and instructor. Her work appears in many literary journals and national magazines, and she hosts “Drawn to Write,” a new show on WDSE about writers and artists.

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