Workshop Number: 7
Leaders: Liz Yeats
Who May Register?: Open to All
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 25%
Lecture: 15%
Discussion: 25%
Experiential Activities: 35%

Who May Attend?
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)

Writing memoir helps you find your voice and reach out to others. By recording your memories, you create a legacy. In this workshop we will learn how to tell our life stories, humorous and serious, with a goal toward creating lasting pieces that entertain, inspire, and transform.

Workshop Description

Our life-stories are some of our most precious “possessions”, especially those that capture events that changed our lives or the lives of others. Writing memoir is all about creating those stories. You don’t have to be old to write memoir. Even high school students have had events in their lives that have changed them – stories worth sharing with others. Our words can be powerful in transforming others, capturing our experiences from which we have grown and changed.

In this workshop we will consider which stories we want to write about, focus why we think those stories are important and hone our skills through writing exercises appropriate to writing memoir. Each day will include worship, brief talks and discussion about the craft of writing memoir, and an exercise where we write and share our work in smaller groups. Participants may be asked to take some time to write between sessions.
Each session will build on the previous ones:

  1. Welcome and introduction to mining our memories and conducting research to write your experience in authentic ways.
  2. Focusing your story: theme, story arc, character, setting,   
  3. Adding sensory details into your story.
  4. Connecting your unique story to Quaker faith and practice
  5. Polishing our work and exploring future direction in writing memoir.

Participants will be encouraged to read some short memoir pieces from a list supplied by the leader before they arrive at the Gathering and begin considering what they would like to write about. Participants are asked to identify a photo of one life event that might be part of the final events they focus on in their writing or not. This photo will be used in one of the exercises.

The goal will be for each participant to gain increased skill in narrative writing and create at least one draft short narrative life story or one life story about someone else whose life story they wish to share with others.

Leader Experience

I have been involved in the publishing world since the 1980s as a writer, editor, and publisher. I have essays and stories in various Quaker publications and began writing my own memoir pieces and family memoirs for other people in the early 2000s. I am presently working on the family memoir of a woman who was a 20th century art historian. Over the years I have enjoyed working with other authors to bring their writing to publication.

Since the 1970s I have been leading interactive workshops on various justice, peace and Quaker themes with people of all ages, including 4 years of Gathering workshops 2009-2012, the first two years on discernment and the second two on FCNL lobbying. I find the workshop format one in which I, as leader, can share what I know but where all the participants can learn from each other. I look forward to sharing skills, concepts and ideas about writing memoir with Friends this summer.  

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