(2 Night Stay) Self Portrait: The Heart of Memoir


(2 Night Stay) Self Portrait: The Heart of Memoir


This year we are introducing an all-inclusive package for workshop participants to stay in the House during weekend experiences. This more holistic writing experience offers the opportunity to remain in the writers’ ambiance with fellow students, giving a space for no one and nothing to interrupt from your writing experience.

Instead of commuting back and forth, you have the opportunity to make the Writers’ House your home away from home, and can trade out heavy rain boots for your slippers as you only have to walk downstairs to attend the workshop. And, unlike hotels, by the end of the Sunday workshop, you don’t have to leave at any certain time. You can remain in the House as you compose your thoughts and writing experiences you’ve gained from the workshop. IWH Members receive 10% off both their workshop and their stay.

See you at the house!

This stay is for November 8th- 10th for the Self Portrait: The Heart of Memoir workshop.


Most of us know the standard tools of characterization, how to make fictional characters more like flesh-and-blood people. Yet the flesh-and-blood "I" of memoir, at least in early drafts, often seems ethereal and disembodied, like the voiceover of a documentary. We may fail to characterize fully the narrator of a true story, the story of "I." That problem may be because it's a story of a younger self; the writer is not exactly that person anymore, so they must reimagine or recreate what that person was like. If I do not understand the person at the center of my story, readers are not going to understand my unique perspective. And the main character of a memoir must be unique.

In The Writing Habit, author David Huddle notes: “You’d be surprised how many of us feel that our own lives are not literarily worthy, our lives are just not interesting enough.” Perhaps we simply haven’t asked the right questions. During this weekend retreat, we will have some fun with Huddle’s “Questionnaire for an Autobiographical Portrait,” as we take a fresh look at the person telling the tale.

Our time together will involve writing in response to these questions or other exercises, then reading our pages to the group. The recollections of others frequently spark our own memories, causing what essayist Phillip Lopate calls a "shiver of self-recognition." Also, we will spend some time reading short passages by established writers. Both these activities will expand our knowledge of what can be created from memory. Writers of all genres, and all levels of experience, are most welcome.

When:  Friday, November 8th, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday, November 9th, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Sunday, November 10th, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Where:  Iowa Writers' House, 332 East Davenport St.

Cost: $265

All course information is sent to participants upon registering including confirmation of workshop times, location, and materials.

Please review our cancellation policy: http://www.iowawritershouse.org/cancellation-policy

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