This is a writing workshop for writers who have finished a draft of a book-length memoir. Stephen Koch, in his great book, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, writes, “The operational word here is whole. A completed movement from beginning to end defines a draft. Until you have gone that distance you won’t have a draft.” Whole, however, does not mean, finished. When you have a complete draft, you are ready for substantive revision of that whole. You are ready to revise for structure, for persona and characterization and plot. Koch writes, “In a second draft, you are going to be hauling huge hunks of prose to completely new places, cutting whole chapters, banishing irrelevant characters, and adding relevant ones.” In other words, you won’t be polishing and tinkering, you will be performing an overhaul of a draft that is still full of unrealized possibilities. This is a class designed to guide in that overhaul to your next draft’s possibilities. In this class, you and I will read the other participants’ drafts, and together we will offer encouragement and constructive criticism. Because this is a class on the memoir, we also will discuss how memory and forgetting shape us, and shape our writing about real places, lives, and events. We will explore the blurred boundary where memory is both truth and invention. We will explore how the memoirist must balance an obligation to drama with an obligation to real lives: to their subjects and to their readers. In our week together, in our discussion of two published memoirs and our discussion of your manuscripts, we will explore these questions, and we will explore how craft informs and guides our process.
Gregory Martin is the author of Mountain City, a memoir of the life of a town of thirty-three people in remote northeastern Nevada, which was named a New York Times Notable Book, one of ten Larger-than-Life Memoirs on NPR's Morning Edition, and is referred to by some people in Mountain City as "the book." Martin's second book, a memoir Stories for Boys, is forthcoming from Hawthorne Books in Fall 2012. Martin's work has appeared in The Sun, The Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, The Writer, Witness and elsewhere. For his teaching, Martin has received the Keleher Award for Outstanding Assistant Professor, the Gunter Starkey Award for Teaching Excellence from the University of New Mexico's College of Arts and Sciences, and the University of New Mexico Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.