Memoir as Fiction (Weekend- Level: All) – Dan Mueller
Here’s a confession: very little of interest to others has happened to me in my life. Here’s another: a lot of potentially interesting things have almost happened. For this reason, a lot of the fiction I’ve written could be called “autobiographical,” or stories inspired by things that happened but which found their ultimate form and meaning through my own invention. What if what happened to me had happened to someone else, someone without my sense of discretion, or selflessness, or egotism, or courage, or cowardice, or insight, or lack thereof? The truth is, for every catastrophe we narrowly avoid, we can imagine someone who might not be able to, someone whose character traits, whether admirable or pitiable or something in between, might predispose them to make a mess of things.
In this workshop, we’ll look to our own lives for the material of our fiction. We’ll also look to memoir for the narrative and poetical strategies that lend credibility to our stories and induce a reader’s willing suspension of disbelief. We’ll read examples of fiction and memoir, much of it flash, and produce writing in response to prompts meant to instill new ways of approaching and utilizing autobiographical experiences. Ultimately, we’ll amaze ourselves and each other with the magic to be found in our own—at least, to us—humdrum lives.
Letter to follow
Dan Mueller - photo credit The Albuquerque Journal
Dan Mueller is the author of two collections of short stories, How Animals Mate (Overlook Press, 1999), which won the Sewanee Fiction Prize, and Nights I Dreamed of Hubert Humphrey (Outpost 19 Books, 2013). His work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Story Quarterly, The Iowa Review, Joyland, Joyland Retro, Prairie Schooner, Gargoyle, CutBank, Surreal South, The Cincinnati Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Story, The Mississippi Review, The Crescent Review, Playboy, and other journals and anthologies. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Henfield Foundation, University of Virginia, and Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He currently directs the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico and teaches on the creative writing faculty of the Low-Residency MFA Program at Queens University of Charlotte.