Susan Morse was the Craft Talk Author for the Family Memoir workshop, December 8 2012. Here Susan writes about her own experiences at GWN!
Last Saturday I went to a workshop run by a New York City nonprofit organization helping underserved, public high school girls find their writing voices. They invited me to give a “Craft Talk” at their afternoon Memoir Workshop, for which the theme was Family History. Girls Write Now has been doing what it does for 15 years: matching young female writers with mentors from the industry—editors, teachers, writers—for one-on-one guidance. They’ve been honored by the White House (twice!) and the MacArthur Foundation. A hundred percent of their graduates continue their education in college. When I arrived, I could tell right away that these women are not messing around, because while they were all busy with a writing exercise called Opening Lines, I took a look at the afternoon’s 21-page handout. In the back was an appendix of genre terms, like this one:
- Apostrophe: an address to a person (living or dead), place or thing, which is absent but treated as though present and capable of understanding and responding.
And here I thought an apostrophe was that little tadpole you can’t figure out what to do with when the word you want to stick it onto ends with an “s.” I gave a slightly demented half-hour talk on my process (got a laugh when I told them I’ve never taken a writing class and that my French papers in college were utter drivel) and slipped them a five-minute reading demonstrating how and when a writer can get away with misquoting and satirizing the villain in a true story. Then we discussed why I might have wanted to do this (for revenge, of course) and finished up with a rousing Q&A. Here’s a standout question they threw me:
- Which do you consider yourself first: A writer or a family member?
Fantastic question for a memoirist. Girls Write Now rocks.