Everyone has family stories. But which ones do you want to tell? Which ones can you tell? The Family Memoir Workshop asked mentors and mentees to transform their families into compelling characters while still writing truthful portraits of them.
We began by sketching a memorable ￼￼moment, which became the foundation for another exercise: building a scene enlivened by details and dialogue, aiming to capture unique quirks and habits. Then the group was asked to take a step back and explain why the moment was important, adding reflection and perspective. What made this a story worth telling versus just a fond memory?
Open Road Integrated Media guest authors Patricia Bosworth and Susan Morse entertained and inspired us with their insights into the delicate process of transforming memory into material that has the narrative force of fiction and the resonance of true stories bravely told.
As we listened to one another’s memories — of closeness and estrangement, sorrow and happiness — the group gained understanding of the craft and courage it takes to honor our family stories through the art of memoir.
From The Workshop
- Corinne Civil, Family History
“Tianna and I were like partners in crime. Well, we were good little girls. But I like to think of our relationship that way; partners in crime always have each other’s back. Before, when I had not a care in the world, we spent all day together, sitting in the warmth of the balcony and listening to the sounds of East Harlem. We would eat sandwiches or cereal, waiting for everyone else at Titi’s house to wake up so we could noisily play with the toys in our chest.” Read More
- Joanne Lin, Family History
“For the first time in a number of years, New York City was quiet. There were no televisions on in Lower Manhattan. No laptops were blaring music, there was no sign of the internet. Hurricane Sandy had left Manhattan a sea of darkness. It was the second night without power and my family was huddled in my parent’s tiny bedroom. My dog Yuki sat on the bed between my mother and me, her tiny body pressed against my leg. My brother sat on a small stool and my dad rested on the computer chair. We were using the last minutes of daylight — the tiny amount that had slipped in through the window — to play poker. Read More
On The Blog
“Everyone’s pens were moving: we all have family traditions, we’ve all heard legends of grandparents and great-grandparents, we all expect to hear certain stories every holiday. What this workshop helped us discover was that those personal memories can become stories with a larger purpose and a broad audience.”
- Mentor Nina Agrawal describes her experience learning the craft of writing family histories at the December workshop. While you’re at it, discover what mentee Rachel took from the workshop!
- “Girls Write Now Rocks!” says Susan Morse, one of our guest authors of the workshop.
- Check out what guest author Patricia Bosworth said about her sunny Saturday at GWN.