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2014 Summer Writing Retreat - The Art of Memoir: Discovering and Deepening Your Story

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Sul Ross State University
Alpine, TX 79832

8/3/2014 to 8/7/2014 From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

This class is sold out.  To be added to the wait list, contact us at (512) 499-8914.


Retreat Orientation to be held Saturday, August 2, at 6 pm -- Details will be shared with participants in advance of the retreat's start date.


with Donna M. Johnson and guest lecturer Kirk Wilson

$329 Members

$379 Non-Members

"This was the best writing workshop I have ever attended."

-- 2013 Summer Writing Retreat Attendee on Donna Johnson's Class

The task of the memoirist is to sift through events and memory to uncover the hidden patterns that shape a life. Or as one writer put it: It’s a way to figure out who you used to be and how you got to be who you are now. This class focuses on the quest to find and deepen personal narrative through the exploration of persona, time, tension, character, voice/tone and other elements of creative nonfiction.

Taught by an award-winning memoirist with guest lectures by a widely-published author of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, the Art of Memoir utilizes the classroom and small workshop experience to create a nurturing environment that encourages intimacy and risk taking.

Class Takeaways

• Knowledge of the fundamental elements of memoir and creative nonfiction

• How to make the reader your accomplice

• Methods for incorporating showing and telling into the narrative

• An understanding of story structures

• How to create scenes

• How to find audiences for your work

Who Should Attend:

• Writers with memoirs in progress and those who are just beginning

• Fiction writers beginning a memoir or creative nonfiction project

• Those working on memoir as a family project

Requirements: Please bring any manuscripts, chapters, outlines or fragments of memoir you may be working on. The instructor will work with the group as a whole and with participants individually to review and provide feedback on writing projects. Peer editing and feedback will also be a part of this class experience. Everyone will have an opportunity to present work as well as the right to opt out of presentation.

About the Instructor:  Donna M. Johnson is the author of Holy Ghost Girl, a critically acclaimed memoir deemed “enthralling” by the New York Times and “compulsively readable” by Texas Monthly. Oprah named the book to her Memoirs We Love list twice. Holy Ghost Girl won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and took top honors at the Books for a Better Life Awards in Manhattan.Donna’s work had been collected in several anthologies. She has written about religion, family and culture for Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Shambhala Sun, the Psychology Today blog, the Dallas Morning News, and other publications.

Guest Lecturer Kirk Wilson’s memoir/essay A Brief and Necessary Madness was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013. Kirk writes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. His work has recently appeared in Confrontation, Eclipse, Folly, The Langdon Review, Meridian, Midway Journal, The New Guard Literary Review, River Teeth, Soundings East, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and The Wordstock 10 anthology. A chapbook of poetry, The Early Word, was published by Burning Deck press. Kirk’s nonfiction book Unsolved, an investigation into ten high profile murders, has been published in six editions in the US and UK. Kirk has studied with Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief and Animal Crackers, and Editor of One Story magazine. Karen Russell has called Kirk “a rare talent with a gloriously expansive view.” Visit Kirk at


Note: All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee. Tickets are not refundable, but they are transferable. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster and send your replacement the necessary information.


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to