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2017 Summer Writing Workshop - "Discovering a Life: Finding the Truth Behind the Facts in Memoir" with Donna M. Johnson

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ACC Highland Campus
6101 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78752

8/14/2017 to 8/19/2017

Online registration for the 2017 Summer Writing Workshop is now closed. If you'd like to register, please call our offices at 512-499-8914.

This class, "Discovering a Life," is sold out. We suggest you consider taking "Capturing Real Life" instead. You can also give us a call if you'd like to be added to the waitlist for "Discovering a Life," 512-499-8914.

$329 for Members (Please log in for member pricing)
$389 Non-Members

Please read both the credit card handling fee information and the refund policy at the bottom of this page before purchasing a ticket.


"Discovering a Life" Class Meeting Times:

Monday, August 14: Orientation, 6pm
Tuesday through Saturday, August 15-19: 9:00am to 3pm (one hour break for lunch)


Turning your personal biography into a publishable story requires going beyond journalistic truth to find the hidden meaning of your story. This class will explore the use of poetic truth to deepen and add interest to a memoir narrative, and to communicate nuances of emotion and experience that cannot be approached through ordinary description.

In the morning sessions
, learning will be facilitated through craft talks as well as the reading and discussion of published works. Students will have an opportunity to practice and incorporate new skills into their own work through the use of writing prompts designed to inspire and provoke.

Optional afternoon sessions
will offer supportive feedback through peer driven workshop. These afternoon workshops will be open to all participants and led by one of the two instructors. Students who elect to participate must opt in and submit work by Friday, July 7. (Workshop details and submission guidelines and instructions will be emailed to all class registrants at time of registration; students will read all workshop materials ahead of the class start date and will bring written comments with them).
Students who choose not to participate in the afternoon workshop (or who do not opt in by July 7) may use that time for themselves, to write (writing prompts will be given) or to explore.

Class takeaways will include knowledge of the fundamental elements of memoir, methods for incorporating showing and telling into the narrative, scene setting, developing complex characters, and tools for mining experience for meaning.

This workshop is appropriate for writers with memoirs in progress, those who are just beginning a memoir project, and writers with completed memoir manuscripts looking for ways to deepen the story.


About the Instructor

"This was the best writing workshop I have ever attended."
-- 2013 Summer Writing Workshop Attendee

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. Holy Ghost Girl won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and took top honors at the Books for a Better Life Awards in Manhattan. Donna has written for Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Shambhala Sun, Psychology Today, and other publications. Her work has been collected in the Her Texas and Beyond Belief anthologies. Donna is a Ragdale Fellow and was recently awarded a fellowship at the Lucas Artist Residency. She is currently at work on a second memoir.


About the Guest Instructor

Kirk Wilson is the winner of the 2016 New Millennium Award for Nonfiction. The editors of River Teeth nominated one of his memoir/essays for a Pushcart Prize, and his work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been selected for anthologies, published in numerous literary journals, and in a chapbook from Burning Deck press. His true crime classic Unsolved, an investigation into ten high profile murders, has been published in six editions in the US and UK. His website is



(Note: All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee - this fee can be avoided by mailing in a check for registration with a form. Click HERE for the form to mail with your check.)


(Please read this refund policy closely before registering for the 2017 Summer Writing Workshop; no exceptions will be made):

Through May 15, 2017: 100% refund available.
May 16 - June 23, 2017: 50% refund available.

All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation fee.

After June 23, 2017: No refunds will be made, but registrants can transfer their registration to another person as long as advance notice is given to the Writers' League of Texas. If you wish to transfer your registration, please call the WLT at 512-499-8914.