Monthly drop-in sessions focus on different aspects of writing spiritual memoir: themes that commonly arise, craft techniques, challenges and joys of the writing process, and practices for opening our work to the spirit’s movement. Sessions include writing exercises, examples from leading and emerging writers, lecture, and small group conversation.
When we exercise compassion, we take hurt seriously, treating it as unacceptable and worthy of our loving attention. We’ll explore memoir writing as an act of compassion—toward our younger selves, our present-day selves, and humanity as a whole.
February: Perspective and Insight
All memoir is a dialogue between past and present, between the “character” you were then and the “narrator” you are today. We’ll practice using the reflective voice in memoir as a way to invite perspective and insight.
March: Writing Trauma, with guest author Susan Power
How do we write difficult memories with open hearts, good self-care, and art? “Let story go where it wants to go,” author Susan Power advises. Power will guide us through different strategies—including fiction—for writing about trauma and getting at the truth of our experience.
April: Holy Play
Writing brings us the best surprises when we don’t take ourselves too seriously! We’ll use whimsical entries into memory, learning how to shake off the inner critic and welcome the unexpected, ever-creating spirit.
May: Writing about Others
Our stories are crowded with people. How can we write about them with compassion? How can we represent them on the page in a way that’s respectful, multidimensional, and engaging—moving us, as Diane Glancy says, “from an objectifying relationship into a relationship with a Sacred Other”?
June: Compassion and Revision
The roots of both revision and respect mean “see again.” A rough draft is one dimension of a story; when we revise, we honor ourselves and our stories by seeing new dimensions.
Writing instructor and spiritual director Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew is the author of Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir; Living Revision: Opening the Writer’s Art; and many other books, essays, and short memoirs. Her work explores intersections between spiritual growth and the creative process.
Susan Power is the author of The Grass Dancer (1995 PEN/Hemingway prize), Roofwalker (2002 Milkweed National Fiction Prize), and Sacred Wilderness. Her short stories and essays have been widely published in journals, magazines and anthologies including The Best American Short Stories of 1993 and Granta. An enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, born and raised in Chicago, she is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop who makes her home in St. Paul.
This Program’s Calendar Entries
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