Skeletons and Dirty Linen
Writing From Life Memoir Workshop
Sydney Writers Festival
May 14, 2012
In 2006 Murdoch Books published ‘Ursula- A Voyage of Love and Danger’, my mother’s story. Many readers have asked me about the difficulties of writing so close to the bone, especially because my mother and I had such a difficult relationship.
Betrayal, loss, guilt and regret, all our family stories contain some shadows. This workshop will help you to begin to unravel those complex mysteries and secrets. The discoveries you make may be quite confronting, but they will also be what will make the most compelling writing.
Workshop topics include letting go of your writing inhibitions, research techniques, character creation, and making scenes. Using a modern psychological tool, the Genogram, you will find out how to gain new insights into the complexities of your family relationships. You will also discover how to bring creativity, focus and clarity to your writing through writing exercises, analysis of published memoir material, guidance and discussion. At the end of the day you will have some idea about structure, and some short pieces of writing inspired by your discoveries and your own creativity
“I had no idea I could write like that. The emotions that were present on the page truly surprised me” – Katrena (Workshop Participant)
“It was a workshop like no other I’ve attended before, raw, revealing, and well worth it.” Helen (Workshop Participant)
Morning Session: Creating a Genogram
1. Introduction to the Genogram, a tool to help participants reveal and interpret the dynamics of family relationships, using examples of famous people e.g. Princess Diana.
2. Using these principles the class will work together to create their own genogram of another famous person e.g. Prince Edward
3. Each workshop participant will create a genogram based on the relationship dynamics involved in their particular subject material.
Afternoon Session: Writing Your Way
1. Keep your Hand Moving: Using memoir writing examples and exercises, participants will discover how to let go of their natural inhibitions and unlock their natural creativity.
2. Real People: Readers need to care about the people whose lives are being documented. Participants will discover how to see themselves as a character relating to other characters whose lives have intersected with theirs.
3. Creating Scenes – As in fiction, memoir-writing scenes are used to propel the narrative forward. Before participants set out to write a scene they should first decide what the reader needs to find out from this piece of action, who are the scene’s main characters and what is its relevance?
About Eileen Naseby
History & General Studies Teacher – Granville and Meadowbank Technical Colleges 1976-1981
‘Skeletons and Dirty Linen – Writing for Life’ – Series of writing workshops 2008 – 2011
‘Australian Memories’ – Murdoch Books 2004
‘Australian Memories War’ – Murdoch Books 2005
‘Australian Memories Fashion’ – Murdoch Books 2005
‘Ursula- A Voyage of Love and Drama’ – Pier 9 2006
‘Looking for Love’ – in short memoir anthology ‘Grandma Magic’ Allen & Unwin 2009
Currently completing a work of fiction, ‘Don’t Go Near the Water.’