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If you (or someone you know) are looking to begin a project about your life story — an autobiography, a memoir, a collection of true stories — and live in the Grand Traverse region, I’d like to invite you to a small workshop to do just that: explore and share life stories.

We’ll meet four times through August, one Thursday or Friday afternoon per week, beginning August 3 or 4, at my home near Omena (the space in the photo with this post shows one location where we might meet). Each meeting we’ll do some writing and explore some approaches and exercises to retrace and revive significant moments and memories — the how-to of writing true stories about your own life. Each week you’ll grow a collection of your own writing. I hope you’ll also grow energized about your project, with a more focused idea of that project and a realistic plan for making it happen.

If you’re inspired, you’ll also be able to continue the journey with me. I’m designing this one-month workshop as a test run — a sort of “sea trial” — of longer workshops I plan to run throughout the year. There will be a nominal cost to this workshop, but my primary goal is to listen to you about what works best, to apply to the coming full-length workshops.

This workshop is built around writing, but it is not a conventional “writing workshop.” Our focus is upon discovering and sharing your life stories, and writing is a tool, not an obstacle. There is, therefore, no requirement for particular writing education or experience. You’ll gain skill and confidence in your writing as you work with your peers and with me.

Whether you have already begun in some way, or whether you simply have an idea that you’d like to make “something,” this workshop is a good place to start. We’ll examine the different kinds of writing projects (autobiography, memoir, etc.) and find what fits best with your personal goals. We’ll be practical, too, addressing questions like:

  • How do I revive faded memories?
  • How can I remember what people said years ago?
  • Will I offend somebody?
  • How long does it actually take to write a full memoir?

I’m offering to be your guide and your coach through the life-story process; through the longer workshops to come, I can even take you all the way to and through publication. My academic training is in history and I am an experienced writer, with a particular (although not exclusive) focus on personal essay and memoir, and on oral storytelling. In my approach, I’m guided by my belief that we understand each other and ourselves through stories, and that sharing our stories is an act of love.

Thank you if you’ve read this far in this message. I must limit this test workshop to six people, so if you’re interested in joining, please email me at dstewart@historybydesign or call me at 231-715-1786 soon. I look forward to talking with you.