Students will attend NYC Memoir writing classes at their scheduled times via video chat (with or without cameras enabled) or by calling in to the live chat with your phone. Your exercises will be shared electronically, and the format of the live class will be the same as when you attend class in person, with students and teachers responding to your work and discussing the next week’s exercise.

The technology for attending class remotely is provided by Google Meet and is extremely easy to use. Your teacher will send you links and will provide support as needed. We hope you will continue to write and stay connected to our community during this time.

What is so challenging about writing a memoir is that you are asking yourself to take the charged events of your life and shape them aesthetically, so they appeal to a reader, a reader who doesn’t know you and doesn’t necessarily care what happened to you – unless you can make them.

Using the tried and true Writers Studio method, we will closely examine the work of writers who have been able to turn their very personal subjective stories into memoirs that are transcendentally universal. How did writers like Ed Hirsch, Annie Dillard or Joan Didion create a persona narrator who could tell their story? The answer, of course, is that successful memoir writers are able to think of themselves as characters in a story. In this eight-week course we will dive deeply into the techniques that served as a handrail for writers dealing with personal trauma. Each week we will read and emulate a different voice that has used first person to unlock the emotional power of a story or poem.

You know your story. It’s your story, but you want to familiarize yourself with the tools that will help you to tell that story in a way that is compelling, seductive or suspenseful. Often that means learning how to hold the subject matter out away from one’s self so that you can control the material, rather than be controlled by it. We will work with fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction to find the voice that works for you. During the workshop, a student will be asked to submit two pages each week to be critiqued by the teacher and other students with an opportunity in the final week to submit a longer piece.


Writers Studio Teacher

Sylvie Bertrand

Sylvie Bertrand's stories and poems have appeared in Peregrine Journal, Epiphany, Cleaver Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, Alexandria Quarterly, and December magazine, among others. She was nominated for the 2017 Pen / Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, received a 2018 Pushcart Special Mention, and was a finalist for the 2019 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize. Sylvie is the co-founding editor of Cagibi, an online and print literary journal. She studied with Philip Schultz at The Writers Studio and has degrees in Communications and Literature, Political Sciences, and a MA in Anthropology from Princeton University. She is currently completing her first novel.

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