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Lessons of writing a memoir

"Many people want to write about their lives, but they don't know how or where to begin," says Ashland storyteller and author Debra Gordon Zaslow. "Other people have written memoir pieces on their own, but they want to improve the writing so they can publish their work." Gordon-Zaslow will be offering a course in Ashland called "Writing Your Life" for just those people. The course, offered on Tuesday evenings beginning Oct. 17 at the Havurah in Ashland, is designed for anyone who wants to transform personal memories into written work.

The course will emphasize in-class writing with the use of inspirational prompts and writing exercises. Along with guided visualization to evoke images of the past, the class will also cover the craft of memoir writing, including using sensory language, finding metaphor to extend meaning, developing the self as character, and writing scenes with dialogue.

Gordon-Zaslow, who has long been known as a storyteller in the Rogue Valley, completed her MFA in writing at Vermont College two years ago. She wanted to transform her account of caring for her hundred and three-year -old grandmother into a written work. "I found that the skills I had as a storyteller were helpful, but I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing. Even though I was a naturally good writer, I needed to practice writing scenes and using fresh imagery, and mostly I needed to develop my own written voice." After receiving her Masters in Creative Non-Fiction, she has recently completed her memoir, Bringing Bubbe Home, and wants to help others develop the skills to write personal narrative. Zaslow has taught storytelling at Southern Oregon University for eighteen years, has published numerous stories and articles, and has performed as a storyteller and speaker all over the country.

The classes will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 17 through Nov. 21. The location is the Havurah at 185 North. Mountain Avenue in Ashland. The cost is $18 per session. Pre-registration discount is available. Phone Debra at (541) 482-0088 or e-mail dvorat@aol.com to register or for more information.