Using V.S. Pritchett’s observation about memoir as our starting point—that “it’s all in the art; you get no credit for living”—The Authentic Voice is a rigorous, supportive workshop for writers of short memoir and personal essays.

I have taught many versions of this workshop over the years, ranging from the 90-minute introduction to the 10-week course. 

In this workshop you’ll learn to create the sort of powerful “voice” you admire in the work of your favorite writers, the style or narrator voice on the page that drives an enthusiastic reader further into your memoir or essay. No matter how difficult or painful the subject, a reader will always accompany an author who has learned to tell her story by harnessing a distinct and engaging voice.

My main goal will be to help you find and write your story—not just the story you want to tell, but the story you need to tell. We’ll focus our work together to help you to discover the story beneath the story, to unlock the voice that helps you reshape personal experiences into a highly compelling narrative.

What Makes This Workshop Different?

My classes offer a unique opportunity for students to work with an experienced, empathetic teacher who reads your work with generosity, helping you to write more deeply than you thought you wanted to or could.

My focus on helping students to create authentic, emotionally engaged, honest writing.  Through frequent and close readings not only of each other’s work, but also that of contemporary as well as “classic” essayists and memoirists, we’ll learn to access “connected writing”— writing that not only furthers your story, but enacts the very journey you mean to tell.

Right For You?

  • This class is ideal for students who have some background with creative writing workshops, and/or who make it a point to keep up with current memoir and essay and literary journals

  • Do you have an MFA already? Many students I’ve taught find that my workshop method augments the skills they’ve already learned.

  • Any student who has a serious desire to learn and get better

After taking my class, you will:

  • Discover the power of “voice” in the work of successful, published CNF writers

  • Practice “voice” in your own work by engaging your work and that of peer writers in a serious, respectful, productive, and safe space.

  • Be prepared to publish your work in top journals and magazines.


Please drop me a line.

Comments FROM
Previous Students

The instructor demonstrates a true talent for inspiring and managing high-level discussions of the course content. His feedback is well-articulated, supportive and beneficial.

Paul introduced us to the subject in a very efficient and productive way. His own experience in writing a memoir gave him a lot of credibility. His feedback on our writing was excellent—he really took the time to provide meaningful info.

Paul is an excellent teacher. He is incredibly smart and well read. He creates a positive learning environment and challenges his students to grow & achieve their best.

Paul has the unusual combination of skills that encompass professional accomplishment, the ability to facilitate and guide a group towards a positive and constructive outcome.

The class was very respectful of everyone’s work – the writing and not the personal content was what was criticized.

Keep having Paul Z!