Announcing a new summer intensive for ambitious memoir writers
Brave On The Page: How to Dig Deep, Raise the Stakes, and Craft Your Most Compelling Life Stories
5 Wednesdays: July 5 to August 2, 2017, 6 to 9 PM
Includes bonus 30-min coaching call to enhance learning
Does fear keep you from writing your most important life stories?
Then you might identify with Lisa*, a talented young writer and sculptor I worked with several years ago.
Lisa had been adopted as a child, and she often still felt like an orphan in the world. These experiences had negatively shaped her relationships, but had also helped her become a caring person who craved meaningful connections.
Lisa helped couples to create meaningful wedding ceremonies, and she was writing a book — part memoir, part instructional guide — based on this work.
But Lisa felt stuck.
For one thing, she struggled to capture a more authentic and relaxed version of herself—the honest, smart, funny voice she used in her private journals—in her book.
Another obstacle was deciding just what her form her book should take. Was she supposed to be telling her personal story? Offering wedding advice? Something in-between?
Lisa had internalized shame about her past, which blocked her writing progress.
As we worked together, Lisa came to see how all the pieces of her background — orphan, adopted child, artist, new wife — were competing for attention.
She saw there was a deeper story living in the margins of her work.
Together we uncovered that deeper story...
...about a sculptor who'd started her journey in life with no real fixed sense of belonging, but who had learned along the way to become open, creative, resilient.
After we'd finished our work together, Lisa sent me an email. "Everything you said rang so true” she wrote. "The idea of my memoir being about finding my voice as an artist made me tear up. Thanks for your kind tone, suspension of judgment, and faith in my project.”
*not her real name.
BRAVE ON THE PAGE is a new workshop to help writers better understand their own life stories, so they can create more compelling memoirs.
"Good writing has two characteristics...It's alive on the page and the reader is persuaded that the writer is on a voyage of discovery," writes memoirist and critic Vivian Gornick.
Throughout our 5-week session we will explore the ways in which "unpacking" our deeper stories helps to unlock our most powerful voice on the page, and how it can provide clues about the form and shape our memoirs can take.
Because of my unique approach, with its balance of intuition, analysis, and focus on craft, this workshop is appropriate for writers at all levels. (I often have both beginners and MFA grads in the same workshop). No matter your level of skill and experience, I guarantee you will gain important skills and insights.
Each meeting will focus primarily on your work, but will also include guided discussions and close readings of sample memoirs. Assignments arise out of these close readings, and you should expect to write 5 pieces (including revisions) throughout the 5-week session.
Assignments can be based on a writing project in progress, but I strongly encourage you to submit new work.
My goal is always to create a safe and supportive atmosphere where you are encouraged to take creative risks in order to acquire new skills and insights.
Location: The workshop meets at a private residence in Goleta, CA.
- Helps you gain clarity about those big, messy, difficult stories you must write
- Teaches you how to raise the dramatic stakes and embrace conflict in your work, creating a warts-and-all story that compels, not repels
- Shows you how to dig deeper and become more vulnerable on the page
- Gets you connected and accountable to community of other smart, engaged writers
- Is limited to a small and select group of only 8 writers (plus instructor) so that we can focus intensively on your work
Bonus (Included in the Fee)
In addition to our 5 weekly meetings (July 5, 12, 19, 26 & August 2) and ongoing in-class feedback on your work, I will be providing an extra level of support to help you succeed:
- 24/7 availability by email for any questions that arise about writing
- One FREE 30-minute individual coaching session to ensure you are integrating what we're learning into your own writing
I accept payments thru Stripe. Simply click the YES, I WANT TO SIGN UP! button and follow registration instructions. You may also email me to arrange for personal checks. Please email me.
Full refunds are available up to one week before the workshop. If you need to withdraw for whatever reason up until our first workshop, I will refund 50% of the workshop fee. There is no refund after the first session.
Since 2005 I've helped dozens of writers to transform their life stories into successful work.
"Paul is an attentive and sensitive teacher who knows how to inspire his students to dig deep and write close to the bone. He asks the kinds of questions that help me see aspects of my writing I had never noticed before. He creates a safe space for writers to go deep."
—Raven Wolfe, Goleta, CA, author of Attempting Flight
“As a writing teacher, Paul focuses on the inseparability of artistic depth and technical skill. His class made me better at story and structure—and as a writer who has always worked from instinct alone, this was enormously helpful…Paul has a wonderful ability to see into a writer’s dilemma and offer just the right advice for moving through it. Most important, he offers it in the right way, clearly but with a light touch. I’ve gone back to my writing career with increased confidence.”
—Susan Piver, Boston, MA, author of NYT-bestselling The Hard Questions series
“We met at University of the Arts [in Philadelphia] a number of years ago. You were the best writing teaching I have ever had…bar none (and I've had quite a few!) Just wanted to tell you that the story I wrote in your workshop is about to be published...Your way of teaching, using models of excellent writing along with thoughtful responses in a workshop setting (along with your warm and supportive personality) has proven to be the most generative approach I have ever experienced. Just wanted to let you know that."
—Marsha Pincus, Philadelphia, PA, Carnegie Fellow & Philadelphia Teacher of the Year
“I was impressed with Paul's vast literary knowledge and insight into the craft of memoir, as well as other genres. He is a highly knowledgeable teacher with literary sensibilities whose skills I will call upon again and again—he has a unique ability to locate the voice behind the story and help the writer to create an uncommonly powerful narrative.”
—Ilie Ruby, Boston, MA, The Language of Trees and The Salt God's Daughter
“WARNING! Paul Z is the kindest disciplinarian I've ever met, and he completely transformed my writing. Not only did he nudge me down new roads,and lead me up others, but he also showed me how to leverage every word, how to make each twist and turn count, how to "earn" the swerve away from traditional forms, how to ask more from myself on the page. (Thanks for a wonderful workshop experience with you. You really are a special teacher). "
—Tasmine Mocke, MFA , New York City
“Paul’s feedback and coaching on my memoir-based essay in 2016 helped me see how I needed to get deeper into my story and the ways in which I needed to reconsider the core elements of my story. This feedback was extremely valuable for both the big-picture views and the specific direction of how I could approach a revision. I feel so much better prepared to revise this essay now, after months of letting it languish in unfinished drafts.”
—Sari Boren, Boston, MA.