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This class is for memoir/nonfiction writers who have a story to tell that has something to do with the brain: either the writer’s own or that of someone he or she loves or both. We’ll use passages by authors who’ve traveled this terrain as well as in-class prompts and at-home assignments to get the flow going. As we read and write, we will focus on metaphor, reflection, selection of detail, richness of voice, and how these elements can be deployed in writing about the brain.
Ann Hedreen is an author (Her Beautiful Brain, winner of a Next Gen Indie Award), teacher and documentary filmmaker. Her blog, The Restless Nest earned an honorable mention from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. She has also been published in 3rd Act Magazine, Crosscut, Verbalist’s Journal, The Seattle Times, Minerva Rising and other publications. Her films, including Zona Intangible, Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story and The Church on Dauphine Street, have won many awards. She recently finished a second memoir: After Ecstasy: Memoir of an Observant Doubter.
Teaching philosophy: I believe that writing our own stories transforms our lives. Powerfully. Radically. Not necessarily overnight, because writing is work, but I believe that when writers are doing that work, transformation begins to happen. I’ve seen it in older adults, writing seriously for the first time in their lives; I’ve seen it in teens under court supervision. I’ve seen it in myself. I believe everyone who wants to write can learn to write. I believe everyone has a story to tell. I also believe it’s easy to frighten a fledgling writer. When I teach, I do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want my students to discover that they really do have something to say and a voice, uniquely theirs, with which to say it.
Writer(s) I always return to: Anne Lamott. Gloria Steinem. The poetry of Rumi, Denise Levertov and Kathleen Flenniken (especially Plume). Two memoirs by famous novelists: Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, and one by a poet: Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Favorite writing advice: From Brenda Uelland's Me: a Memoir: “Whenever people write from their true selves (not from their bogus literary selves) it is interesting and one is pulled along into it; and it does me good to read it, and it does them good to write it; it makes them freer and bolder in every way.”