Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Memoir Club: August Memoir Writing Masterclass with Barbara Brooks & Alison Lyssa

Tuesday, 26 August 2014, 6.00 - 9.00 PM

The Randwick Literary Institute,
60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031

Our next Memoir Club meeting is an opportunity to fire your writerly imagination and  garner crafty writing advice from two popular, highly regarded and extremely experienced writers and teachers of creative writing.
Photo from
The Masterclass will focus on strategies, ideas and techniques to aid your writing project. Part of the evening will be a conversation between Barbara and Alison on the scope memoir offers for you to explore your story and your role as the ‘eye’ of that story – the ‘eye’ that is at once participant, narrator and interpreter of the thought, feeling and experience that your story illuminates.

Given memoir’s brilliant power of bricolage and its freedom to borrow from fiction, poetry and drama, we’ll be discussing such techniques as: the vivid depiction of place and people; the creation of scenes; and the writing of dialogue. And, there’s memoir’s power to use language: its clarity, its rhythms and its delight in metaphor. Important too – well, actually, crucial – is your participation. Your questions and input will be welcomed.
For part of the evening we will divide into two groups for writing exercises and discussion. For the writing exercises please bring:

Writing materials and your sense of adventure; and,
An object or photograph that connects you with a theme, person or place vital to your writing project.


Barbara Brooks
is a writer and teacher of writing. She has taught at the University of Technology, Sydney and other universities, and runs her own BB Writinglife Masterclasses in memoir & fiction She has published a collection of short stories, Leaving Queensland, and a biography, Eleanor Dark: a writer’s life. Her latest work, Verandahs, is a memoir that crosses into fiction. Extracts have been published in magazines and anthologies. See

Alison Lyssa
is a playwright editor and writing mentor. She has published plays, poetry, short fiction and essays. She has mentored documentary film-makers at AFTRS, run community theatre projects in Western Sydney, and taught Writing for Performance and Creative Writing at UTS, UWS and Macquarie University. She recently gained a doctorate in creative writing with a new play, Hurricane Eye: A Masque for the Twenty-first Century.  Her play, Pinball, first performed at Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre in 1981, was revived for this year’s Mardi Gras, to acclaim.

When: last Tuesday of every month (30 Sept, 25 Oct etc.)

Time: 6.00 - 9.00 PM (come for a cuppa and help us set up at 5.30 PM - please remember to bring your own cup!)

Where: The Randwick Literary Institute, 60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031. Tel: 02-9398 5203 (for directions and venue info). Street parking available. Clovelly bus 339 on the doorstep. For how to get there, see:

What: A communal space to meet other writers and readers and converse about all things to do with reading and writing memoir. We are interested in all kinds of life stories and in different ways of telling them. The genre of life writing and the possibilities of expanding and reworking the genre is exciting to us. Therefore we have a somewhat open and inclusive approach to what makes a memoir, and we hope you do too! Here is a space to connect with others and share ideas, questions and just hang out. Each meeting will start off with a talk, conversation or discussion about a particular topic or book, sometimes with a guest speaker or facilitator, then we move to an informal gathering and catch up.

Donation: This month for the Memoir Writing Masterclass only: $20 at the door for hall hire, refreshments and speakers/ teachers.

Food: $15 for a plate of delicious vegetarian finger food (different each meeting). Ring or text to book a plate: 0450 907 422.

Future Speakers: Ross Gibson (Sept), Memoir Club Members Night (Oct).

Look forward to seeing you there! Please do pass information on to anyone who might be interested in this community gathering.

mem·oir /ˈmemˌwär/
Noun. A historical account or biography written from personal knowledge. An autobiography or a written account of one's memory of certain events or people.

“A memoir is a work of sustained narrative prose controlled by the idea of the self under obligation to lift from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver wisdom. Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events, it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense the writer is able to make of what happened. For that the power of a writing imagination is required.”                                                                                                                                      —Vivian Gornick

“I don’t know where the idea originated that memoir writing is cathartic. For me, it’s always felt like playing my own neurosurgeon, sans anesthesia. As a memoirist, you have to crack your head open and examine every uncomfortable thing in there."
                                                                                                                                     —Koren Zailckas

“Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is."
                                                                                                                —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

PLACES STILL AVAILABLE: Inviting the Muse: Creativity and Craft for Writers course at the NSW Writers Centre, starting 24 August 2014

“In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We’ve got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish—an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realise that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem.”
                                                               —Julia Cameron

How do we nourish our inner wells of creativity amid busy and demanding lives? Do we have a story to tell, a novel, travel narrative or memoir that we're supposedly writing, but find ourselves constantly stalled? How do we keep the creative juices flowing?  

Over four Sunday mornings, author and creative writing teacher Beth Yahp shares practical, inspiring and fun ways to re-energise our creative selves—to invite the Muse back into our daily lives. The emphasis is on beginning a creative writing practice in order to keep your artistic reservoir well-stocked, whether you’re beginning a new writing project or looking to nourish an existing one on its journey towards completion.

As well as tending to creativity (making room for the Muse), this course for beginners and the more advanced also focuses on writing craft skills: using language effectively to “make things new”, creating believable characters, bringing places to life for the reader, and mapping our stories on the page. There will be in-class writing exercises, readings and discussion of students’ work.

As Helen Garner writes: “Curiosity is a muscle. Patience is a muscle. What begins as a necessary exercise gradually becomes natural. And then immense landscapes open up in front of you.” This course is for those who want to explore their creativity while honing their writing craft; to access and explore the “immense landscapes” of a more creative writing life.

Inviting the Muse: Creativity for Writers

To book: Online: or ring: (02) 9555 9757

When: 4 x Sunday mornings: 24, 31 August; 7 14 September, 10am-1pm

Cost: Full price: $440; Member: $310; Conc Member: $265
This course is for people who are interested in writing fiction, travel or life stories. It is for those who have a story to tell and have been wondering how to get that story going—to access the creative energy and writing craft practices that bring stories alive on the page. The course imparts ways to entice creativity back into our writing and daily lives, through a combination of short presentations, discussion of selected readings, writing exercises and workshopping to explore new ways of seeing and ‘making things new’ as writers. We explore meditation techniques, drama and drawing to access the parts of us where the muse lives.

Course Breakdown

Class 1: Inviting the Muse
  * The Child and the Critic in balance
  * Learning to play again; learning to ‘waste time’; learning to listen

Class 2: Translating the World to the Page
  * It’s All About Words: Curiosity, Vulnerability, Vocabulary
  * Creative Sources: Leap and the net will appear; the writer’s journal; memory

Class 3: Accessing Inner Lives
  * The Inner Lives of Characters
  *  The Secret Lives of Stories

Class 4: Creative Mapping of Places and Journeys
  * Mapping a place; mapping a journey
  * Which story do I tell, and how do I shape it?

Food: Tea and coffee making facilities will be provided. Course participants are advised to bring their own lunch as there are no cafes within easy walking distance.

Student Requirements: Pen and paper.