This past week I participated in a writing workshop titled “Nonfiction and the Archeology of Memory,” taught by Joni Tevis. Joni’s website, http://www.jonitevis.com/
Joni’s class was a perfect fit for the project I am working on, reconstructing our family’s past from the wealth of primary documents I have. The biggest takeaway was when Joni told me, “Claim the authority over the material and your telling of it. You are the narrator, and you are the expert on this particular slice of history: your life, and your mother’s impact on you.”
I already have hundreds of pages written, reconstructing the history so I have a very firm grounding in the story. Now I must search for the deeper meaning of how my mother’s early life came to impact my siblings and me.
Ron Carlson was the Distinguished Visiting Writer. My main takeaway from his talks was the importance of discipline in writing. Google and Email is the writer’s enemy as they attempt to lure one away from the screen. “Ron Carlson Writes a Story” is a succinct guide on discipline as one writes the first rough draft. At the end of the writing hours each day is the time to do Google research and check the email.
Our class–Joni in the middle with red shoes. Note the monitor on the desk to the left: “Catherine from Wisconsin” could not travel to Bemidji State University so she participated via computer.