Course Structure & Goals
Our course is based on the premise that all adults, no matter our age, can continue to learn and grow. The goal of each course is to complete one essay of approximately 1,500 words. These may be one-off, stand-alone pieces or part of a longer memoir the student is crafting over many months or years. Each course is comprised of six to eight class meetings. Each class meeting includes these key elements:
- Warm-ups -- Simple writing exercises or fun ice-breaker games.
- Instruction -- Roughly 30 minutes of each 2-hour class is devoted to formal instruction and skills practice. We study exemplar texts to see how noted contemporary memoirists craft their work. And we focus on specific tasks to author a successful memoir: drafting a narrative; crafting sensory description; writing dialogue; creating authentic characters; building dramatic tension; using a thesaurus; and writing similes and metaphors.
- Writing (in-person only) -- For in-person classes, students spend at least 60 minutes of each meeting on the task of writing. Students may work at a table, one of several; at a kitchen counter; on a couch; or at a desk. If the weather is fair, students may also sit beside the Sawkill Creek in a comfortable Adirondack chair. Get comfortable, engage and write!
- Sharing and Feedback -- We share out our writings in a structured and supportive feedback setting with clear "rules." We offer commentary on details we enjoyed in each student's work and ask questions we have to invite every author to build their writings further.
- Expert Consultation (in-person only) -- During writing time, Emily is available to meet with students for coaching and directed feedback. By request, Emily will also copy-edit each student's memoir.