Poet and fiction writer David Huddle trusts in the power of memory. While some writers warn us to avoid the thinly disguised autobiographical story or the confessional poem, Huddle encourages us to shape the events that shaped us. In The Writing Habit, Huddle observes: “If carving stone is more difficult than molding clay, then chipping something that really happened into a usable shape for a short story must be at least as much of an accomplishment as making something up.” I have found, as Huddle has, that by recalling the details of my own life, I get closer to the bones of a short story that is not about me.
This week, we will start with mining our pasts, with the help of Huddle’s “Questionnaire for an Autobiographical Portrait.” Then, we will move from “what happened” to “what if.” Often, it takes the perfect lie to get at the perfect truth. While a portion of each day will be devoted to discussion and close reading, most of our workshop will revolve around your own writing. Feel free to bring journal entries, artifacts, or your own stories (up to 12 double-spaced pages), and to share fresh material produced throughout the week. Writers at any level of experience are very welcome.
Cecile Goding (M.F.A., University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; M.F.A., University of Iowa Program in Nonfiction Writing) comes from Florence, South Carolina where, in her late thirties, she took creative writing courses at her local university. She has worked for adult literacy nonprofits, libraries, polyester mills, computer companies, neighborhood centers, and a Saudi Arabian prince. Her poems, essays, and short fiction have appeared in newspapers, in literary journals, and around town. She encourages everyone to find one serious (but not too serious) writing partner and to buy from independent bookstores.