Jessica Handler is one of the only authors we know who can make you laugh and cry with the same sentence. – Charis Books & More, the nation’s oldest independent feminist bookstore, Atlanta, GA
“Masterful!” – Bess K.
“Damn excellent!” – Melanie G.
“A wonderful non-judgmental atmosphere.” – Phoenixsong S.
“The workshop helped confirm my story is worthy of sharing with others.” – Catherine C.
“Gets to the core of memoir writing.” – Ron J.
“Motivated me!” – Katharina M.
Interested in booking me for a writers’ workshop or a speaking engagement? I’m available for in-person visits as well as by Skype! Email me. I love book clubs, too!
To see a current list of all my speaking engagements, visit the Appearances page.
I teach relaxed, friendly, workshops focused on the craft of writing well about grief and trauma. Beginners encouraged! I can customize each workshop to the group’s needs. Here are some of the workshops I can facilitate:
The Self on the Page:
We write memoir because we’re curious – about ourselves, our pasts, and how we fit into the world (and how the world fits us!) And sometimes we have something curious to say, and aren’t sure how to get started. This six week workshop will give participants the opportunity to develop or polish their memoir in progress through weekly craft talks, writing exercises, and guided discussions of your own and your workshop peers’ writing in a supportive, technique-focused, and casual environment. Enrollment is limited. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Writing With Scissors: A Workshop in the Art of Revision
Revision is a process. Some writers love it, others dread it, but every working writer knows they have to do it. With the right tools (yes, a pair of scissors) and a flair for risk (okay, just a little) a writer can make the revision process new and rewarding.
This workshop will meet for four sessions, and involve generative prompts, take home reading, and hands-on destruction and recreation of your own written work. Open to writers of all levels and all genres.
Writing the Tough Stuff
Everyone experiences personal difficulty at some point in their lives. We may find that we want to write about loss, grief, or trauma with the notion that getting it down on paper will be cathartic. This lecture will present strategies for strong literary writing, and discuss cross-disciplinary research in creating trauma narratives. Participants will leave with take-home generative writing exercises.
Looking Back, Moving Forward
A well-written memoir about grief or loss demonstrates that the writer has moved forward enough to look back. But how does a writer’s “back” shape his or her “forward?” If we intend to write well about our loss, ‘looking back’ on positive and negative experiences involves more than just capturing slippery memory on the page. Looking back creates forward motion in the story. In this workshop, participants will discuss examples from classic memoir, and generate new material from writing prompts generated by the workshop. Participants will receive a reading list for further exploration and take-home prompts.
Creating Powerful Prose After Grief or Trauma
Robert Frost wrote “no tears for the writer, no tears for the reader,” but what are a prose writers’ tools for bringing emotionally difficult material to the page and moving through trauma to create powerful work? In the first half of this day-long workshop, we will examine leading examples of grief writing and undertake writing exercises to learn ways to confront tears, find joy, and meet on the page the little known continuation of Frost’s quote: “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”
In the second half, we will convene for a facilitated, craft-focused discussion of our writing. Participants will gain strategies for writing about trauma in pursuit of insight, a sense of wholeness, and connection to readers. Open to writers at all levels, in all genres. (Please submit three to five pages of fiction or nonfiction prose in advance of the group meeting.)
Research Materials You Didn’t Know You Had
Some of the most powerful, effective research tools for fiction and nonfiction aren’t found in libraries, historical societies, or on the Web, but in our daily lives. This workshop will lead writers of all levels and genres through techniques for building scene and characters using informal research material we can find in our attics and junk drawers, including yearbooks, family recipes, and casual hometown field trips. We will read examples from prominent memoirs, and lead a discussion about methods for organizing, understanding, and examining research you can easily find in your own lives.
There’s More Than “Me” in Memoir
A good memoir tells your story, but in order to capture your reader’s heart and imagination, the very best memoirs place the author’s personal story within the beauty and tragedy of the larger world. In this workshop, you will learn ways to develop your memoir so that it resonates not only with you and yours, but with readers everywhere. Open to writers of all levels.