Isak Dinesen said, “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story.” Indeed, research shows that writing about emotional pain can have a positive effect on physical and psychological well being. Yet turning experience into a story that others may want to read involves much more than simply expressing yourself.
If you’re trying to write either fiction or memoir about your own trauma, loss, grief, or illness, you won’t want to miss this special half-day workshop facilitated by author and practicing psychotherapist Fran Dorf, who recently finished a memoir of her own.
Fran Dorf has a perspective that is both unique and instructive. She was already a two-time published novelist in 1994 when she suffered an unimaginable loss, the death of her three-year-old son, Michael. Paralyzed with sorrow, Fran refused to write a word for several years, but eventually turned her devastating grief into her acclaimed third novel, Saving Elijah (Putnam, 2000).
In the first part of workshop, basing a short talk on an essay published in a 2008 anthology, Fran will share her story. She will explain how a self-designed process of rigorous self-observation, distancing, and separation from her own pain allowed her to begin to apply the craft and art of writing to an unfiltered, raw, tortured journal of grief, and turn it into a novel that a starred Publisher’s Weekly review called “stunning and spellbinding,” and Glamour Magazine called, “fiercely compelling.”
During the second part of the workshop, Fran will present exercises that engage writers at the intersection of healing, art, and craft to help you create your own “fiercely compelling” work. These exercises are designed in part to help you get enough distance to make the hard choices about which elements of lived experience to include and how best to organize and express your material—genre, context, voice, setting, point of view, tone, and theme. As time and number of participants allows, you will also have a chance to share results of the exercises or read a few pages of a work in progress and get feedback.