Writing Workshop

Your Life is a Story

With my writing workshops, I attempt to capture the every day, the ordinary, and turn it into prose poems. Flash is a minimalist form that can be applied to almost any genre. Whenever I recall a moment, a sudden memory, I jot it down into a flash memoir. Many of our best poets acted upon their own flashes, giving us verse that resonates even today. Often it is the simplest story that we come back to again and again. In my workshops, I encourage writers to discover and express their inner stories.

Every life has a beginning, middle, and end—in more ways than one your life resembles a story. This workshop is about capturing small moments, even the mundane, and distilling them down into words on paper. Combining the form of Flash with the genre of Memoir, Jane teaches what she calls Flash Memoir. Small glimpses into one’s life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when contemplating writing a whole life. Jane Hertenstein helps the writer take it in steps, in bite-size pieces.

Examples of authors successfully writing in this form are Booker Prize-nominated Deborah Levy, whose “living/working autobiographies” top many lists, and Sigrid Nunez, whose experimental “meta” novels blur fiction and autobiography. Historically authors such as Dickens and Twain built careers on writing “sketches.”

In this 2.5-hour session, Jane will take the group through a series of exercises to demonstrate how one builds upon these flashes in order to create a portfolio of life stories. Discussion includes the importance of writing every day, getting your work out there, how to submit it, and where.

This workshop can be adapted to one hour and 90-minutes classes and also customized for whatever the situation.

Perfect for churches, schools, senior centers, libraries, book clubs, and writing conferences.

Jane Hertenstein is the author of numerous stories both macro and micro: fiction, creative non-fiction, and blurred genre. She has also published a middle-grade novel, Cloud of Witnesses, and a YA novel, Beyond Paradise. Her non-fiction Orphan Girl was widely reviewed and featured in the Chicago Tribune Sunday Book Section. Her work has been recognized by the New York Times, nominated for a Pushcart, and earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train. She’s an alum of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference waitstaff, Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and the Amanda Davis Award, Wesleyan Writers’ Conference. Jane is the recipient of multiple grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the City of Chicago. Every year she rides her bike hundreds of miles and currently resides in the piney woods of Michigan. She teaches a workshop on Flash Memoir and can be found blogging at Memoirous.

Her life motto is Do Everything with your One Wild and Precious Life.

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