Starting Monday 16 August until 4 October 2021
Currently we are living through uncharted times where the familiar patterns of our known existence have been disrupted by a global pandemic. Writing memoir through uncertain times can be an engrossing and ultimately grounding activity. This course offers a reflective space to investigate and preserve your memories through writing retrospectively about your life. As you gather together the various threads of your life experience and begin to make meaning of your material you realise its value and importance. There is no better time to summon your courage and commit to writing the story of your life.
This course is designed for people who yearn to write a record of their life. It is for those who have never written and for those who enjoy writing in other genres but haven’t yet tried memoir. Under Deborah’s guidance, and in a mutually supportive environment, this eight-week course offers the essential structure, method and themes to help you strengthen your writing voice and begin to realise your memoir writing goals.
Author Dr Deborah Shepard is an experienced memoir tutor, writing mentor and biographer. Her books include: The Writing Life: Twelve New Zealand Authors, Her Life’s Work, Between the Lives: Partners in Art and Reframing Women: a history of New Zealand film. Over eight sessions she will introduce you to the pleasures of writing memoir, to the history of the genre and inspiring samples of work by memoirists such as: Janet Frame, Janice Galloway, Charlotte Grimshaw, Fiona Kidman, Blake Morrison, Peter Wells, Jeanette Winterson, Tim Winton. Working on your own and as a group, sharing the writing as you go, you will complete a collection of memoir pieces and portraits that will supply the structure upon which to develop your memoir. Each participant receives an individual mentoring session with Deborah and an opportunity to publish on her ‘Writers’ Stories’ forum at https://www.deborahshepardbooks.com/writers-stories
What people say about Deborah’s memoir courses
I came away with a lot of confidence that I had something to say and that I could say it well
— Terry Levenberg
Over the five sessions I found my “creative writing voice” as an apprentice, in a safe and supportive environment and through a superbly designed course. As a small group of diverse writers, we were expertly guided by the wise and gentle Deborah, who is an outstanding teacher
— Maria Kazmierov
Recent feedback on Journalling in Extraordinary Times at the Devonport Library
Through journal writing with Deborah I found my writing voice which helps me live with ease and authenticity every day.
— Catherine Moorhead
My appreciation of journalling as an art was deepened through Deborah's bibliography bringing together writers of different writing styles, backgrounds, countries and historical periods.
— Sylvia Nagl
Journals are magic portals to finding beauty and sense in the every day and Deborah showed us how to find the key.
— Jicca Smith
Deborah provided a safe, welcoming and skilled approach to journal writing, which enabled group members to find their voice and delight in writing.
— Sally Monks
When: 16 August — 4 October 2021
Number of sessions: Eight sessions Mondays 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Where: Devonport Library
Course fee: $280
Contact Deborah: Via my Contact Page
Everybody has the skills to write their life story. Life Writing with Deborah Shepard is designed for people who have never written before and participants who already enjoy writing in other genres and want to try memoir.
Under Deborah’s gentle guidance you will experience a late Spring life writing workshop like no other. You will have five blissful days to indulge your dream and write your heart out in a collaborative and supportive environment.
WHEN: 5 mornings, Monday 17 - Friday 21 July, 9:30am - 1:00pm
WHERE: The University of Auckland, Building No. 810, 1-11 Short Street, City Campus
COST: $285.00 incl. GST
Limited to 10 participants
Deborah is facilitating a memoir writing workshop, 'Right from the Heart,' on the theme of resilience and surviving a crisis.
Devonport Library, Sunday 4 March, 6.00 - 9.00pm.
Monday - Friday, 9 - 13 July, 11.15am - 3.15pm.
Deborah will be teaching The Best of Life Writing, which offers a selection of favourite and proven writing exercises and discussion topics along with some new themes and challenges. It is suitable for newcomers and returning life writers keen to maintain the momentum. Join us and luxuriate in a full week of life writing.
This workshop is one of four workshops in the 2012 Writers Week programme. Your workshop registration fee also includes attendance at the guest lectures which take place each morning from 10 - 11am. The final afternoon concludes with refreshments and readings of work produced during the week.
Click here to register.
The Art and Craft of Memoir
The Creative Hub, 27 March - 15 May 2012, 6.00pm - 8.30pm
If you have ever been tempted by the idea of writing your memoir but not known where to begin, this course will provide the confidence and skills to help access your creativity and writing talent. Through writing exercises, group discussion and critical analysis of the best of autobiographical literature you will learn how to craft and structure your story into a compelling narrative.
Over eight weeks and during two-and-a-half-hour sessions we’ll cover the following topics: defining memoir and memoir form, constructing timelines, establishing a place to write and a writing practice, storytelling style and developing your unique voice, how to sustain momentum and maintain reader interest, structure and thematic development, self-editing, tips on preparing a story for online publication and the ethics of writing about significant others. Through writing exercises, participants will explore and reflect upon remembering childhood, riding the teenage years, becoming a grownup, working life, the meaning of home and community, surviving a crisis, a special person and a self-portrait.
Deborah’s courses are nourishing and rewarding and participants derive pleasure from sharing their stories with fellow writers within a supportive and friendly environment. Come along in a spirit of curiosity, ready to enjoy the experience of delving into your memories and making meaning of the twists and turns of your life journey.
Memoir classes for Year 12 students: English Language week
Senior College 5 - 8 July 2011
Life Writing courses provide participants with the tools to discover their individual writing strengths and begin the delicious process of constructing a memoir. These courses also draw together a group of like-minded people, united in a common goal, to record their life experience and share their stories. Following each course, participants establish their own writing groups and meet monthly to continue the writing projects and provide friendship and support. There are now a number of life writing communities dotted around Auckland City and the stories are flowing and leading to publication and further education. One student has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington.
The first writing group was established following Deborah’s inaugural life writing course in 2006. A vigorous and tight knit group they are committed to writing and publishing their work. One writer, Colin Radford, has published his memoir and there are more in the pipeline. Elizabeth McCrae wrote a wonderfully reflective essay on ageing, drawing on memories from throughout her life, in “Return to Sender,“ published in Loving All of It (2010).
Between 2008 and 2010 Colin Radford, worked with Deborah as editor, and later Jocelyn Watkin as self-publishing consultant and finally with Ocean Reeve at PublishMe, to produce his memoir The Boy from Mokau River. The book has sold well in Taranaki and is now in its third printing. Colin remarks, ‘I think you could say it has been a regional success.’
Colin’s story spans eighty years beginning with an untroubled and serene childhood in a beautiful natural setting by the Mokau River in the Waikato region bordering Taranaki, where the only access to and from the outside world was on a launch, The Cygnet. The book was released in Auckland and then at Colin’s invitation, Deborah and members of his life writing group accompanied him to Mokau township for the second launch. The highlight of the weekend was a trip, up the Mokau River on the The Cygnet, to visit the site of Colin’s childhood home.
On docking at the site of the old wharf we had to fight our way through a thick tangle of thicket up towards the house site. The home is no longer standing but on the terrace, where it once nestled, we found evidence of its former existence in worn, terracotta bricks and a clump of snowdrops just pushing through. This is how Colin described his home in the memoir:
From the river… the house could be glimpsed nestling among fruit trees, a large, lone blue gum and a variety of native trees. To reach the house from the wharf you walked across the flat, climbed the stile over the fence and ascended a ponga-stepped pathway to the house. On both sides of the path there were flowerbeds of hollyhocks, cosmos, hydrangeas, sweet williams, pansies and the humble forget-me-not. On the right side of the house amongst an area of scythe-controlled prairie grass there was a clothesline and a huge old rimu stump covered by a vast Dorothy Perkins rambling rose... To the left of the house by the wood heap, where firewood was stored and chopped, there was a large vegetable garden surrounded by more fruit trees… The house built in 1919-1920 with meagre resources had a corrugated iron roof and corrugated iron walls. It was basic but extremely functional. The front verandah provided a view of the river and was a suntrap for the afternoon sunshine.
When everyone was gathered at the site Colin asked for a moment’s stillness to ‘listen to the silence.’ We stopped. We felt the air moving softly. We heard the distant baaing of sheep, the calling of birds and the shudder of heron wings in flight. Did we hear the ghosts of children playing, spades tilling the soil, a young Colin whistling on his way to feed the dogs and shut up the hens for the night? As we stood quietly, I became aware of each individual taking the time to feel Colin’s world. I marvelled at how an otherwise dispirit group had been brought together through a love of writing and a friendship with a remarkable man who at the age of eighty had the energy and persuasive skills to take us on his journey. An interest in writing can open up a world of possibilities...