Get Over Yourself! Memoir Made Universal

Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 11:00 AM until Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 01:00 PM

Sarah Lawrence College
1 Mead Way
Bronxville, NY 10708
United States

Instructor: Sarah Saffian
Length: 5 sessions, $450
Saturdays, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Crucial rule of thumb for memoirists: Profound and meaningful to you doesn’t automatically mean profound and meaningful to others—it’s not the whole lump of clay but the sculpture that you create with it that is potentially compelling. Part workshop, part seminar, this course is organized tasting-menu-with-wine-pairing style: Each meeting we’ll get a prompt for a short personal piece to write—experimenting with memory-mining, perspective, and voice. We’ll also look at a published piece of writing to energize and inspire us—by Augusten Burroughs, Lucy Grealy, Dani Shapiro, and others. The following week, we’ll share and workshop our pieces on the spot, discuss the reading and examine such concepts as subjectivity/multiple “truths,” the politics of writing about loved ones, and the distinction between free-form journal writing and crafted storytelling, and then move on to the next pairing. I’ll offer comprehensive written feedback on some of the pieces, with suggestions for revision and expansion. The goals here are to take creative risks, to write precisely and originally in order to make our stories come alive on the page—even just one page—and, as ever, to get over ourselves.

Sarah Saffian (MFA, Columbia) is the author of Ithaka, her memoir of being an adoptee who was found by her birth family. She teaches memoir at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and works individually as a writing coach. Formerly a journalism professor at NYU and the New School, Sarah has written for publications including The New York Times, Smithsonian, and Yoga Journal, and has been a writer-in-residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Millay Colony. Also a therapist (LMSW, NYU), Sarah counsels individuals and groups with empathy, clarity, and humor, and blends her areas of interest and expertise in creating the Therapeutic Writing technique, using memoir prompts as a tool for encouraging reflection and self-discovery. Do come visit:

Writing Institute Registration Process:

Step 1 - Registration Information: Complete this registration form in full.

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Step 3 - Confirmation: Once we receive your payment, your registration will be finalized and confirmed with an email. Please keep this email for your records.  Details about room assignment, parking, and any other information relevant to the course will be emailed to registered students the week before classes begin.

If you have questions about the registration process, please call us at 914-395-2205 or email

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