So What's Your (Life) Story? Memoir in a Nutshell

Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 02:00 PM until Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 05:00 PM

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

Instructor: Sarah Saffian
Length: 2 sessions, $240
Saturday, April 1 and 8, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

In an effort to answer the cardinal question of memoir—who cares?—this intensive course zeroes in on what’s most compelling about our life stories. What about you is potentially interesting to others? What’s that inciting incident, organizing principle, heat-seeking moment, which could drive your memoir? We’ll spend the first class talking about how we all have many memoirs in us, but each needs to be a specific slice—the statue within the block of marble, the sculpture within the lump of clay, the story-within-the-story. What’s this particular memoir about? (“Me” or “My life” aren’t acceptable answers.) We’ll also do in-class exercises and read aloud and discuss excerpts from published works—by personal writers such as Jeannette Walls and Karen Schneider—to energize and inspire us. During the week, we’ll write our “life stories” in 500 words, to see what rises to the surface as crucial to include, allowing the narrower story to start to take shape. During the second class, we’ll share our pieces and workshop them on the spot.

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 an LMSW, Sarah incorporates creative writing in her work as a therapist, using it as a tool to help clients toward deeper reflection and self-discovery. Do come visit:

Writing Institute Registration Process:

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

Step 2 - Payment: Once you click submit on this form, a new page will appear in your browser with a payment link. Click on the payment link, complete the required information, and submit your payment. 

Payment is required for your registration to be confirmed. If we don’t receive your payment within 48 hours of submission of this form, your registration will automatically be cancelled. You will have to complete the form again if you wish to register for the class.

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

Registration is no longer available because the registration deadline has passed.