Three years ago, I signed up for one of Gotham’s free one-hour Memoir Writing classes. Surrounded by other (more passionate) aspiring writers, I positioned myself directly across from the instructor, waiting to be enlightened. The instructor described writing as a difficult but rewarding job where, as author, I could construct my own story. I signed up to take Memoir I with Marie Carter that evening.
In Marie’s classes, there were lessons about structure, voice, scene, and character, but what I learned from most was the Booth session every class. As an avid reader, I think I know good writing when I read it. What I didn’t know was how to write it. Reading and critiquing other people’s work and having classmates do the same for me, helped me to see what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, my teacher and classmates offered encouragement and constructive ideas on my writing.
The next session, I took Memoir II, and then I took it again, with mostly the same people. We got to know each other’s styles and voices and were able to provide more nuanced critiques because we had seen the development each individual writer made over the course of months. I began to see how a writer’s voice is constructed and developed because I could hear when word choice or sentence structure betrayed the writer’s voice as I had come to know it.
It was just over a year ago that I moved out of New York City, away from my Gotham classes. In my new city, I searched for a writers group because I now understand the importance of critique to the creative process. My group encouraged me to submit a few of the pieces I began working on while at Gotham, and I have just had my first piece published in Brain, Child magazine.
Without the encouragement and enthusiasm of Marie and the other writers in my classes, I am not sure that I would have had the confidence to submit my work for publication. Thank you for not only teaching the mechanics, but providing a safe and open place to practice the craft of writing.