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Joyce Maynard

Creating Emotion and Meaning in Personal Narratives


(This workshop is closed)

This workshop will focus on short-form personal storytelling (think: the New York Times column Modern Love). Beginning by examining the raw material of our experiences, we will explore the difference between simply reporting what happened and creating a story arc for readers and listeners that lets us uncover not only what happened, but what it meant.

We will explore issues of craft, as well as emotion, with a study of structure, descriptive language, point of view, dialogue, voice, stakes, point of entry, and landing place. Additionally, we will examine a writer’s personal responsibility when telling stories from his or her own life, and look at how to establish a daily writing practice. Each writer will be asked to create a 1,700-word essay to be discussed in the workshop.


  • This is a mixed level workshop.
  • Please submit a cover letter that states your interest in this workshop and gives an overview of your writing background and prior workshop experience, if any.
  • The cost is $600. If you are selected to participate in the workshop, a deposit of $200 is required to register, with the balance due by September 30.
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full.

Financial Assistance is available to those who would not otherwise be able to attend—click here for guidelines and application.


Joyce Maynard has been a writer of memoir and personal narrative, as well as fiction, for more than four decades, having published (and occasionally performed) her stories in the New York Times Modern Love column, on the the Moth stage and NPR. For eight years, she wrote the syndicated newspaper column Domestic Affairs.

Her first memoir, At Home in the World, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into seventeen languages. A second memoir, The Best of Us, was published in 2017.  Founder of the Lake Atitlán memoir workshop, now in its 20th year, she names her work as a teacher of personal narrative as among the most rewarding aspects of her professional life.