When I tell people I’m writing a memoir, they usually appear surprised and ask: “Aren’t you too young?”
In 2013, I began writing “Freeligious,” a memoir and narrative nonfiction about my detachment from a charismatic religious sect and community. As a former evangelical, my gradual transition from the Pentecostal community spanned 10 years. The book focuses on identity, power and society with the aim of empowering those who have left — or who want to leave — their religious systems. Since then, I’ve taken a memoir writing course in Seattle, joined a writing group and received attention from media outlets such as Fox News Radio. Around 200 pages later, I realized I still needed help organizing my book.
I decided to take a memoir writing class with instructor and author Paul Collins in PSU’s English Department this winter term. The course has been extremely helpful in not only focusing on creating new content, but organizing my existing work. While the workshops (each student and the instructor reviews the student’s work and provides open feedback) initially can be an uneasy experience, they have certainly been most useful. As a Ph.D. Sociology student, being the only non-MFA student in the course has also helped me learn from others’ writing skills and expertise.
Although some find it unexpected that I’m writing a memoir at a “young age” or while pursuing a doctoral degree in the social sciences, I believe following more than one passion or goal can be most satisfying in life.
If you’re interested in taking a course in PSU’s English Department, visit: http://www.pdx.edu/english/
Are there any budding writers out there? Students who really feels they have something to say or simply like to give their opinions–maybe a restaurant, a favorite punk band, or perhaps a book or author?
There is a class being taught at PSU that may be right for you. WR 458, Magazine Writing, taught by Prof. Paul Collins. I am taking this class right now and I find it very interesting and useful…for if you follow the class closely, listen to an expert on the subject, you could in time have your own magazine articles published…AND be paid to do so. Read more
Emotionally drained, in a good way.
This is not a frequent experience for me in college. Sometimes classes can be appreciated, in a distant, intellectual kind of way. Sometimes I am moved to laughter. But very rarely do I experience the higher and more vulnerable emotions in a classroom: awe, or even tears. I just got out of dramatic reading day in Susan Reese’s Writing from the Earth Class, where we all read our essays out loud.
Think This American Life, except it’s from your peers who are going through the same struggles as you. I was so blown away by the depth and talent of some of my peers, and I do not often give out compliments. A few students had to pause while they were reading to let their shaky voices settle down. I would pay money and consider it a good Saturday night to hear storytelling like that.
Topics ranged from frustrated love and female circumcision in Africa to growing up and finding yourself. Anyway, if you are in the mood for some touchy-feely stuff, as I secretly am sometimes, then take a personal essay class. I’ve experienced a lot of college, and yesterday’s class was one of the most memorable ones I’ve ever had.