Writing the Spiritual Memoir

Instructor:  Thomas Larson
Date: Saturday, June 29
Time: 10 a.m-4 p.m. (includes break for lunch – Sack lunch preferred)
Location: IWC
Cost: $150 nonmembers, $96 members, $84 student members/teacher members/senior members/military members/librarian members

Join visiting writer Thomas Larson, author of Spirituality and the Writer, for an all-day workshop on writing spiritually at the Indiana Writers Center. We begin by discussing, with examples, the differences between religious autobiography and spiritual memoir. Though these forms may overlap, our focus is on exploring personal questions about our lives’ purpose, mystery, and inner experience via the craft of nonfiction narrative.

After we find and narrow our topics, we’ll move past mere belief and work on bringing concrete expression to our writing, emphasizing such elements as metaphor, scene, telling details, exposition, and earning a reader’s trust. We will, if time permits, examine the ups and downs of our individual faith, lost faith, and doubt. Why are spiritual experiences so hard to verify to readers? The goal of the workshop is to make better sense of personal experiences, which are transcendent and evanescent, numinous and deeply felt, and often, as the poet Billy Collins says, “resist verbal description.”

Journalist, book/music critic, and memoirist Thomas Larson is the author of Spirituality and the Writer: A Personal Inquiry (Swallow Press). He has also written The Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease (Hudson Whitman), The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ (Pegasus Press), and The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative

(Swallow Press). He is a twenty-year staff writer for the San Diego Reader, a six-year book review editor for River Teeth, and a former music critic for the Santa Fe New Mexican. My website is www.thomaslarson.com

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