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by Writing Workshops Staff

7 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Advanced Memoir Draft Generator with Amanda Montei

by Writing Workshops Staff

7 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Advanced Memoir Draft Generator with Amanda Montei

by Writing Workshops Staff

7 months ago


We're super excited to introduce you to teaching artist Amanda Montei. If you're into creative nonfiction, you're in for a treat! Amanda is offering a brand new Advanced Memoir Draft Generator. Limited to just eight students, this class will provide writers the chance to make significant progress on their memoir draft in a supportive writing community. 

Amanda knows her stuff! She's got a book called Touched Out: Motherhood, Misogyny, Consent, and Control out with Beacon Press. Plus, she's written Two Memoirs and The Failure Age. Her writing has been featured in some pretty impressive places like Slate, The Believer, Vox, HuffPost, Rumpus, Salon, Ms. Magazine, and a bunch of other cool literary journals and scholarly publications.

Hi, Amanda. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

I'm a writer and critic with a PhD in modernist and contemporary feminist writing. I also have an MFA in writing. I've been teaching across genres for over ten years at the college level and for many different literary and arts organizations. My next book, TOUCHED OUT: MOTHERHOOD, MISOGYNY, CONSENT & CONTROL is forthcoming from Beacon Press in September. It's a memoir, but also theory and criticism. I also wrote a memoir in two voices about growing up in LA, called Two Memoirs (Jaded Ibis), and a little book of experimental prose, called The Failure Age (Bloof).

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft? Or is this just your jam and you love it?

This class replicates in some ways what you get in an MFA program— a tight-knit, intimate community working on projects they've spent some time conceptualizing and starting either on their own, or in other classes. It's designed for students who can't commit to or can't afford a full MFA, but who want accountability, connection, feedback, and support. It also offers more than a memoir class or workshop, in that you get extra one-on-one meetings and mentoring with me, the instructor. I think it's really important for writers at later stages in their books to have someone they can turn to when panic or big questions set in.

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

In the first two weeks of class, we'll write together, get to know each other's book projects, and discuss craft concerns specific to each student's project.

Writers will then participate in workshops, during which they will receive extensive feedback on their work from fellow writers and the instructor. Writers should expect to receive feedback on about 100 pages of their manuscripts. We'll talk about how each writer's work moves, and talk about elements like voice, style, and approach to genre. My workshops are writer-centered, so writers won't be silenced or subjected to "objective" craft discussions. Instead, we'll discuss your project with you, with the aim of supporting each writer as they finish their manuscript draft.

Students will also have the opportunity to meet with me one-on-one before and after their two workshops. I'm looking forward to these meetings because in larger workshops we don't get much time to strategize submission, discuss how to apply peer feedback, or check in about the writer's progress. This is our chance to talk about what to do with the information we gather in workshops. Writers will also have the opportunity to meet with me at the end of class to discuss questions about publishing and next steps for their book.

What was your first literary crush?

Oh gosh, honestly, probably like JD Salinger? I read a lot of white male voices for years because I was convinced those were the only voices that mattered. Eventually, I had a literary awakening.

What are you currently reading?

Jane Wong's Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City.

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

This is such a good question, and so hard to answer. I have two projects, one fiction and one nonfiction, on the horizon. Since I have a book coming out, that has been all-consuming, and it's thrilling (and terrifying) to start something new. Both of these projects have been books I've thought about for a long time. There's is a ton of thinking off the page that has to happen around any book, and I think I've been thinking about these books for a few years at least. One project evolved out of research I did for my PhD. Another is rooted in a weird historical obsession I've developed. I think most books start that way: with something you just can't stop thinking about.

Where do you find inspiration?

Definitely in other writers.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

Maggie Nelson, a mentor of mine, said to follow your obsessions. I've never forgotten that advice.

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

I rarely recommend craft books! I think it's much more useful for writers to read in their genre, talk with fellow writers, and develop their own sense of craft.

Melissa Febos' Body Work is one exception to that rule. I love her essay on writing sex.

BONUS: Is there a question we should have asked you? If so, feel free to answer it here.

Maybe: "Can writing be taught?" I'd say no, but it can be discovered.

Learn More About Working with Amanda

You can learn more about Amanda's upcoming Advanced Memoir Draft Generator and apply now.

If you're ready to take your memoir to the next level, Amanda Montei is the person to guide you. Get ready to unlock the power of your own story under her expert guidance. It's gonna be amazing!

Instructor Amanda Montei is the author of Touched Out: Motherhood, Misogyny, Consent, and Control, forthcoming from Beacon Press in 2023, and Two Memoirs (Jaded Ibis Press) and The Failure Age (Bloof Books). She holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a PhD from the Poetics Program at SUNY Buffalo. Her poetry, fiction, essays, and criticism have appeared in Slate, The Believer, Vox, HuffPost, Rumpus, Salon, Ms. Magazine, as well as numerous literary journals and scholarly publications. She has been teaching writing for over a decade at the college level and in community arts programs. For three years, she was editor of the literary journal P-QUEUE, and she previously co-edited the small press project Bon Aire Projects. Amanda lives in California with her partner and two children. Visit her website here.

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