Memoirists and personal essayists, by definition, fashion their art from the rubble-field of their
memories and desires, their ghosts and guilts. But turning a life into a story is risky business. Your
secrets may be exposed, your friends and family embarrassed. Or maybe you’ll be accused of “navel
gazing,” mistakenly believing the world is waiting to read your diary. Either way, it seems, it’s a
disaster. This class will focus on how essayists and memoirs navigate these treacherous waters,
as well as how to avoid sounding narcissistic and how to turn ordinary interests and everyday
obsessions into stories worthy of a reader’s attention.
Students will submit 10-pages of original nonfiction material ahead of time. Manuscripts should be
typed, in 12-point font and double-spaced. The class will be conducted as a “workshop” in which the
class group will read and discuss each manuscript in a roundtable discussion.
David McGlynn is the author of One Day You’ll Thank Me: Lessons from an Unexpected Fatherhood,
published by Counterpoint Press in 2018. He’s also the author of the memoir, A Door in the Ocean, and the
story collection, The End of the Straight and Narrow. His writing has appeared in The New York Times,
Best American Sports Writing, O., The Oprah Magazine, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Parents, and many
other publications. He teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.