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A Winter Writing Programme in Wellington, 2014

Dame Fiona Kidman will conduct her writing course over six Saturdays from June to August 2014. There is special emphasis on life writing and memoir.

With guest speakers: Harry Ricketts, poet and internationally acclaimed biographer of Rudyard Kipling (The Unforgiving Minute); Mary McCallum, poet, children’s writer, publisher and author of best-selling and award-winning novel The Blue; Julia Millen, historian, biographer and fiction writer, who will discuss how to use research facilities, Peter Farrell, author of the poignant and highly successful memoir The Lie That Settles, talking about the book and how he self-published it, and Anne Else, social historian and food blogger, whose food memoir The Colour of Food  has been an Amazon e-book bestseller since publication in 2013.

This life writing course is for those who want to record their own stories, or those of others, whether as personal record, a history to leave for family, or for potential publication. It is not confined to older people. Young people have histories too, and a memoir might be of a specific time or subject e.g. travel, food writing, gardening or sporting experience.

Participants don’t need previous writing experience, but reasonable literacy skills and an interest in reading would be useful starting points. You will be encouraged to explore the past in a constructive and creative way. In order to construct an absorbing narrative, some basic fiction writing craft will be introduced. The course will provide a safe, supportive environment to explore life stories. Online support will be available to those working on extended projects.

Some reading recommendations will be offered in advance of the course. They are not essential but can serve as a useful introduction to the process of life writing.  For those who would like to begin now, the works of the guest tutors would be a good place to start. Also, Lloyd Jones’ A History of Silence is highly recommended. The film, Stories We Tell, by the Canadian film maker Sarah Polley is a great way to look at family interviewing strategies, and building a life story. Try and see it if it’s on at theatre near you.

Dates: 7 June, 21 June, 5 July, 19 July, 2 August, 16 August (all Saturdays). Each course day runs from 9.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m

Venue: Upstairs at the historic Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon, opposite the Wellington Railway Station. There is free parking available outside on Saturdays (2 hours only) and paid parking directly opposite. The seminar room is upstairs and we regret that there is no disabled access.

Catering: Morning and afternoon teas will be supplied. Lunches are available in the bar (optional, bring your own lunch if you prefer)

Fee: $895 (covers catered morning and afternoon teas, guest tutors, room charges) GST incl.

Application Form: You can download the Application Form (doc) and send it by email to fiona@fionakidman.co.nz

Frequently asked question: ‘Is it worth coming if I have to miss a session?’ Generally, the answer is yes. It is a little harder for those who can’t make the first session but I am happy to give a one-to-one session at no extra charge at a time that is mutually convenient. As the course progresses, fellow participants usually offer to share their notes if a session is missed.