“When an author’s memories of concrete details are sketchy or absent, the technique of perhapsing not only allows her to recreate the scene effectively, it also helps establish her as a reliable narrator.”
—Lisa Knopp ("Perhapsing: The Use of Speculation in Creative Nonfiction")
“The nonfictional nature of memoir and essay writing often comes into conflict with the nature of memory,” says instructor Rob Williams. “How do we keep our pact with the reader, to honor the truth of our story, when we may not be able to recall all of the details or even dialogue? Or maybe we weren’t even there to witness the event. How do we avoid misleading the reader or misrepresenting our history?”
In this two-day class, we’ll look at how we work with the imperfection of memory and still keep that pact. We'll also talk about strategies for coping with the vagaries of memory.
We’ll read examples of 'perhapsing' from new and established writers, analyze and discuss the techniques, reflect on various impacts of implicit and explicit signaling of imperfect recall on the narrative, and practice ‘perhapsing’ in our own writing through prompts and exercises.
Students will leave the class with having written several fully realized short scenes (or the start to an essay) where they’ve remained true to the heart of their story, and still an honest reliable narrator, while at the same time ‘perhapsing’ and speculating what might have been for the parts unknown. They will also have the tools and techniques to continue beyond the class, writing further about the people, places, and times they thought previously were out of their reach.
About The Writing Salon's In-Person Classes
In-person class schedules are subject to sudden change or cancellation due to Covid. We will communicate any course changes to you as quickly as possible. Masking, social distancing, and other Covid measures will be enforced in accordance with local guidelines. Before your class meets, you'll receive an email from The Writing Salon with more information about your class. If you have any questions about in-person learning, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
Rob Williams teaches Creative Writing and English at Skyline College and has led writing workshops at San Diego Writers Ink on flash fiction and creative nonfiction. His essays and fiction have appeared in Maisonneuve Magazine, Versal, 400 Words, San Diego Citybeat Magazine and various anthologies including I Do/I Don’t and Foolish Hearts. He is the co-editor of the Lambda Literary Award-nominated anthology From Boys to Men: Gay Men Write About Growing Up and has received writing fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Fishtrap. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and worked as a Poetry Reader for W. W. Norton in New York City.
- Saturday, April 22, 10:00am-1:00pm
- Saturday, April 29, 10:00am-1:00pm
Rob Williams is the best teacher. His thoughtful feedback, variety of prompts, and way of facilitating an inclusive, expansive learning environment inspired more productive, joyful writing than I've ever experienced.
I loved Rob's reading materials and just general encouragement and ease. The class exceeded my expectations across the board. I can't wait to take another.