Now is the perfect time to be a writer in Singapore. There are good incentives given to encourage new writers by National Arts Council (NAC) and the Library (NLB) conducts many free creative workshops – one of which is creative writing.
I was lucky to attend a half day creative workshop on 14 February, and for the last five Mondays, I attended a Memoir Workshop conducted by Verena Tay.
The memoir workshop was a closed workshop opened to members of the public who had attended the Guided Autobiography Programme (GAP) and I was lucky to participate despite not being in the GAP as there were openings.
A good workshop depends on many factors – lecturer, materials, and of course classmates. My classmates knew each other from GAP but I fitted right in. For once, I was the youngest as the GAP program was opened only to those aged 50 years and above.
Verena was an affable teacher, with experience in fiction writing and theatre, which explains the stage presence she commanded as she gesticulated wildly to bring across a point. It was fascinating watching her, which meant you won’t fall asleep.
In the first lesson, we were taught the difference between a memoir and autobiography, which nowadays is quite interchangeable. Then we were given sample memoirs, as well as basic writing rules to discuss. To help us start, we were told to think about our turning points. For homework, we were to read our classmates’ essays which they had submitted for registration as well as write a short essay on our turning points.
For the second workshop, We had a peer review on some of our classmates’ work. This was especially useful as there were a few English teachers in the class, and most of them gave constructive feedback.
The next two workshops were particularly interesting as we had guest speakers who had published their memoirs to come talk to us on their writing process. Constance Singham and Josephine Chia, whose books we were recommended to read before the course started, brought added dimensions to the class.
Yesterday was our last class and we had a peer review session for our 3000 word essays. I appreciated this sharing session. The honest and often courageous narratives which my classmates shared, showed me that how behind each of our everyday facade is a story of love, pain, betrayal and happiness.
A classmate mentioned that she would suffer from withdrawal symptoms next Monday. I am going to miss this class as well.