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Turn Your Personal Dramas into Compelling Narratives at the NCWN 2020 Spring Conference

GREENSBORO—Writers gravitate to nonfiction for all sorts of reasons: for the therapeutic benefits of unlocking the past; to breathe life into heroes and people who’ve influenced us; to uncover hard-hitting truth.

Whatever our reasons for sticking to the facts when we write, the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2020 Spring Conference, Saturday, April 18, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Grerensboro, has us covered.

Registration is open.

M. Randal O’Wain will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction, “The Art of Writing Memoir.”

We all have a story inside of us that is itching to be shared with others and as nonfiction writers we have the drive to put these memories on paper. How do we reconstruct the past and all of the messy components of life onto the page? How do we breathe personality into the people we love, and how do we illustrate the settings and landscapes that made us who we are so that a reader can experience these meaningful life events with compassion and empathy?

During our workshop period, we will practice the foundations of writing memoir artfully through exercises and readings that exemplify compelling narrative persona, vivid imagery, sensory details, and turn anecdotes into satisfying narratives that are relatable and fulfilled.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

M. Randal O’Wain is the author of Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South (Nebraska, 2019) and the short-story collection Hallelujah Station (Autumn House, 2020). He is an Assistant Teaching Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellow at Alderson Federal Correction Institute in West Virginia.

Other class options for creative nonfiction writers include “Narrative Medicine: Stories of Illness & the Power of Reflective Writing” with Aimee Mepham and “Writing Your Life: Turning Personal Stories into Universal Narratives” with Bridgette A. Lacy.

Aimee Mepham
“Narrative Medicine” will provide a brief introduction to the field of narrative medicine—the scholarly and clinical movement that centers the power of story in health care—and the wide-ranging ways it can be practiced by writers who are patients, caregivers, or simply want to explore the connection between writing and healing. We will read and discuss select short pieces about health and illness, followed by practicing several reflective writing prompts/exercises that allow writers to explore their relationship with writing’s therapeutic potential.

Aimee Mepham is Assistant Director of the Humanities Institute at Wake Forest University where she is co-chair of the Story, Health, & Healing initiative. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis and has taught writing workshops at Indiana University, Washington University in St. Louis, Wake Forest University, and Salem College. She is also the Creative Nonfiction Editor of Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing. Her work has appeared in Meridian, River Styx, and Hobart, among others, and has also been performed twice by Liars’ League NYC, a live literary journal featuring professionally trained actors reading original short stories by writers.

Bridgette A. Lacy writes about the big and small moments of life, ranging from losing her sense of smell to a brain tumor to crafting essays on Sunday Dinner. Join her for a ninety-minute creative nonfiction class, “Writing Your Life,” where she’ll discus turning our private moments into literary gold. To make readers connect to our story, our work must show the turmoil, the joy, and those private moments that resonate in our own lives. During her class, she will share some techniques for focusing our life stories and fine-tuning them for publication.

Bridgette A. Lacy
Bridgette A. Lacy is an award-winning journalist and author. She served as a longtime features writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh. She’s the author of Sunday Dinner, part of the Savor the South series by UNC Press and a finalist for the Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize. Lacy is also a contributor to The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food (Eno Publishers, 2016) and 27 Views of Raleigh: The City of Oaks in Prose & Poetry (Eno Publishers, 2013). Her work has appeared in Our State, Salt, and O.Henry.

Additional course offerings include “Public Speaking for Writers” with Cameron Kent and “What a Long Strange Trip: From Manuscript to Finished Book” with Robin Miura and Lynn York of Blair, Publisher.

Additional programming includese faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, an exhibit hall packed with publishers and literary organizations, and “Lunch with an Author,” where conferencegoers can spend less time waiting in line and more time talking with the author of their choice. Spaces in “Lunch with an Author” are limited and are first-come, first-served. Preregistration and an additional fee are also required for this offering.

Spring Conference is sponsored in part by UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide coffee for conference-goers during registration and check-in. Other sponsors include Written Word Media and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Learn more and register at