Writing Classes

The ‘MemoirLab’ & ‘So You Want to Write’ Workshops for 2013:

Memoir Lab at Omega – August 2-4, 2013:


Ira talks about the Memoir Workshop:


Questions about the workshops?  Ask Ira


A Brief History 

Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen novels of astonishing breadth; eighteen critically acclaimed volumes of poetry, and the highly praised Sleeping with CatsAn utterly lovely memoir,” according to the New York Times.“A passionate reflection on sleeping with cats—and sleeping around.” In November 2012 Random House/Knopf will be bringing out the paperback edition of The Hunger Moon, New and Selected Poems, 1980 – 2010. She is one of the few contemporary American writers whose work continues to move, inform, and significantly change the lives of her readers.Her science fiction novels, Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She, and It are classics of the genre, taught in universities all over the world. Her historical fictions have reconstructed entire eras: City of Darkness, City of Light: the French Revolution; Vida: the tumultuous Viet Nam war era and its aftermath. The Los Angeles Timeshas called her Gone to Soldiers: “the most thorough and most captivating, most engrossing novel ever written about World War II.”

The New York Times Book Review calls Ira Wood a novelist with “a special gift for heartwarming comedy.” He was also the founder and publisher of Leapfrog Press. As an editor and a teacher, he has been praised for his ability to help his students transcend their inner censor and simplify the fundamentals of both writing and the publishing world. His new collection of autobiographical eassays You’re Married to HER? (“Saucy sexy stories…a raucus romp through a novelist’s life.”-Kirkus Reviews) will be published in August, 2012.In their many years of teaching experience Piercy and Wood were struck by the gap bet ween their students’ rich material–the great life stories they had to tell–and the lack of knowledge of writing craft needed to tell those stories.Many students long out of college, often successful in their careers, had assumed that writing their life stories would be easy…until they found that they could neither finish their books nor get them published. Many had taken uplifting workshops which encouraged their potential, their spirituality and their creativity, but did little to teach them the basic tools which would enable them to lift their writing from mere self expression to a level at which it might some day be published.


For over fifteen years, the Piercy/Wood workshops have taught both experienced and beginning writers:

• How to begin a piece by seducing your reader
• How to create characters that embody the infinite contradictions of human behavior
• How to master the elements of plotting fiction
• How to create a strategy for telling the story of your life
• How to learn to read critically, like a professional writer
• How to write about painful personal material without coming off as a victim
• The overlooked powers of dialogue
• Creating descriptions that move readers emotionally

In addition, they found that many people wanted to publish, but had no idea:

• How to get an agent or if they needed one
• How to read the sub-text of rejection letters
• How to submit work effectively
• How much writers really earn

Many writers had personal issues, such as:

• How to proceed when continually rejected by publishers
• How to carve out the personal time and space to write
• Overcoming shame and the difficulties of writing about loved ones

In universities and at retreat centers all over the United States, Piercy and Wood have been conducting workshops both in writing Fiction and the Personal Narrative (defined as memoir and the autobiographical novel). The workshops vary in length. The shortest is a one hour session; the longest five days. Typically, it is an intensive weekend. Sometimes, depending on the venue, either Piercy or Wood will teach the workshop alone. (No surprises; this is ALWAYS advertised beforehand).

What to expect at the workshops.