This blog post was written by Emily Yost, Senior Program Coordinator for the Writing & Mentoring Program. The family memoir workshop was on November 19, 2016.
Our workshop space is warm. There is sunlight streaming through the windows of our 10th floor office, we have our group of almost 90 AM cohort mentees and mentors placed in small circular groups around the room, and at the center of all the morning coffee and workshop packets is our craft talk speaker, Mara Wilson.
Between the ages of 4 and 7, I think I watched Matilda with my dad at least 100 times, preferably accompanied with slices of Ellio’s frozen pizza. When I started at Girls Write Now my dad sent me an email that he had learned that Mara Wilson was also living in New York and was now a writer. I still have an email that says “wouldn’t it be cool if she could do something with your girls?” Fast forward a year and a half. Mara Wilson published her memoir, Where Am I Now? with Penguin Random House in September and it occurs to me that she would be a perfect craft talk speaker for our Family Memoir workshop. We connect, she agrees, and I text my dad.
I have organized 16 sessions of Girls Write Now genre workshops and I had never witnessed more note-taking from mentees and mentors during a craft talk than when the craft talk speaker was Mara Wilson. It’s clear that Mara is incredibly educated, practiced, and passionate in the craft of writing. Mara read an excerpt from her memoir, shared her writing journey finding her identity through words and workshop groups, and answered all of our mentees and mentors’ questions with applicable examples and immediate advice.
Words from Mara Wilson, on writing:
“I find the more details you include the more universal it is.”
“You can’t be afraid to fail the first time around.”
“In drama there will always be comedy; it’s the way you look at things.”
On writer’s block: “Writer’s block isn’t that I don’t have an idea; it’s that I can think of something, but I don’t trust myself. Trust yourself and write your thoughts down.”
“Make it personal and specific to you. Start from the perspective of humanity.”
I’m eager to read the memoir pieces that mentees will pen with Mara’s guidance in mind, especially as we continue in our community to rise, speak, and change together.