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HOW-TO TUESDAY: Writing Hard Stories — Navigating Trauma, Family & Other Difficult Topics in Memoir

January 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST

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Writing about difficult life circumstances can help a writer understand them in a profound way. The process of re-entering those memories, taking them apart, and then putting them back together again on the writer’s own terms, can transform them into something deeply meaningful for both writer and reader.

In this talk focused on writing “the tough stuff,” author Melanie Brooks shares from her own memoir-writing experience the challenges of confronting the vulnerability, fear, and pain that inevitably accompany the journey to bring hard stories to the page. This session will consider the following questions:

  • How do we peel back the layers of memory to get to the heart of our stories?
  • How do we cope with the difficult emotions that are dredged up in the process?
  • How do we navigate the tricky terrain of our families, particularly if we are writing about circumstances that overlap with theirs?
  •  How do we shape and craft our stories so they are accessible for others?

Attendees will leave with strategies for uncovering the powerful stories they have to tell and for taking care of themselves in the process.

About the series: How-To Tuesdays are monthly talks on the craft of creative nonfiction, publishing, marketing and the writing life led by Hippocampus Magazine editors & contributors. Your registration helps fund our contributor payments and other costs associated with running our journal.


Melanie Brooks
Headshot of Author Melanie BrooksMelanie Brooks is the author of the memoir A Hard Silence: One daughter remaps family, grief, and faith when HIV/AIDS changes it all (Vine Leaves Press, 2023) and Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma (Beacon Press, 2017).

All of our How-To Tuesday speakers have a connection to Hippocampus, and Melanie is a past contributor to our magazine and also wrote a chapter for our craft anthology Getting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative Nonfiction. She’s has had numerous interviews and essays on topics ranging from loss and grief to parenting and aging published in the The Boston Globe, HuffPost, Yankee Magazine, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and other notable publications.

She teaches creative nonfiction in the MFA programs at Bay Path University and Western Connecticut State University and professional writing at Northeastern University. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast writing program and a certificate in narrative medicine from Columbia University.

Melanie lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two children (when they are home from college), and chocolate lab.


January 16
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST
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Online (Zoom Webinar)


Hippocampus Magazine and Books
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