ENG 1141: Memoir Quiz and Today’s In-class Workshop


  • This is a reminder that your Memoir Reading quiz is live on Blackboard and will close at noon today, Tuesday, May 10. Get it in!
  • We have our first Memoir Workshop in class today. Bring writing to share with your peers and be ready to read their work. Printed work is easiest to hand around, but if you only have a screen version, please make sure it’s on a device you don’t mind handing around.

See you soon!

Prof. Sears

ENG 1141 Session 25: IMPORTANT Follow-Up Links


In these last weeks of the semester, it can seem hard to focus, but we have some more work to do before we end our semester together. Here are some important links and topics reviewed in today’s class:

  • The end-of-the-semester agenda is here: ENG 1141 End of Semester Agenda
  • Remember, the Memoir Reading Quiz (5% of your grade) on Blackboard from Monday, May 9, noon to Tuesday, May 10, at noon. Here is the information on that: Readings for the Memoir Quiz
  • The overview of the Memoir Assignment is here: ENG 1141 Memoir Assignment. The topics to choose from with prompts are listed here: Memoir Review: Topics (with Prompts)
  • Our first workshop for the Memoir Assignment is this coming Tuesday, May 10, in class. Please print out a draft of your assignment for your peers.  The second in-class workshop is on Thursday, May 12.

As always, you can talk to me. Feel free to email me with questions about assignments or other course issues: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu. I also have my ZOOM office hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-5 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82754062261

Write on,
Prof. Sears


ENG 1141 End of Semester Agenda

      • Today, May 5: Writing the Braided Essay and Memoir Assignment
      • Monday, May 9, noon to noon on Tuesday, May 10 (Blackboard): Memoir Quiz
      • Tuesday, May 10: In-class Memoir Workshop 1:
      • Thursday, May 12: In-class Memoir Workshop 2
      • Sunday, May 15, end of day: Memoir due on Blackboard for a grade
      • Tuesday, May 17: In-class readings (fun!)
      • Thursday, Final:  reflective writing on Blackboard

ENG 1141 Memoir Assignment

Memoir Assignment

Assignment Description

In class we’ve discussed basic elements of memoir. These elements include:

  • Writing about an event or connected series of events that actually happened in the past. In memoir, the reader expects that events relayed happened to the writer as described. To achieve this in your writing, be as precise and clear as possible about what you remember.
  • A clear sense of time and place. To achieve this in your writing, consider making a timeline before you write your memoir or while revising to try and make these as clear as possible.
  • Writing with a self-reflective purpose. To achieve this in your writing, ask yourself questions about the subject as you write. Make sure you offer reflection and resolution about the events described.

The Purdue OWL offers this quote on memoir from Carol Spindel: “The knowledge expressed in the memoir has the legitimacy acquired through first-hand experience.” Good memoir also provides reflection on the events that have happened to the writer, so it “can give readers insights into society, and even into the larger meaning of life itself”.”

Instructions and Prompts

For this assignment, you will write a short personal memoir that reflects on a specific period in your life in response to one of three topics we explored in class. The four topics to choose from are those we worked in in class and on discussion boards:

  1. Write a short memoir that enables you to “unsilences” the silences in your life. We worked on these as a free write in our class.
  2. Write a short memoir exploring your relationship with money.
  3. Write a short memoir, exploring the story of your name.
  4. Write a series of “micro-memoirs.” You can use the braided essay technique we tried in class, highlighting a specific relationship. You could also write a series of essays on a different topic.

Feel free to develop what you have already written OR start a new one. Here is a post with all of the prompts and readings used in class related to the the  topics  listed above: Memoir Topic Review (with Prompts)

General Tips for Writing Strong Memoir

The following questions are provided as a reminder that when writing memoir, you must to help the reader understand and follow your story. Do you need to clarify the following?

  • Where does this take place? Name a city, a neighborhood, a street…show and say where this happens. Help your reader see and sense where your story takes place.
  • When does this take place? Are you writing the story of a relative or friend that took place in 1959? Or, are you telling your own story from Spring 2021? Ground the reader in the  year your story takes place.
  • Who is involved? The reader should know who the main characters are. You can make up names to hide identity if you wish, but you must give names to the important people, even if it is: my grandmother or my mom. Give the reader people to care about as they read.
  • What questions are you asking yourself as you reflect on this period of your life? Help the reader understand why you are telling this story.

Page Length Requirements

A well written 1 3/4 page submission may qualify for a C.
A well written 2 1/4  page submission may qualify for a B.
A well written 3 1/4 page submission may qualify for an A.

  • These page counts do not guarantee the above grade.
  • Double space your submission and use a 12pt font. If you write a series of micro-memoirs, just skip a line between the sections. Don’t start a new micro-memoir on a new page.
  • Submissions less than 1 3/4 pages will not pass.

Due Dates

DUE: Tuesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 12 for our in-class workshops. Have work ready for your peers to read for our synchronous workshop. In-class workshop participation  will be included on the Memoir Assignment grade.

DUE: Sunday, May 15, end of day on Blackboard for a grade. Upload your revised assignment for a grade before the end of the day. Those who turn their work in on time will have a chance to revise for a higher grade.

Criteria for Success

To do well on this assignment:

  • Show effort and thoughtfulness in your writing. This is an introductory course. You are not expected to be an expert memoir writer. You are expected to show that you are trying.
  • Show consideration of the components of memoir  discussed in class
  • Take note of and observe length requirements
  • Include a thoughtful title for your memoir
  • Participate and bring work to the in-class peer review
  • Turn the assignment in on time so you can revise

Grading Rubric-Memoir Assignment

Memoir Rubric ENG 1141-D307 Introduction to Creative Writing SP 2022

Late Paper and Revision Policy

  • If you turn in the work on Blackboard on time, you will have one chance to revise the assignment, adding a Revision Note, for a chance for an improved grade.
  • If you do not turn in the assignment on the first due date, you can turn in your assignment on Blackboard when the revisions are due. Late papers do not lose points for being late. You will, however, lose your chance to revise your work.
  • No late papers or revisions will be allowed after the second due date.


Memoir Review: Topics (with Prompts)

These are the four types of memoir we’ve discussed in this class in synchronous and asynchronous sessions. For the Memoir Assignment, you are choosing one of the four types below. Each has a prompt or prompts to help you get started. You are encouraged to develop what you’ve already written in class, but you can also use the prompts to start again.

    1. Writing Memoir to Un-silence the Silences in Our Lives
      Prompt: Writing Memoir to Un-Silence our Silences
      Example: Sakinah Hofler: How to Use Creative Writing to Bear Witness
    2. Writing about Your Relationship with Money
      The Prompts: Writing about Your Relationship with Money
      Examples: 1) Junot Diaz, “The Money” 2) Roxane Gay Financial Independence: The Most Important Thing a Woman Can Do for Herself  3) Refinery 29 Money Diaries
    3. Writing about Your Relationship with Your Name
      The Prompts: Writing the Story of Your Name
      Examples: 1) Việt Thanh Nguyen, “America Say My Name”;  2) Beth Nguyen, “America Ruined My Name for Me” ; 3) “What’s In A Name?: A Lot As It Turns Out” (article); 4) Mohamed Hassan-(un)LEARNING MY NAME (video)
    4. Writing the Micro-Memoir and Braided Essay
      Prompt: Writing the Micro-Memoir and Braided Essays
      Examples: Brenda Miller’s “Swerve”Michael Komatsu’s “When We Played”Examples of Micro-Memoirs

ENG 1141 Reminder: Memoir 1 Discussion Board

This is a quick reminder to post on our discussion board before tomorrow’s class.  A couple of you have posted your letters to Money, which is one of the options. There are instructions directly on the discussion board HERE.

Tomorrow, we will discuss writing about the story of our names. For this, we have two readings that are also on the upcoming Memoir Reading Quiz:

  1. Việt Thanh Nguyen, “America Say My Name (May 3 class session)
  2. Beth Nguyễn “America Ruined My Name for Me” (May 3 class session)

The end of the semester is just a few weeks away! Let’s stay focused until then. Email with questions if you have them and remember, I have ZOOM office hours on Tuesday and Thursdays, 4-5 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82754062261

Write on,
Prof. Sears


Session 23: Discussion Board and Fiction Assignments (extra day)


Thanks for writing and thinking about memoir in yesterday’s class. The Discussion Board is now open. Before our next class on Tuesday, May 3, please contribute two paragraphs of in-class writing from our session on Writing About Money OR Writing  about Your Life in Chapters.

Remember, there will be a reading quiz on Blackboard on Monday, May 9. The items on the reading quiz are on this earlier post: Readings for the Memoir Quiz

Finally, the Fiction Assignment Revisions and Late Papers folder will remain open on Blackboard until the end of day today (Friday, April 29, 11:59 pm) because there was a technical glitch for students uploading second drafts. The technical glitch was fixed last evening, but I’m leaving it open in case others were affected during the day yesterday.

Next week, we write about names, “micro memoirs,” and discuss the Memoir Assignment.

Write on!

Session 22: Follow Up Information

Nice work on writing and sharing the memoir exercises today. Writing about your life can bring about many benefits and help us understand who we are for the time being.

Before this Thursday’s class, please read:

When we think about writing about money on Thursday, we will think about the many different aspects that have led us to believe what we believe about money in its many aspects, who or what experiences led us to think that way, and even how we define what “money” means for ourselves and others.

Also remember that Fiction Assignment Late Papers and Revisions are due on Blackboard by the end of the day on Thursday, April 28. For instructions on the Fiction Assignment, go here: Fiction Revision Instructions and Revision Note

As always, if you have questions, feel free to stop by my office hour today  from 4-5 pm on ZOOM:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82754062261.

Write on….

ENG 1141: Welcome back from Spring Break!

I hope you had some down time over the spring break. We are back in the classroom tomorrow, so I am providing these reminders to keep you on track:

  1. Fiction Assignment-Late papers and revisions. Please remember the folder will open tomorrow (April 26) and will close at the end of the day on Thursday, (April 28). The fiction assignment is worth 20% of the course grade and this is your last chance to get it in. Note the following:
      • If you are turning in a first draft, make sure to review the assignment and note the page length requirements in this post: Fiction Assignment
      • If you are turning in a revision, make sure to include a Revision Note if you want me to consider raising the grade. Instructions for the Revision Note and for revising strategies in general are here: Fiction Revision Instructions and Revision Note
  1. We are continuing tomorrow (April 26) with our memoir writing module. We will discuss a strategy that discusses how to write about your life in chapters. On Thursday, (April 28) we will write about our relationship with money. For Thursday’s class, please read in advance Junot Diaz’s short memoir “The Money” and look through a few posts in the Money Diaries, which model one form of memoir you might pursue for your future memoir assignment.
  2. Lastly, as was announced before spring break, the Memoir Reading Quiz will be on Blackboard on Monday, May 9.  The review post for that is here: Readings for the Memoir Quiz

As always, email with questions if you have them: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu See you in class tomorrow! Write on…..

Fiction Revision Instructions and Revision Note

All fiction assignments have been graded on Blackboard. Late papers and revisions can be turned in between April 26 and April 28, 11:59 pm.

As was mentioned before during our poetry module, revision is an important part of creative writing. Many writers believe that the revision process is where the real creative process begins. Many writers claim that their relationship with their own work changes during this revision process. This post offers instructions for revisions and the Revision Note.

  • If you choose to do a revision, you  must include a Letter to Reader at the top following the instructions below.
  • Revisions and late papers must be turned in on Blackboard between Tuesday, April 26 and Thursday, April 28, end of the day, 11:59 pm. No revisions or late papers  will be considered after that date.
  • Consider going to the WRITING CENTER! The writing center is open during spring break for all of your writing needs and may have more available appointments. See the link here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/writingcenter/


  • Read my  comments on your work on the manuscript and on the grading rubric on Blackboard
  • Recommended: Reread your own work aloud to yourself or to a listener if you have it (friend, relative, pet, etc.) You can read in person, on the phone, on FaceTime, or in any manner. If you record it, you can also listen to your own voice as a listener. The act of hearing your own words aloud is the important piece for revision.
  • Make necessary changes to your story or stories.
  • At the top of your revision, write a two paragraph reflection titled Revision Note, following the instructions below. Revisions submitted without this note will not be considered for a higher grade. I use this note to understand what you changed and why you changed it.
  • Submit the revision to Blackboard on time in the Major Assignments folder.

Instructions: Revision Note

      1. In the first paragraph, consider the following:
        • Describe what changes you made in this revision or “re-envisioning” of your work.
        • Describe your process of working on the revision: how long did you spend working on this revision? What did you find challenging about revision? What about the process did you like?
      2.  In the second paragraph, consider the following:
        • What have you learned about yourself as a writer by working on this revision?

After you’ve drafted this letter, think about whether the changes you mention in the first paragraph match up with the revision that follows. Will I be able to see the changes you mention when I compare your drafts? If not, then use the letter as a revising tool to make a few more adjustments to your revision. Then, turn in the revision and the Revision Note as a single file in the Major Assignments folder on Blackboard before the due date.