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Make writing your story a reality

Leigh Horton
Special to the Daily
Michelle Theall, a Texas transplant to Colorado and author of "Teaching the Cat to Sit," will lead memior writing event on Wednesday at The Bookworm of Edwards. The workshop will focus on narrative storytelling, writing through difficult circumstances and building a supportive community of readers.
Special to the Daily |

if you go ...

What: Memoir writing workshop with Michelle Theall, author of “Teaching the Cat to Sit.”

When: 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards at Riverwalk.

Cost: $30, includes appetizers.

More information: Call 970-926-7323.

EDWARDS — Have a story to tell? In an effort to help local authors develop their skills, The Bookworm of Edwards is hosting a memoir-writing workshop on Wednesday.

“I get the chance to meet with hundreds of writers every year, many who want advice about how best to share their own life’s story,” said Nicole Magistro, owner of The Bookworm. “This is the opportunity to get some advice from someone who really knows.”

Michelle Theall, a Texas transplant to Colorado and author of “Teaching the Cat to Sit,” will lead the event, which focuses on narrative storytelling, writing through difficult circumstances and building a supportive community of readers.

‘A TREMENDOUS OUTLET’

“Writing is a tremendous outlet, but writing a memoir has been a life-changer for me,” Theall said. “I put my life under a microscope and didn’t always like what I saw.”

She said considers her endless revisions and edits as the therapy she needed to make her stories bearable.

“We all have important stories to tell and we connect and learn from each other through telling them,” Theall said. “Stories connect us and help us know we are not alone. There are universal truths, and they give our lives meaning.”

Write your story

Theall intends to help the workshop attendees get started writing their own memoirs. Most importantly, she wants to present clear ways for writers to sift through years of material to hone in on their story, the one only they were born to tell.

Theall’s focus will be on allowing authors to overcome their fear of writing about their stories, to convince budding authors that they have stories that need to be heard and to present practical ways to keep track of ideas and other aspects of writing.

She’ll ask questions about central themes in their writing, but she will also reveal questions she had to ask when writing her own memoir.

EXAMINING IDENTITY

What is family? How do we define it? How does it impact us? These are all questions that she’ll present during the workshop.

Individual identity and family belonging are both central to Theall’s story, and as she relates in the book, her expectations about what a family should be were constantly challenged. At first, she found an outlet for her internal struggle with identity in song writing, then later as a journalist.

“I just needed to keep writing longer and longer until expressing myself changed from a two-minute song to a 90,000 word book,” she joked.

The layers of her life are explored in detail through the title’s metaphor, which comes from an early gift the author once received from her mother. As a child, Theall got a cat instead of the dog she thought she wanted, and she soon realized that she couldn’t expect the same from her kitten as she could from a puppy.

It’s a clash that repeats itself throughout her life and one she was finally able to come to peace with through her own writing. She hopes she’ll be able to help local writers do some of that same work and produce a piece of lasting art at the same time.

Leigh Horton is the journalism intern at The Bookworm of Edwards and a senior at the Colorado School of Mines.


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