Writing the Spiritual Memoir Print E-mail

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The noted memoirist, critic, and teacher Thomas Larson guides participants in a short (two-hour) or long (all-day or weekend) workshop, which initiates and refines the craft of writing spiritually.

Based on his 2019 book, Spirituality and the Writer, Larson presents this evolving form with roots in classic literature and with a wealth of expressions in contemporary writing. The first classic/contemporary distinction is between religious autobiography and spiritual memoir. Context is key.

Religious autobiography focuses on a set of text-based beliefs and religious traditions that manifest themselves in an individual’s life either from the cradle or via conversion. Spiritual memoir, on the other hand, elicits a wide array of contexts—numinous experiences with nature, art, family, relationships, and the self. The context may involve a New Age philosophy or an Eastern practice and typically reflects an inner quest to find a deeper purpose in life, one that’s been suddenly activated or long lost.

In some ways, the writing itself is the journey: an author writes to engage the spirit via the memoir’s self-contemplative and self-evaluating discipline.

Writing exercise include practice in: a) several or all of the eight craft elements of spiritual writing, b) transforming assertions and doctrine into concrete expressions of inner and relational experience, and c) improvising or brainstorming new ways of exploring questions of faith, lost faith, and doubt.

Reading excerpts include selections from: a) Christian authors Augustine and Therese of Lisieux, b) spiritual essayists Langston Hughes and Bruce Lawrie, and c) contemporary memoirists Cheryl Strayed, Peter Matthiessen, and Barbara Ehrenreich.

The goal is an awareness of what spiritual literature is and how one’s transcendent experiences can make sense through the rigor of deeply reflective and narratively rich personal writing.

Thomas Larson has given two-hour, all-day, and weeklong workshops at bookstores, writing centers, libraries, writers' guilds, private groups, and universities for beginning and advanced memoirists throughout the United States.

Mr. Larson is also available to speak/teach at writers' conferences, do one-on-one interviews on podcasts and stage, give readings, and participate on panels devoted to religious and spiritual authorship.

For more on "Writing the Spiritual Memoir," please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for scheduling and fees.