with Elizabeth Peavey


Whether you are knee-deep in your life story or looking for a way to begin, this workshop will give you the tools and guidance necessary to move forward.

Participants will examine the history and nature of memoir and discuss the tricky issue of truth vs. fact. The instructor will lead a conversation about the way in which imagination informs memory, how our easiest “truths” are not always our best ones and consider new ways to approach being honest with the reader—and ourselves. Peavey’s workshops always includes lots of laughs, as well as a few tears shed (usually by the instructor herself).

This workshop will dig into the nuts and bolts: how to develop a clear thesis, how to establish voice, where to start and end a narrative and how to make the world on the page come alive for readers through sharp prose and vivid detail.

Participants will be required to review one or two peer manuscripts (using provided guidelines) prior to the retreat.

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants in the memoir workshop are asked to submit a manuscript of up to 1000-words by no later than 9:00 a.m. on April 22. Please email the manuscripts as attachments to with the subject line: “PEAVEY BLACK FLY MSS.”  *Word files are preferred, but you may also send a PDF.  Please note: there is no printing available at the retreat location.

+ PLEASE READ Please take a few moments to read Ms. Peavey’s description of constructive critiquing techniques, which is intended to help attendees create a supportive and nurturing environment. DOWNLOAD HERE.

Draft # 4 by John McPhee
The Situation and The Story by Vivian Gornick
When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood
Without a Map by Meredith Hall
H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Elizabeth Peavey’s one-woman show, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, has played to sold-out houses since 2011 and received the Maine Literary Award for Best Drama. It made its New York City debut in 2015 and its first professional production at the Public Theatre in Lewiston, November 2017. She is the author of three books, most recently, Glorious Slow Going, an MLA finalist and a collaboration with renowned landscape painter Marguerite Robichaux. Peavey has authored countless newspaper features and columns, and her writing has appeared in Down East magazine since 1993.

Peavey has served as a lecturer of public speaking at the University of Southern Maine for over 20 years and has taught creative non-fiction at UMF. Her popular memoir workshops have been presented by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance since the days of quill and parchment. In 2015, she launched a memoir-writing program for older adults and went on to develop an online version through Senior College. She currently coaches corporate and private speech clients and is a frequent guest lecturer and speaker at schools, libraries and associations across the state. All of which is to say, she’s never been able to hold down a real job.


(Photo by Doug Bruns)