with Cathy Rentzenbrink
Welcome to my Sunday Sessions which I have designed to be a monthly injection of creativity, energy and enthusiasm. Each online session will have a specific focus – see below – but will also include exercises that are off-topic and that will surprise us into creating something new. I will be aiming both to illuminate various elements of memoir writing and to stimulate and encourage your most creative and playful self. You should leave full of ideas and with plenty of new material to develop.
My intention for these sessions is that we will learn a lot and feel expanded and have fun.
You can book onto individual sessions or book the whole series. This isn’t a course; you can look at my six-week programme with Curtis Brown Creative if that’s what you are after. I have designed the sessions to stand alone but also to flow into each other. You could use them as part of an accountability strategy. All booking details can be found below.
I can’t wait to see you there.
For more information you can get in touch at email@example.com
Sunday sessions: the facts
When: July 3rd, August 7th
Where: On Zoom
What time: 2-5pm
How much: £60/Concessions: £30
You can self-define as being eligible for the concessionary rate as I have decided to operate on a basis of trust. I hope this model of payment should enable me both to earn my living and provide support to those who couldn’t otherwise access it.
Sunday 3rd July 2022
Characterisation is as important for memoirists as it is for novelists. In this session we will look at the people in our stories and consider how to translate them to the page. We’ll learn how to bring real people to life and we will also look at how real people can inspire the creation of fictional characters. We will also discuss what to do about difficult people, and how to discreetly step around any friends and lovers who may not want to feature in detail in a book. This will be a great session for you if you want to address any people worries, and also learn practical tips on how to create vibrant paper versions from your flesh and blood connections.
Sunday 7th August 2022
Confession time: I used to think place was something that only nature writers needed to worry about. I was wrong. Whether or not you think you are interested in place, it will serve you greatly to get a handle on it and how it underpins any story. We will think about how and why place is important to us and our writing and consider how it can work both as setting and character. We’ll look at home and away, at being in transit, at the benefits of a change of perspective and consider actual and virtual field trips and how they can enrich our writing. I thought this was a good one to do in holiday season as being out of our own space often gives a new perspective.
If you missed a live Sunday Session and want to purchase the recording you can do so below.
Exploring the Senses: 5th June
But how? People often ask me, but how do I bring my story to life on the page? A big part of the answer is in learning how to use our senses to create atmosphere and give the reader a feeling that they are in the room with us, rather than being told facts and information after the events. This will be a highly practical session straight from my writing tool box and I hope you will leave feeling empowered and equipped to describe how you experience the world.
Voice: 8th May 2022
The single most important thing in memoir writing – perhaps in any writing – is getting the voice right. My theory is that everything else can be fixed, but that a memoir without a strong voice will never work. What do I mean by voice? It’s the art and craft of creating presence and personality on the page. In this session we’ll explore how to find our voice and what gets in the way. There will be plenty of exercises and I hope you’ll leave with a fat notebook and an enthusiasm for your own voice and its potential power.
From Blocked to Unblocked: 10th April 2022
This session goes deep into the emotional elements of writing, which for me is where most of the action is. I like to say that my writing is 95% self-doubt management which sounds like a joke but is largely true. If you want to write but can’t, or spend more time in fear than in joy, or let your mind continually run on all the reasons why you shouldn’t write, or just have a sense of being weighed down and not understanding why, then this is for you.
Structure: 3rd April 2022
Structure can be a frightening word. I’ve worked with so many people who get stuck because they are waiting to work out a perfect structure. In this session we will explore potential memoir shape with an emphasis on finding something that provides a helpful framework for the writing, rather than restricts and limits. I hope you will leave this session with a working structure for your memoir.
Memoirland: 6th March 2022
This session explores the rules of Memoirland and how they differ from real life. This session is practical will help you if you are unable to make a start because you have too many unanswered questions, or if you keep getting bogged down in events and are struggling with questions about how to deal with real people and what to leave in and keep out. I’m going to cover here all the technical things I needed to learn to stop getting stuck. You should end the session feeling much clearer about how to manage your material.
Who is eligible for the concessionary rate?
You can self-define as being eligible for this rate as I have decided to operate on a basis of trust. I hope this model of payment should enable me both to earn my living and provide support to those who couldn’t otherwise access it.
I can’t afford the concessionary rate…
I don’t want money to be a barrier to writing. Send me an email about yourself and why you would like to come and I will see what I can do.
Tell us more about the shape of the sessions:
The sessions will last three hours with two ten-minute comfort breaks and a generous allowance for questions at the end, which you’ll ask through the chat box. You’ll be doing a lot of writing so come ready for that. And, even if you use your computer to write, also have some paper and a pen handy as some of the exercises work better off the keyboard.
Will I have to read my work out loud?
No. All your work is for you.
Are there opportunities for interaction or group discussion?
Not really. I have thought about this but have decided to go with a whole group model for these sessions. There will be a Q and A at the end, with questions asked via the chat box. If you’d like to try a smaller, interactive group then there are lots of wonderful on and offline courses at Arvon and at Curtis Brown Creative.
What is the Zoom etiquette?
I would suggest you use ‘speaker view’ so you see me. Keep yourself on mute but if you are happy to leave the camera on, then I like being able to see people. We’ll use the chat box for questions and sometimes I will ask for some contributions but otherwise I’d prefer you didn’t use it as it is distracting if people start having sub-conversations; it feels like whispering in the back of the room. I will talk about this at the start of the session so we have clarity as I know some people love it and some find it very distracting. I think we can make it work for us.
What if I have technical problems?
My assistant Grace will be there to assist. You can message her within Zoom or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there a maximum number of people in each session?
No. I’ve taught large groups this way and it works really well. There is a lovely energy in the writing exercises.
Anything else I can do to prepare?
If you can, I’d suggest trying to keep your mind clear before the session. Give yourself a day off the news cycle. Take some fresh air, do a bit of light exercise if that’s your thing, allow your mind to gently mull over what gets in the way of your writing and then come ready to focus on yourself.
Do I have to do all the sessions?
Not at all. They are all stand alone. You can do any of them or all of them.
Will you be recording the sessions?
Yes, we will be recording the sessions. If you would like the recording to refer back to you can email us after the session and we will send it to you. And if you can’t attend live let us know and we can send you the recording to watch at another time. If you would like to purchase a recording for a past session, you can do so below. For more info on this send us an email here.
Can I do it if I am doing/have done one of your other courses?
Yes, I’ve designed them to accompany rather than replace. If you’ve done a course with me before this will give you a monthly injection of momentum.
Won’t it be repetitive?
Well, maybe. I think with writing we tend to need to circle and recircle the same things. Some sessions may cover things I’ve taught elsewhere but I am not reading out lectures and my teaching is organic and develops as I learn. I know that I would hugely benefit if I could experience these sessions as a student as I often revisit these themes many times during a project and then start from scratch with my next project.
What if I am a complete beginner?
Yes, they are for all levels. Though you might also want to look at my CBC six week course if you haven’t done it yet as I’m very proud of that and have had lots of great feedback.
Can I do it anonymously?
Lots of published writers ask me this! Yes, of course. Everyone deserves a private space to engage. You can change the name on your zoom box and I won’t call attention to your presence.
Does the price include VAT?
Yes, it does so if you are VAT registered you may be able to claim it back.
I am buying it as a gift. What do I have to do?
Proceed as if you were buying it for yourself and then drop us an email with the name and email address of the recipient and we will send you a gift email.
Will you offer other courses in the future?
Yes, I hope that this will be the start of something and you will inspire me to create more courses and experiences.
I would love to come on a retreat with you…
I know, and I’d love to host one but I’m just too nervous about it re Covid. Arvon have beautiful centres and run tutored retreats…
Where else are you teaching?
Do you do one-on-one mentoring?
Yes, I have a limited capacity. Email me for more details
Testimonials from previous Sunday Sessions
‘Interesting and informative and fulfilling.’
‘A wonderful session…I feel inspired to keep going and have been given some really invaluable things to think about in my own work.’
‘It was fantastic, a big help for me ; – and so enjoyable.’
‘Thanks very much again for organising such a positive, helpful session yesterday. Lots more good, realistic advice – and I love the writing exercises.’
‘Many thanks for a lovely session – I have learned a lot.’
‘It was really good, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. It’s so rare to get time to just write freely like that.’
‘Have never tried to write before or even wanted to but I’m going to have a play now…It was wonderful.’
‘A lovely afternoon thank you. Grateful for how much you give of yourself.’
‘Another brilliant session. Has reignited my purpose.’
‘Thank you so much. Encouraging, supportive and illuminating as always!’
‘Thank you so much for today – illuminating, engaging and so inspiring.’
‘Very generous of you to share the knowledge you’ve gained through sheer hard graft. This session has answered many questions I had about memoir, and some I didn’t. So thank you – it’s been incredibly useful.’
‘Brilliant and woke my brain up on a lazy Sunday afternoon.’
‘Inspiring and supportive. Lots of great practical ideas.’
‘So much motivation, so many helpful ideas, and fun & fascinating too – looking forward to the next session already. Thank you!’
‘This has Given me the big kick that I needed!!! THANKS Cathy !!!!’
‘So helpful, honest and inspiring.’
‘This has been invaluable.’
‘Thank you. Wise & generous & straightforward as ever.’
‘This has been such an inspiration, and so very honest and practical.’
‘This has been the single most helpful workshop I have ever been on. I can’t thank you enough.’