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Sonoma County Gazette
We are called the Santa Rosa Senior Authors Memoir Writing class.
We are called the Santa Rosa Senior Authors Memoir Writing class.

'What's Your Story?':
Local Memoir Writing Class
Prompts Members to Reflect

Apr 5, 2019


Have you ever thought of preserving your family history? Do you wish you'd asked your parents more about their life? Do you want to leave a record of your life experiences for your family, grandchildren and great grandchildren? Do you want to meet an interesting group of men and women who have decided to do just that?

Then you should consider joining a friendly group of people who are writing their history, special events, and experiences in an informal writing environment. We love new-comers!

“Participating in the memoir class has been one of the most fun things I've done in retirement. I've improved my writing skills while recording my life for my family. In the process, I realize what an interesting and fortunate life I've had, giving me unexpected contentment.” — Wayne Brigden, member since 2012.

Our emphasis is on supporting and encouraging members to write their stories for just this purpose, while enjoying stories from other class members. They are entertaining and fun to hear!

We are called the Santa Rosa Senior Authors Memoir Writing class. We are the longest running, continuous memoir writing class in Santa Rosa. After years of sharing stories from our lives, we’ve become a social group and we support each other.

“Every time I leave class I feel ‘up’. I’ve never felt looked down on for not having a formal education in writing. I’m grateful for that. I write so my heirs know who I am, what I did, and what life was like ‘in my day’.” —Bev Johnson, member for 29 years.

Everyone has interesting stories — what are yours?

Members write short accounts about specific events in their life, not long autobiographies. Topics vary from humorous to poignant to tragic. Some have written about the devastating wildfires of 2017. In many ways writing is cathartic.

There are no tests and no grades. To help get the creative juices flowing, the instructor suggests topics each week that stimulate the imagination. Butwriting on a topic is not required.

“I enjoy the class and write about my experiences as a law enforcement officer for 38 years so my great grandchildren  will know of my experiences long before they were born.” —Sal Rosano, member since 2014.

Typical stories are 1,000 to 1,500 words (if typewritten, that’s two or three pages). Either the author reads the story, or it can be read by another member of the class so the author can listen to their own words. Members often discuss the stories and make constructive comments, followed by analysis and suggestions by the instructor.

Articles can also be submitted in advance to the instructor via email for editorial suggestions. The instructor, Sheri Graves, has been leading the class since 2013. She is a published author and is retired from the Press Democrat.

“After years of sharing stories from our lives, we’ve become  friends that care about each other.” —John McGourty, member since 2013.

This class has met on Thursdays at Friends House since 1985. Originally part of the SRJC Community Education Program, the class is now a self-sustaining activity, paying the instructor with voluntary contributions.

Please join us. There is no risk.See if you like our group (we know you will!). The class meets Thursday mornings from 9:00 until noon. Mid-way through we take a break for refreshments and socializing.

“I wish I’d asked both of my parents more about my family history.  Now it’s too late. I am writing my history, experiences, and  episodes from my life that define me for my children and  grandchildren.” — Russell Ernst, member since 2014.

You'll find us at  Friends House684 Benicia, Santa Rosa in room Commons B. There are about 25 people in the class, coming from all over Sonoma County. You are invited to just take a seat any Thursday morning, bring a story or enjoy the stories, and join us for coffee and a snack. You’ll be glad you did.

For more information:

Email Russell Ernst: 

Call Marion McMurtry: 707-537-1342


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