Writing about Family // Webinar

Hidden Pitfalls and Proven Strategies

Writing about Family // Webinar

The most intimate, powerful, and fraught relationships in our lives are often with the limited inner circle we call family (whether biological or chosen).

Naturally, writers are drawn to these relationships in their work. But nonfiction writers often don’t have the luxury of masking the identities of their subjects; to write about close relationships means putting our family and other loved ones on a public stage, sometimes against their will. This, in turn, can have immense consequences for the writer and the writing itself. Whether we publish our work or not, writing about family can present issues that we may not even anticipate. How we approach this writing is therefore something that warrants consideration.

In this webinar we’ll explore the myriad issues related to writing about family, including real concerns about ethics, the writer’s fear of repercussions and how that affects your craft, family responses to publication, discrepancies in memory between family members and the writer, discerning which details to include in a narrative and your motivations for revealing them, obstruction of your research by others, psychological and emotional effects on the writer, legal issues during the publishing process, and more. You’ll hear strategies for dealing with these myriad issues based on personal and collected advice from successful writers of family memoirs. Most importantly, this webinar will help you to move through those inevitable issues and focus on the most important goal: Continuing to write and being the best writer you can be.

In this webinar, you will

  • IDENTIFY the possible issues that may arise when you  embark on writing a personal essay or book about family
  • DISTINGUISH between writing about family out of spite or for spectacle’s sake, and writing about family with a narrative purpose
  • LEARN practical coping strategies for intellectual, psychological, and issues that may arise out of writing about family
  • PRACTICE specific techniques to make your writing more nuanced when writing about family

Writers of all levels can benefit from this webinar, especially those who are embarking on a first memoir that centers on events involving family members.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

2 pm - 3:15 pm EDT

Advance registration required.
Space is limited.

$15 if registered by 08/9/2020
$20 if registered after 08/9/2020

Registration will close 24 hours before the event.

A recording of the webinar will be sent out to all registrants three business days after the event.

PLEASE NOTE: It may take a little while for us to process your order and send you the link to the webinar. If you haven't received the link by the morning of August 19, please email us at information@creativenonfiction.org.


About the instructor: Mieke Eerkens is a Dutch-American writer who grew up between Los Angeles and the Netherlands. Her book, All Ships Follow Me: A Family Memoir of War (Picador, 2019), explores her father’s childhood internment in a WWII labor camp in Japan-occupied Indonesia, and her mother’s experience as the child of Nazi collaborators in the Netherlands. Her work has appeared in various outlets, including the Atlantic, the Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Pen America, Pank, Guernica, and Creative Nonfiction, among others. Her work has been anthologized in Best Travel Writing 2011; Norton’s Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts; and A Book of Uncommon Prayer. She earned an MA in English from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She teaches creative writing online for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.


Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email the director of education, Sharla Yates, at yates@creativenonfiction.org.