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writing workshops

Finding your ‘I’: the key to the story

NZSA graphicPip’s latest online workshop considers the importance of the first-person narrator in creative non-fiction, not only in memoir but when writers tackle wider subjects too. If we know who is speaking, we will be clear about why we are speaking and what we have come to say.

The workshop, part of the New Zealand Society of Author’s 2022 Writer Toolkit, explores why every first-person story requires a unique ‘I’; how the ‘I’ transforms the raw material of the situation into the emotional essence of the story; essential characteristics of the ‘I’ voice; and ethical considerations that strengthen our voice.

The workshop draws on Vivian Gornick’s book, The Situation and the Story, other writers and Pip’s own experience. It takes about an hour to complete and is suitable for any creative non-fiction writer searching for the right voice for their project. There are opportunities to reflect on your own work during the session, and a suggested reading list.

Click here to access the workshop. Cost: $15 for NZSA members; discounts for CSC holders; separate pricing for writing groups and non-members.

Click here for more NZSA writer toolkit workshops.

Online ethical storytelling workshop

Twenty people joined Pip’s ethical storytelling workshop in July 2020, part of an online series run by the New Zealand Society of Authors. Participants discussed the unique ethical challenges of writing creative non-fiction, including the ongoing tension between courage and compassion when we reveal real people’s lives.

Pip’s interest in ethical storytelling dates from writing her first memoir, Trust: A True Story of Women and Gangs. Her WellingtonWomen TEDx talk on this topic can be viewed on YouTube.

2020 Kāpiti Writers Retreat

Pip was one of six teaching writers at the annual Kāpiti Writers Retreat in February 2020. In her two-day workshop on writing creative non-fiction, she explored key elements of ethical story-telling: courage, compassion and finding our voice.

Pip also gave a plenary address during the retreat on gathering oral history narratives and weaving them into our written stories.  Find out more about the annual Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat here.

I greatly appreciated Pip Desmond’s sharing of her knowledge and experience in such a generous and inclusive way. Her workshops gave me much needed insight into an area of writing I’ve struggled with. Thank you, Pip and the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat.
– Fleur Beale, participant, 2020 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat

Writing workshops in Timor-Leste

During a two-year VSA assignment in Dili, Timor-Leste from 2013-2015:

  • Pat mentored local World Vision staff in story-writing, design and photography for print and web.
  • Pip taught creative writing to local researchers who had gathered 800 women’s stories of resistance to the Indonesian occupation of Timor.

Pip's creative writing class. From left: Pip, Polan, Este, Fatima, Nunu, Justin, Alito. Pip’s Dili creative writing class. From left: Pip, Polan, Este, Fatima, Nunu, Justin, Alito.