Session and Speaker Preview: Jenna McGuiggan, One-Moment Memoirs

As HippoCamp nears, we spoke with one more presenter about her upcoming appearance. If you have a “moment,” continue on to read about Jenna McGuiggan, who is presenting on short-form essays.

jennifer mcguigganHippocampus: We don’t want to give too much away about your session, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.

Jenna: As writers, we too often think that we have to sit down with a fully-formed story ready to be written. I used to think I wasn’t a “real” writer because I’d start with just a snippet, an image, or a vague idea in mind, even when writing about true events. Then I realized that this is true for many writers, and no wonder! After all, writing is a process of discovery. My workshop is designed to help people tap into that spirit of discovery all the way through the writing process, from idea generation to the first sentences to revision.

Tell us who would benefit most from your session and why. 
This session will be great for writers who are new to writing flash essays, as well as those who are interested in trying something different to generate essay ideas and quickly jump into the heart of those stories. And truth be told, even though we’ll be focusing on writing short memoir essays, the exercises I’ll share can be used for longer pieces and even non-narrative work. I’m not saying the technique is one-size-fits-all, but I do believe it’s flexible enough for every writer to take and customize it for her own writing.

What is your best advice for attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?
Consider creating two or three goals or intentions for your time at the conference. That way, you can focus your energy and activities accordingly.>

Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the inaugural HippoCamp? 
I love spending time surrounded by other writers and immersing myself in that writerly culture. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, reconnecting with a few friends, and generally geeking out over all things writing.

What’s on your personal conference agenda? Perhaps share with us a session/event you don’t want to miss.
I’m excited about Viannah Duncan’s “Nonfictitious Poetry” session. So much of what I write leans toward the meditative and lyric that I often half-joke that I should have been a poet. I love examining the intersections of poetry and prose.