Building on its success in previous years, the workshop programme at this year’s Paisley Book Festival is bigger and better than ever, with opportunities to get creative in a number of different ways. From an online workshop with Elspeth Wilson about writing joy and happiness inspired by pop culture, to a live session with Leela Soma about writing inspired by Indian dance, including a live performance! If its flash-fiction, found poetry or song-writing you’re after, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

On Wednesday 23rd February, Tawnya Renelle from Beyond Form Creative Writing will be in Paisley Central Library to deliver a workshop about writing memoir. In line with the festival’s theme this year – Stories Mak Us – we wanted to give our audiences a chance to get their own stories down onto paper and share some top tips on how to make a start. Our Associate Programmer Jess Orr caught up with Tawnya ahead of the session:

Jess: Hi Tawnya – tell me about Beyond Form and what inspired it?

Tawnya: At Beyond Form Creative Writing, we believe a writers’ creativity should not be defined or limited by literary traditions and that all stories deserve to be told, and told in whatever way suits them best, regardless of literary traditions. We make our products and courses accessible to all, actively foster community in experimental practice and employ experimental teaching methods to give creative writers permission and space to explore their work. We are a creative writing hub, offering courses, mentoring, publications and events all dedicated to exploring experimental forms. We push ourselves to be a business that is daring, pioneering, curious, generous and supportive. 

Jess: Sounds exciting and inspiring – and what will you be doing in this session at Paisley Book Festival?

Tawnya: This will be a two-hour workshop exploring experimental memoir. We’ll look at unique approaches to writing about yourself and the various ways we might tap into telling our own story. In connection with this year’s theme about storytellers, this is the perfect workshop if you are wanting to explore some innovative ways to talk about your experiences. From looking at memories to considering an object as the site of story to use of images, this workshop has a little bit for everyone and is a great sampling of how you can remake your own story.

Jess: Do I need to be an experienced writer to attend?

Tawnya: Absolutely not! I build all of my creative writing workshops so that someone with any experience or interest can attend. It’s open to all skill levels and artists from any background. In one of my current courses, I have a dancer, painter, and a marine biologist! I love working with folks from all kinds of backgrounds and part of why I love experimental writing is that it can be accessed by anyone.

Jess: That’s brilliant, we can’t wait. Finally, tell us about a story that has really impacted you and inspired you to get into writing?

Tawnya: I always say that I myself am an accidental memoirist. I never set out to write about myself or talk about my life experiences, but once I started writing it really flowed out of me and I haven’t been able to stop. There are so many great stories and memoirs out there, but some of the biggest influences on me as a writer and reader have been Zami by Audre Lorde, Against Memoir by Michelle Tea, Constellations by Sinead Gleeson, and Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles. I truly love memoir because there are so many incredible stories in the world that are both different and similar to my own. When I read a memoir I always walk away learning something, and that for me is a really exciting part of reading.

Beyond Form: A Memoir Writing Workshop

Live Event
  • 23rd February at 11:00am – 1:00 pm
  • Central Library, 15 Mill St, PA1 1ND
  • Tickets – £12/£10

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