Welcome to this course in the specialization of personal essay and memoir. My name is Sayid Sayrafiezadeh. I'm a memoirist, personal essayist, and I also write short stories. So, you're going to say this is really weird, but we're going to begin talking about all of this, but talking about fiction. Why? First of all, what's the point of non-fiction? We're writing about ourselves, we are writing about things that have happened to us. This is another way of saying maybe were a little bit narcissistic that we have things that we've experienced that we think, oh my God, they're so interesting that I can't wait to share them with the world. So, one of the things we've got to figure out first off is what makes for an interesting story. Because there's anything just make for an interesting story, or do you have to pick and choose what you're going to talk about. So, whether you are going to talk about say, I lost my dog, or my dad forgot to pick me up for the softball game, or something may be extremely traumatic like, I was in a car accident, all of these things we've got to decide are they worthy of a story and how do we tell them. And is there anything we can learn from the folks who do fiction in order to better get our stories across. Okay, so I'm going to ask you to do something before we go any further, which is, I want you to write your earliest memory. Whatever it was, if you remember something at the age of four, then write that down, and if it wasn't until you are 10, write that down or 15, who knows. So, take some time, and I want you to write out your earliest memory. Maybe you only write a few lines, maybe you write one page. I welcome back. I'd love to know what you came up with. Here's an idea, post them in the forums. So, we can all take a look, your peers can see what you've written. And listen it doesn't have to be a big thing that you did. I mean again, maybe it's, I don't know, you went to school and you are wearing strange color of shoes, and people made fun of you, that's something that could make for a great piece. So, actually let me ask you something. Let's say theoretically that your earliest memory is the time you went to school, and you were wearing funny colored shoes, and your classmates made fun of you. The question is, who is the most important person in that story? Who's the most important character? So, is it going to be the classmates? Is it going to be the teacher? Is it going to be the friend that jumped in and rescued you? Or the friend that didn't jump in and rescue you? Okay, here's another question. Let's say your earliest memory was a time you got lost on the street. Look at that, who's the most important character in that story? Is it that the police officer who found you? Is it the nice neighbor who took you in? Is it mom who came and rescued you? I really want you to think about this because I hate to say but it's a trick question, and I think I know what you're going to say the answer is, and isn't the answer the most important person in the story myself. Because again, we're writing about ourselves, and so, here we are. We think our lives are super important, and so the answer to who the most important person, the most important character in the story is the reader. That's the answer. Here's the journal. Here's the journal that we've kept. Of all of our private thoughts, feelings, experiences, what we're going to do is, we're going to transition from this to this. This is when we write for ourselves. This is when we're writing for somebody else. This is when it becomes creative writing. We are actually now writing for an audience who doesn't know us, might not even care about us unfortunately. This is my memoir. It's called when skateboards will be free, and it's about me growing up in the Socialist Workers Party in the United States, which was a French Communist Organization that both my mother and father were members of, and we believed that the United States was going to be destined to be engulfed in a working-class revolution. The title, "When Skateboards Will be Free", comes from an experience in my childhood when my mother took me to buy a skateboard. I was about eight years old, and I said I want the green one, and she said, "Well, we can't afford it, but when the revolution comes, you'll have a skateboard, because everyone will have a skateboard, because all skateboards will be free." So, that's my memoir, but here listen, this is the point of what we're getting at. We are going from journal to memoir. We're going from private musings to a public presentation. It's actually a performance of sorts. I want to just demonstrate this, and what you might say is a very simplistic way, but I think it's going to get the point across. Here's the opening line of my memoir. My father believes that United States is destined one day to be engulfed in a socialist revolution. I know the sentence, I know what it means. So, how do I render it? I want you to look at the screen, and see this. So, as you can see what's on screen, it's ungrammatical, there's a lot of typos in it. It's just one sentence, and of course, I know what it means and it comes from my journal, which can be totally sketchy and blah, blah, blah. The handwriting doesn't even need to be clear. Then, followed by what was the opening line from my memoir, which I've already read, my father believes United States is destined one day to be engulfed in a socialist revolution. So, you can see that on the one hand, one is just for me, maybe it'll never see the light of day. Then, the next aversion is for me trying to communicate something to someone who doesn't know me. And I get it that this is a basic concept, we're just talking punctuation, grammar, typos. Who cares really? But keep that principle in mind, that we're looking to communicate something. That we're aware of the reader, that we're aware of the audience. Speaking of audience, I'm talking to you right now. So, I need to speak at a certain volume [inaudible] you wouldn't hear me. I'm aware of the audience. If I moved out of the frame, you wouldn't see me. I'm here talking to you. If you've seen a play, you know that actors when they speak, they don't speak like this, and if they're talking to someone they don't talk to them like this. They do something called three-quarters. It's unnatural. It's not really the way humans talk to each other, we would face one another. But they stand here like this because they're aware of the audience, it's about the audience. So, the most important character in what we're writing, whether it's about you being lost, whether it's about you having really funny colored shoes that you got made fun of, the most important character when we're talking about creative writing, personal essay, and memoir is the reader.