SouthWest Writers (SWW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to helping both published and unpublished writers improve their craft and further their careers. This includes monthly meetings with lectures, workshops, courses, and conferences. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, SWW has served writers of all skill levels in every genre. SWW has a history of assisting the State’s military population with a joint writing conference with the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) held in 2019 and workshops addressing how to write for and about the military.
In 2023, SWW was the recipient of two New Mexico Arts (NMA) military mini-grants resulting in the publication of an anthology, Holes in Our Hearts, with contributions from our New Mexican military family (active-duty military, veterans, family members, and caregivers). NMA has been generous once again and provided SWW with a new grant with a different purpose: an online memoir writing course specifically for veterans and active-duty military members (including reservists and National Guard).
In order to give New Mexico active-duty military and veterans a meaningful opportunity to engage with the arts and support their own healing, SWW will offer a free online memoir writing course. The course will consist of four week-long segments, taken by each student when convenient during the module week. The course is expected to start in February 2024 and is primarily oriented to individuals who have stories to tell but have not yet developed the skills to write them.
Like online courses offered today anywhere in higher education, there are required videos, exercises, and peer and instructor feedback. Module 1 — Encyclopedia-type (Biopedia) short memories recalled with a keyword, title, and the single point of the why to write about this event. Module 2 — Horizontal or vertical timeline and/or map, listing significant life lessons at that place and point in time. Can also list significant world events and unusual personal experiences. Module 3 — Time capsule — what is important to the student right now. Module 4 — Review, polishing, and plan what to do next.
The course can accommodate a maximum of thirty-five participants. All participants must be New Mexicans. A New Mexico participant must be either a current resident of the state or, if on active-duty, still a legal resident (official Home of Record is New Mexico, votes, a car registered, and driver’s license is from New Mexico). Priority will be given to applicants from remote areas of the state (think Silver City, Clovis, Farmington, or Clayton) and to those who have not yet written a memoir. To make the latter quite clear, if the applicant has published award-winning poetry, for example, but has never written a memoir, they would be part of the target audience.
Selected enrollees will pace themselves through online modules and post their writing assignments on a private page where other students and the instructor will record comments. Computer competence is required — modules are not taught using Zoom but are fully online, just like courses are taught today in schools and colleges.
The instructor is Latayne C. Scott, an experienced Memoir Course Instructor, award-winning author, Ph.D., and a New Mexico business owner specializing in memoirs, with over two decades of writing on and with military personnel and subjects. Anyone wanting more information about Latyne or her instructional method may find more at: https://latayne.com/mmlbp. The course is offered for free to veterans selected for this program. It may be taken by others at the price listed.
Once students have completed the course, veterans enrolled at the New Mexico VA Health Care System will be eligible to use what they wrote in the annual National Veterans Creative Arts Festival or to take steps to participate in Exposure Therapy programs at the VA that make use of memoir writings. Thus, this course will directly support veterans who wish to use creative writing in their healing process.
Students will be able to participate in the annual writing contests run by SWW or to send their work for consideration of being published anywhere. SWW plans to apply for a 2025 NMA grant featuring new writings by authors participating in the 2024 program. SWW will assist participants in finding more in-depth follow-up memoir writing classes.
To apply, click on the following link: Application for Memoir Course. All applications must be submitted online.
Applicants selected for the program will be notified by email within a few weeks of the end of the submission window. All applicants who meet eligibility criteria but were not selected will automatically be placed on standby status to fill unexpected losses during the course or if NMA offers additional resources to increase the student load. Students will incur no costs to take the course.