Online Writers’ Conference Kicks Off in October with Margaret Atwood and Memoir Panel

Online Writers’ Conference Kicks Off in October with Margaret Atwood and Memoir Panel

By Anne Holler


“You did what?” I sputtered to an old friend while skimming through her newly published memoir. “You stole a fur coat while crashing a bar mitzvah at a Fifth Avenue synagogue?”

“Well, I made it up. To keep the plot moving.”

“But I thought this was a memoir.”

My friend pointed to the book cover. “Look at the subtitle: A Mostly True Memoir.”

Clearly, this genre was not as black and white as I thought.


The San Miguel Writers’ Conference is presenting a panel discussion online with four exceptional memoirists, who will take on the compelling topic of how to write about your life. You can participate right from home, Sunday, October 17, at 2 p.m.


One of the panelists, Angie Abdou, said this in an interview: “Honesty is key in memoir. If you’re going to wear a mask or soften words, thoughts, and behavior, what’s the point? When I read memoir, I want to be let inside someone’s innermost thoughts. That intimacy is central to the genre.”


“However,” she goes on, “that much honesty may come with a priceeverything from being publicly shamed or ostracized to being threatened.” 


So, panelist April Eberhardt has this advice for writers: “Consider fictionalizing your memoir to make a good story better or an evil story worse. In many cases, fiction is in fact stranger (and more compellingly readable) than truth.”


It will be a provocative conversation and a chance to meet four brilliant writers, whether you have ever read a memoir or ever attempted to write one.


Margaret Atwood


This year the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, usually held for one week in February, has become “A Literary Season Online.” The very first event is an exclusive interview with the celebrated author Margaret Atwood on October 11 at 6 p.m. She will be in conversation with prolific Canadian writer, Merilyn Simonds, in a wide-ranging interview that will showcase Atwood’s original points of view and her appealing sense of humor.


You will have a front row seat for all of these events in the ease and comfort of your own home. In a way, the presentations are more intimate than if you were listening in a large auditorium. 


Experience online networking


However, what we all miss by not meeting in person is the networking, meeting new friends, connecting with people of similar interests. So, for our Online Season, we have built in fun and effective opportunities for meeting each other, including providing one of the most common places to start new conversations: the line for the bathroom! Join us to see how it works!


Joseph Boyden and Isabel Allende


Upcoming events include interviews with Canada’s celebrated novelist—and very fun guy—Joseph Boyden, and the legendary Isabel Allende. The season also includes 24 workshops for writers, several other panels, and some fun Late-Night Events.


To register for online events


To view the San Miguel Writers’ Conference’s full Literary Season Online and to purchase a season pass, a monthly pass, or individual tickets, visit