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20 December 2022

Autofiction Online Writing Workshops -- Durre Shahwar

Wasafiri is excited to announce an autofiction workshop series, which comprises two online writing workshops tutored by our 2022/2023 Writer-in-Residence Durre Shahwar, taking place on 24 January 2023 and 21 February 2023, from 7-9pm GMT, on Zoom.

These online workshops will focus on autofiction, self-representation, and prose-writing across and beyond genres. The workshops will build upon each other and go hand-in-hand, but can also be attended individually. Participants will consider definitions, critical viewpoints, structures, and themes to arrive at their own understanding of autofiction – a genre that can often be elusive. The workshops are open to writers at all levels and particularly to those from under-represented backgrounds and tickets can be purchased separately or as a pair with a workshop pass. Optional preliminary reading will be sent to participants before the workshops.
When I was starting out as a writer, I was afraid of the vulnerability required to write from the self. I had been convinced by someone else that it was 'cheating', and in fact, not 'real' writing. It took me a long time, to push past that, and as I gained more knowledge and confidence, I came to my own conclusions. Writing from experience isn’t so much about extracting ourselves onto the page or what is real and what isn't, but instead an opportunity, an opening to extend ourselves beyond any given limits and tap into what connects us to others and makes us powerful. I hope that these workshops will encourage the attendees to do just that. – Durre Shahwar.

Autofiction: A Paradox?

Tuesday 24 January 2023, online via Zoom, 7-9pm GMT

What is autofiction and what is its definition? Is it a hybrid genre, a thinly veiled autobiography, or something else entirely? This workshop will consider various definitions and approaches to provide a general understanding of what autofiction is, its nuances, and why you might write in it. In an interview, Ocean Voung says, 'when I write, I feel larger than the limits of my body'. Arguably, the obsession with ‘what’s real and what’s not’ in autofiction is limiting to the work. How do we push against this, and against traditional boundaries of writing to be more innovative and have more autonomy over self-representation?

The workshop will explore and discuss excerpts of writing and essays to be inspired by, will include writing exercises, and the opportunity to share work with the workshop group.

Prose-writing: setting yourself free.

Tuesday 21 February 2023, online via Zoom, 7-9pm GMT

This workshop will focus on different structures and styles of prose writing, including those of autofiction, to encourage attendees to write beyond and across genres. As writers we often find ourselves replicating formulas that weren’t created with stories that are underrepresented and historically marginalised in mind. This workshop will encourage attendees to consider alternative structures that heighten our self-expression on the page, and resist categorisation. Can autofiction offer us a space for a larger form of expression? Who is ‘allowed’ to write autofiction? What can structure do to resist, subvert, and strengthen our narratives and how can we apply this to our own work?

The workshop will look at different examples of structure, form, style, and attendees will be given different writing prompts which will push them to write in these various ways.

These workshop places can be purchased as a pair, or separately, with a variety of ticket options available to purchase, including concessions and a limited number of subsidised places. To purchase a ticket for both workshops please select one workshop pass in either of the workshops.

Durre Shahwar is a writer and AHRC-funded PhD Candidate in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. She is the co-editor of Gathering, an essay anthology of nature writing by women of colour (forthcoming 2024 with 404 Ink) and also the co-editor of Just So You Know (Parthian Books, 2020). Her work has appeared in WasafiriKnow Your Place: Essays on the Working Class (Dead Ink Books), We Shall Fight Until We Win (404 Ink), Welsh (Plural) (Repeater Books). Durre is the co-founder of ‘Where I’m Coming From’, an open mic collective that platformed underrepresented writers in Wales. She is currently a Future Wales Fellow, looking at the impact of climate change on everyday life through writing and art. Durre is working on her first book of narrative non-fiction about language, belonging, and identity as a Pakistani-Welsh person, a sample of which was shortlisted and highly commended for the Morley Lit Prize 2022. 

You can read Durre Shahwar's 'The Golden Books', first published in Wasafiri 112: Reimagining Education, which is available to purchase in the Wasafiri shop.
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