Although it is seldom painless, the process of composing can be more focused and productive when writers know their subject well. As writers and teachers of writing, we recognize that clear voices and strong purpose evolve more surely when the text addresses familiar material. But successful autobiographical writing is never merely anecdotal, self-absorbed, or trivial: developing an appropriate range of voice and audience demands the discipline to make public what is private, to reexamine remembrances polished smooth with recounting, to laugh at ourselves, to resist easy or sentimental conclusions. In short, writing forms of the personal essay calls for our best creative efforts. Student will read various examples of autobiographical writing (e.g., essays of E. B. White, Joan Didion, Carol Bly, Garrison Keillor, Curtis Harnack) and will write and revise five personal essays. The class will work regularly with strategies of composition, organization, and stylistic revision.