Memoir Writing Workshops

Instructor: Jean Ardell


Human beings have always told stories. In our frenetic 21st century, the memoir form continues to offer rich benefits to those willing to engage in it. Getting our stories on paper can help to make sense of our lives and origins, permitting us to view the past in fresh ways. If you’ve ever wished you knew more about your own grandparents’ lives, this course offers the opportunity to create for your grandchildren an invaluable record of family history, parts of which can help resolve old mysteries of behavior and choices.

You need not be a professional writer to pen a memoir and achieve satisfying results. During the sessions, we will encourage one another as we take on the challenge of writing our life stories. We will discuss and try out techniques of style that bring alive the stories only we can tell. Those who wish to do so can receive feedback by reading aloud from work written at home. The workshops provide a safe space for you to begin or continue crafting your memoir. 

About the instructor:

Jean Ardell grew up in New York City, the daughter of a mother who loved books and a father who loved baseball. As a result of her upbringing, literature and the game of baseball have informed her life.  Jean graduated with honors in English from the University of Southern California Master of Professional Writing program and has worked as a professional freelance writer in Orange County since 1989.  She won the Orange County Press Club’s 1994 award for Best Profile for the piece she did on author Dean Koontz, and was also been honored with the USA Today/Baseball Weekly Award for Baseball Research in 1999.  Her first book, Breaking Into Baseball:  Women and the National Pastime, was published in 2005 and made the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.  This year, Jean is celebrating the publication of her book Making My Pitch:  A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey, a story about the first woman to participate in professional baseball.  It is co-written with the book’s subject, Ila Jane Borders, and is now available at bookstores and online. 

Jean became a writer because stories demanded to be told -- of places, events, and people. She finds great satisfaction in working as an editor and teacher with others who seek to write their stories, and she has been teaching memoir writing courses for 20 years in places such as the University of California Extension at Irvine, the Blue Ribbon Schools Foundation, and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. Jean has come to understand that there is no ordinary life, and she believes that each of us has the power to bear witness to what it has taken to survive into adulthood, to struggle towards authenticity, and to record the dramas of our lives. 


  • Six Wednesday evenings: September 6th - October 11th
  • 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Location: Conference Room, Newport Beach Central Library
  • 1000 Avocado Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92660
  • Class is limited to 12 students
  • Tuition: $250
  • Info: or 949.717.3818