Ms. Nan Phifer

Oregon, United States

Member Since: 04/24/2013

“I was one of those teachers who come to school with a passel of ideas and tricks that open the most closed, reluctant writer.  Before he realized anything was happening, he was scrawling his feelings onto paper, writing persuasive tirades, dramatic scripts, and even explosive free verse.  Realizing that I taught the conventions of writing in unconventional ways, I enrolled in a summer institute for teachers, the Oregon Writing Project, where I found my strategies supported by findings of researchers at the U. C., Berkeley.  I was effective because I was by nature an aware, intuitive teacher.  I had fun with my students.

            “My desire to teach memoir-writing sprang from my own participation in a writers’ group.  I saw how I could apply my techniques to guide mature people who wanted to write about their lives.  I knew how to take them into the essence of themselves, how to find and tap into their most meaningful moments, how to convey their very souls.  That’s why I call my book Memoirs of the Soul instead of Memoirs of the Ego.  Most would-be memoirists assume they should start by writing about where and when they were born and plod along, fact after fact.  I take a different approach. 

            “I prepared a handout for each workshop—and one day I realized I had the chapters of a book.  All the instructions had been field-tested, and participants even allowed me to use excerpts from their writings as illustrations.  When I retired from teaching at a college, I didn’t retire from teaching for I was already leading workshops.  I do that because I love it.  I love the moments when a writer’s eyes light with insight.  I love the moments when, glowing with accomplishment, they present copies of their memoirs to me.”



  • Memoirs of the Soul: A Writing Guide , Writers Digest Books & Ingot Press (2002)


  • Best Writing-Publishing Book, Reader Views(2012)
  • Winner "Top Ten Reads"


  • "resident scholar!" at Oregon Writing Project, U. of O. (June 2012 - )


  • Master of Arts in Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University (January 1966)

Genres of Interest

Creative nonfiction