My first synchronous online memoir writing course

photo of boy wearing yellow shirt while using an imac

Shhhh….can you keep a secret? You can? Great! Here it is. I’ve finally signed up for a full-fledged memoir writing course!

Granted this memoir course was completely online, but it’s done synchronously every week for eight weeks. And that for me, is a first.

I know I know.

As my faithful blog follower (errr…you are, right?), you know I’ve been dishing out advice on (memoir) writing for quite a while now. And saying I’ve attended online writing courses that gave me the “right to preach” about writing.

So am I now saying I’ve been a fraud all this while?!

Heavens no!

All those I’ve previously completed were one-off recorded courses, mostly because I couldn’t attend them live due to time zone differences. Nearly all last for a mere 90 to 120 minutes while a few are recorded over a few episodes, each lasting about 15 to 30 minutes or so.

But not this one. This one will last 120 minutes every week for eight weeks!

Okay, so why am I joining such a weekly course now after all this time? And why am I talking about it here?

Unfolding my memoir writing journey

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Photo by Leah Kelley on

First of all, I’ve been itching to connect with a local writing community, but it’s not exactly easy.

I am, after all, a hopeless introvert and it’s a lot harder to connect when you’re not in the same physical space. As the rest of the world has learned since Covid, online engagements aren’t all it’s cracked up to be in the long run.

But if your trainer hails from the opposite end of the world, then invariably such courses will have to take place online. Unless you want to pay through your nose to fly over!

That’s also why it’s taken me this long to sign up. I so much prefer that whole face-to-face class lesson interactivity.

Still, Father Time has finally worn me down. I realize that since there are so few such courses within reach, should I forget it altogether or press on?

So this is me saying I’ve decided to press on and sign up, even though it’s an online course and not face-to-face.

Secondly, and more importantly, I think it’s time for me to start ‘road-testing’ parts of my debut and (therefore) vomity draft memoir to a group of peers and of course a trained (and preferably established) published author.

Starting with what you’re about to read below, an excerpt from my draft memoir (though names have been changed to protect the….oh you know the spiel by now!).

It’s the first time I’m sharing it with you, my loyal readers! So tell me what you think ok?

[Whisper: Pssst…fun fact: it’s currently poised to be the prelude to my memoir]

What were you thinking?!” (an excerpt from my draft memoir)

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Photo by fauxels on

Ever had a deep and nagging feeling something was about to happen? Something big and impactful?

That feeling came to senior consultant Joshua Tan one fateful afternoon in Singapore. 

Joshua’s boss Bernard Wee was running their weekly team meetings, going through each team member’s project items and getting much-needed business updates. 

The company provides training and consultancy advice for clients in social and digital media strategies. The advice ranges from setting up media monitoring systems to deep-diving into how internal and external social media communications can be improved. The clients were typically those keen to build and maintain a strong digital and social media presence in the marketplace.

Being a small outfit without its own office space, the team normally works remotely. So weekly face-to-face meetings were critical to catching one another up on what was happening with various clients. They were also used to discuss trends in the industry, as well as new project opportunities to pursue. 

Initially, such meetings took place at any one of the countless Starbucks or Coffee Bean outlets in town. 

In the past few months, though, after bringing in an equity partner, with her own company office located just outside the central business district — in a new row of commercial townhouses set in luscious greenery by the river — Bernard was able to borrow the use of the office to more comfortably run meetings.

Joshua appreciated the change

Joshua appreciated the change.

After joining the firm a year ago, and drinking one too many cups of Starbucks latte, the chance to attend meetings at a proper business address was definitely a step up for him. As was his decision last year to leave the predictable confines of academia. Having been a lecturer for over a decade, Joshua had felt it was time to spread his wings and take a step back into the commercial world. 

He had hoped to switch up the pace and be on the cusp of everything innovative in the world of digital and social media.

And he did get his wish. 

Client meetings. Closing deals. Delivering results. Not to mention running all over the country for what felt like one endless hustle after another to meet top executives and generate more business.

In fact, this job was proving of late to be more than he had bargained for! 

So returning to these weekly team meetings felt like a welcome respite from the mad caper that was the rest of his week.

For all intents and purposes, this team meeting was no different from before, despite its new location.

On this day, Joshua was to report on the latest in the emerging world of A.I. and to coordinate a training workshop about it soon.  

At one point during the meeting though, Joshua had a momentary flash, like a warning beacon in his head. 

A feeling that something very wrong was about to happen.

The feeling was akin to the chill one feels when a sudden gusty wind blows out of nowhere. Or the lump in the pit of your stomach when the doctor still hasn’t returned with your MRI results.

Sure enough, the moment came

Sure enough, the moment came when Joshua’s supervisor Natalie Chua asked a seemingly-innocent question.

“Josh, have we confirmed the actual date and guest speakers for the A.I. training workshop?”

“No. I’ve only received confirmation from two of the four invited speakers.”

You could have sliced the atmosphere at the meeting table with a blunt knife. Everyone in the room was suddenly busy looking at their own laptops and client reports. The meeting room now felt more like a firing squad to Joshua. 

And he was the guilty prisoner that had just been shoved onto the line of fire!

With an eyebrow uncharacteristically raised, Natalie asked: “What? Isn’t the workshop happening about a month from now? Why haven’t the speakers been confirmed?” 

Before Joshua could respond, the next shot came, this time from the head of the table. It was of course the big boss Bernard – at machine gun speed!

“Are you kidding Josh? You can’t market a workshop when the speaker line-up hasn’t been firmed up! What were you thinking?!! This is unacceptable!”

If a hole had suddenly appeared under his feet that instant, Joshua would have gladly dived in and never come up for air!

He scrambled to find an answer to assuage his increasingly belligerent bosses. 

There were pressing deadlines that week. The media report was due tomorrow and that was keeping him busy. His assistant was on maternity leave.

Somehow, though, every one of those reasons sounded hollow in Joshua’s head.

Joshua was not to know that what just happened, would change him in ways both unexpected and irreversible. That he, and his fortunes, would be forever altered. 


2 thoughts on “My first synchronous online memoir writing course

  1. Woop woop! The best thing we can invest in is ourselves, and it seems like you’re going down an exciting path with this new class. The prelude looks promising too. I hope the course helps clarify what you want to do with your memoir, or at the very least, gives you a fun time!

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