December 17, 2017

Archives for 2012

The Narrative Voice

What’s wonderful about the decision to write memoir is the clear choice you face when deciding who’s going to narrate your book. It’s you! No need to weigh between first person and third person. You lived it and it’s your story. There is a decision to make, however, between the two narrative voices you have at your disposal when you dive in and start to write your scenes. These are what Sue William Silverman aptly calls the “Voice of Innocence” and the “Voice of Experience.” You make use of the … [Read more...]

From Starting your Memoir Journey to the Muddy Middle–And Onward!

  What a joy it has been this month teaching people how to get started writing their memoir! There's nothing like over a dozen people with stories they want to capture and publish to create an amazing vortex of energy. We feel that teaching gives us great gifts as well. Each story and person needs focused answers for their specific problems. We learn about the stumbling blocks that get in the way--from overwhelm to worries about family reactions.  We learn about people with stories that go back … [Read more...]

Research and Memoir

Research is directly linked to truth in memoir. Many memoirists feel they need more facts in order to start; in order to keep going; in order to finish. I have worked with writers who are convinced they need to interview family members to get their take on what really happened. I have worked with writers who have decided they can’t or won’t write until they find that one particular journal (which they can’t find, of course) that captures the essence of 1973 in all its intensity. I have worked … [Read more...]

Three Stages of Memoir Writing

    When you write a memoir, the journey will change you. There is no way that we can encounter art, the imagination, and our inner psyches without being changed by the experience. And just like any journey, it shifts our perspective on life and on ourselves. You will not be the same person who began the journey.   As poet T. S. Eliot wrote in his wonderful poem “Four Quartets” You are not the same people who left that station Or who will arrive at any terminus. … [Read more...]

Begin your Memoir by Mining Your Memories

  Writers often struggle with the issue of memory: do I have enough memories to write a memoir? Are my memories “correct?” Do I have a right to remember things the way I do even if people disagree with me. There’s no such thing as correct memory, Memory is about perception and interpretation. Everyone’s view of an event is like a slice of pie—each section looks toward the middle from a different angle. Everyone in a family would write a different memoir—if they dared! The first step in … [Read more...]

Strategies for Handling Scope in Memoir

Many writers come to their memoirs with so much information, back story, and details about their lives that the prospect of narrowing down their scope or even knowing where to begin can feel daunting and elusive. When it’s your own story, it’s tough to be objective, so it’s important to determine as early as possible whether you have a chronologically-driven or thematically-driven narrative. The first is simpler to execute. Your story unfolds on a timeline, and you need to be careful not to … [Read more...]

The What, Why, and How of Memoir Writing

What is a Memoir? A memoir is a blend of real and imaginary, it’s a story that reads like fiction but it’s based on real happenings, feelings, and people. It’s understood these days that a memoir is “the truth” written as accurately as possible, and the fact that your story is true carries weight. Readers grab onto a true story in a powerful way because they identify with the real people who are the “characters” in a memoir. We identify with characters in fiction, too, and we also learn from … [Read more...]

Give Yourself Permission

Linda Joy and I talk incessantly about permission-giving when it comes to writing memoir. It’s one of the most important things writers of memoir need to allow themselves in order to write. Many writers who want to write memoir find themselves stuck right out the gate, grappling with voices both internal and external: Who gives you the right to write that? What if that’s not how it really happened? You’re not supposed to talk about your family that way. We’ve both heard these messages and … [Read more...]

Write Your Book in Six Months becomes Write Your Memoir in Six Months

Linda Joy and I are pleased to announce that we are refining our course to be memoir-specific. After much good feedback and a general sense of feeling more aligned to our passion of serving memoirists, we have reconceptualized the course to be tailored specifically to memoirists and the unique challenges that they face. And we couldn’t be happier. Linda Joy, founder and president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, has been a tireless advocate of the power of memoir to heal and give … [Read more...]

Repurpose and Conquer

In preparation for Write Your Book in Six Months, I’m doing my own challenge---writing my own book in six months, with the goal of being finished by July 1. And has it ever been a challenge! There are a million reasons it’s hard to write, a hundred priorities that take precedent over the day-to-day writing, and more than enough excuses as to why writers don’t stay on track of their writing goals. Much more rare, and therefore more valuable and important, are the strategies that keep us … [Read more...]