November 18, 2017

Truth, Exposure, and the Reason We Write Memoir

Recently I had the privilege of moderating a panel at the Bay Area Book Festival. The panel was titled “Why Write Memoir: A Conversation about Truth, Exposure, and the Genre People Love to Hate.” The title shows a perfect combination of the issues that memoir writers struggle with. In every workshop and class I teach, the conversation that brings the most questions and angst has to do with writing the truth, feeling "too exposed," and writing material that seems to attract pointed criticisms: … [Read more...]

The Narrator of your Memoir

When you read a book, a nearly invisible narrator is guiding you through the text—helping you to focus on the important things in your story. The narrator guides you through the action and setting, and guides you to understand the psychology of the characters, goals, conflicts, and themes being explored. Through the narrator, you learn what’s at stake—what the tensions and conflicts in the story are, even if they’re internal. The narrator translates and interprets an action by offering a … [Read more...]

Your Memoir as a Movie

Do you love movies? To me, there’s nothing so satisfying as sitting down to immerse myself in a new story. The first few moments need to capture my attention so I can’t look away. I make sure my tea is nearby, and that my kitties are ready to settle down on my lap. Once the kitties are there, I won’t be getting up for at least an hour or more as the story weaves its magic around me. It grabs me with a scene, in a moment where I’m drawn into a world not my own. I’m inside the scene, inside the … [Read more...]

15 Tips for Mining Your Memories

  Memoirs are woven from memories, but many memoirists I talk to wonder if they have enough memories, or if their memories are “correct.” The important thing is to understand that memories can't be measured or proven correct. What you remember is your raw material for creating your memoir--and there are a lot of ways to enhance your memories. It can be helpful to do "research"-- to gather with others and share memories around the table, to pore over family photo albums, reminiscing and … [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...]

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...]

Memoir Writing Tips | Your Journey to MemoirLand

  Memoir is a very popular genre right now, one that draws people from all ages and all levels of experience. It's truly a grass roots movement about the passion to tell and share our stories. When we write a memoir, we embark upon a journey—to the land of memory, to the heart of who we are and were, to the past, and to discovery--of aspects of ourselves, of new insights into our family and the times. We honor those we loved, and we name things that were never named. The memoir becomes an … [Read more...]