What We Learn When Writing a Memoir

Terry Baker Mulligan

Recently, when a neighbor’s son started medical school, he told me he would have to learn 15,000 new words in the next four years. What I found most interesting was that as a college graduate, his vocabulary already consisted of approximately 15,000 words.

UnknownAlthough I don’t have a precise number of new terms, skills or techniques I mastered during my memoir writing process, I mention this young man’s experience because it reminds me of the steep learning curve I climbed while writing my book.

Most people take a few years, maybe even ten, to write a book. My memoir, Sugar Hill Where the Sun Rises Over Harlem describes growing up in Harlem from approximately 1952-1962. I first started working on the book in 1974 when my memory of Harlem’s mid-century transitions, and mine, was still vivid. I finally finished it in 2011. Sugar Hill was published in 2012.

That’s exceedingly…

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