Tag Archives: writing memoir

The Idea of a Memoir (Part One)

A writer & her sentimental muse

Photo Credit: Princeton Public Library

The idea or writing a memoir keeps coming to mind time and time again.  Why should I write one?  Who would want to hear my story anyway? And, what the heck the difference between a memoir and autobiography?

I found this that proved quite helpful:

Photo Credit: Susan Calder

And to break it down to the actual characteristics of a memoir:

Photo Credit: Linkedin Slideshare (Click on image for original source)

My next challenge is whatto write about.   So much has happened over the course of my life, I don’t even know where to begin.  I went to my Twitter and started to browse through my tweets for the last year or so and I discovered two tweets where I managed to condense my life down to six words:

Unraveled by losses; rebuilt by love.

———————————–

Life. Just tears in the rain.

The word…

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Why i wrote a memoir

Nancy Chadwick, Memoir Writer

1st Day

One August afternoon in 1967, Mom dressed me in a navy dress, patterned in tiny white polka dots, with an appliqué of paintbrushes and an artist’s palette in primary colors at the hem, and a white Peter Pan collar around my neck. White anklet socked feet, fitting snuggly into blood-red Mary Janes, anchored my chubby legs. While standing at attention in front of my house’s picture window with my feet together and my hands folded in front, I posed with my heels brushing against the yellow marigolds in full bloom under a toasty blanket of Indian summer sun. My birch tree buddy stood tall and arabesque in front of me, extending its tree branches in effort to shield me from the sun. I was present in those moments as I stood before my house and my tree waiting for my picture to be taken. Life was good.

This was my…

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Memoir: From Reality to Reality

Laughing Penguins

A memoir is often seen as a single-dimensional ‘truth’ about a writer, the writer’s self-expression or confession. A memoir, in in fact, is the writer’s perception of truth, and her need to express that perception in her chosen format.

And so, a memoir is the writer’s journey from reality of lived experience to the reality of ‘worded’ impressions.

There are things in a writer’s life that present themselves unasked, uninvited, right there at her desk; then there are moments that demand the writer’s focused attention to reveal themselves; finally there are faraway wraiths of memories that desperately seek writerly resolve, and vital emotional effort to divulge their core and deepest essence. This is the truth; so is that; and so is that.

On the other side, a reader of a memoir fixes her gaze on a single familiar face: this is what she thought, this is where she ate and…

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9 Things That Make Your Memoir a Great One

writtenwrong

There are a variety of things that readers and writers alike would say about great non-fiction and memoir writing. Here are nine that I feel best encompass what makes these stories so great.

  1. Honesty. Your audience wants to know the good and the bad. That means some of your darkest secrets or embarrassing moments may be revealed. Sharing your imperfections is a great way to open your audience up to their own, creating a deeper connection. Make sure as you recollect the adventures you have experienced, use the simplest moments alongside the biggest moments and make them feel like the day to day life you actually live.
  2. Humor. Speaking of moments, we all have ridiculous things happening to us on a regular basis. I for one am known for my uncontrollable laughter. Even when we tell stories that someone doesn’t laugh at, it can spark something inside of…

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Untangling the Messes: How Much Truth to Put in the Memoir?

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” ― Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

yarn tangled and in a neat ball

Near-death motorcycle accident at 17, cervical cancer diagnosed at 19, hysterectomy at 23, drug addict by age 30; does any of that sound familiar? Probably not, and so I’d lose readers before they even picked up the book.

Memoir must contain more than the events or even the highlights of that life; there has to be similarities in the readers’ lives in order to touch them and keep them reading.

This is where each writer finds their theme -that distinct, but unifying idea of the writing, because universal themes transcend gender, age, and race.

“It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives…

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Finding Theme

 

This strategy works especially well for writing memoir also.

The Taming of the Muse

About two and a half years ago I went to a writer’s workshop taught by Kelly Sue DeConnick.  I talk about that workshop a lot, because it pretty much changed my life.  I had been writing for as long as I could remember, but that workshop was the first time I really started to see how stories are made.  She also said she often starts with characters, which leads to plot, which leads to theme.  

Not everyone writes this way of course. In both novels and comics, there are great writers out there that start with plot, or theme, and work at it from another angle.

Do what works for you.  If you are not sure what that is, play with with different ways of approaching a story.

This is what works for me, most of the time:

I start with character, sometimes I have a plot or backstory…

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