What is Your Memoir Really About? With memoir, it can take some digging to get to the heart of what we’re really writing about. There’s the story of what happened, and then there’s the meaning we’ve attached to it. In memoir, it’s not enough to tell us what happened—we need to know what that event meant to you. To help with that clarity, here’s an exercise I did with a recent class at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. “Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events; it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the larger sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.” Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story […]
How Long Does it Really Take to Write a Book?
This is Part 2 of a 3-Part Series: What I Wish I’d Known Then. (Click here if you missed Part 1: Don’t Give Away Your Power) In my Memoir Mastery class this week, we’ve been talking about expectations. A lot of times, folks think that writing a book will be easier than it is. We simply don’t know what’s involved and how long it’ll take. And if you’ve seen those Write Your Book in a Weekend programs, that’ll create its own unrealistic expectations. On the other end of the spectrum are the literary/academic folks, who think it’ll take years and years to perfect the craft of creating a perfect book. More on that in a sec. Let’s start with the Write a Book in a Weekend camp first. Is it really possible to write a book in a short period of time? It […]
Perspective, Timing and Trust in Memoir
Memoir is a powerful thing. We love reading stories of love, loss and transformation. True stories are powerful. They inspire us on a deeply personal level. As Brene Brown says, we’re hardwired for story. It’s how we learn. Writing a memoir, though, can be challenging. Where do you start? How do you narrow down your story? How do you shape it? How do you navigate the emotional terrain of delving into the heart of who you are? And what do you do when the initial excitement wears off and you find yourself in the mucky middle of writing a book? How do you get back on track? Here’s the truth: writing a memoir is a journey. Trust and perseverance are critical parts of the process. So are craft and technique. Structure, accountability and encouragement are also important. A consistent writing practice is what […]