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Each time I sit down to write a memoir essay or work on my book I have to fight off the Critic Dragon screaming, “Who cares about your piddly life?” If you are a memoir writer, or considering writing a memoir, you may have the same Critic Dragon breathing fire at your keyboard.
Guess what? Even though your life experience may seem unique, many others are going through similar experiences and challenges. Your perspective just may help them get through it.
“But there are already so many books about (abuse, divorce, trauma, recovery—whatever).”
Remember this: No one has written about the experience the way you will. James Jones, Norman Mailer, Tim O’Brien—and scores of others have written about war, and no two books are alike.… Read more
You know, it’s hard to figure out what to share here, and I know self promotion is rampant and I am as tired of it as you are, but sometimes I get emails from people who have found my book, #Replacement Child, and I am so moved I want to tell you all about it. Just this morning, I got this email from a woman in Ireland who found my book referenced online. This kind of email is why I wrote the book, and why I am glad I did.
I have just ordered your book and can’t wait to read it.… Read more
When I began writing my memoir, Replacement Child, I struggled to find the right voice for the story. I experimented with a child’s voice; then explored it through my mother’s eyes, my sister’s and most revealing to me, my father’s viewpoint. At the time, I felt like I was spinning my wheels and wasting precious time. But, looking back, none of that writing was wasted, even though most never found its way into the final version of the book. All of it was necessary to help me discover the style that I felt best relayed my story.
If you think of voice as it pertains to other art forms, it’s what sets the artist apart from others.… Read more
Recently, I had a discussion with my friend Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers, about how writing our memoirs had given us both new perspectives on our relationships with our mothers. Ours were very different journeys, but what resonated in our discussion was how the writing brought clarity, understanding and forgiveness. We thought we would try to capture that conversation here in honor of Mother’s Day.
Some of us get to know our mothers better after they have passed from this life, through writing about them. It can be one of the benefits of writing a memoir, that we gain a unique insight from mining our life experience through a writerly lens.
Writing, by necessity, makes us take notice of the details surrounding an event or a meaningful moment in our lives. Sometimes the writing helps us see the significance in a conversation, or the scar left by a parent’s action or inaction. This was certainly the case as I wrote the chapters for my memoir Replacement Child.… Read more