The Memoir Network http://thememoirnetwork.com Resources to Help You to Write (and Finish!) Your Memoir Tue, 22 Apr 2014 23:27:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Discovering My New Homehttp://thememoirnetwork.com/discovering-new-home/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/discovering-new-home/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:58:26 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9987 This is an excerpt from a memoir I am thinking of calling either In Another Century or A Very Catholic Boy. I am 13, and in the previous excerpt, I have just arrived at the seminary high school where I will be living. The excerpt starts as I have brought my trunk up to the dormitory and we exit the room. I am with my parents, my grandmother my brother and two sisters. All the people in the story are bilingual.

Discovering My New Home

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This is an excerpt from a memoir I am thinking of calling either In Another Century or A Very Catholic Boy. I am 13. In the first published excerpt, it is still summer and I am thinking of what it will be like to leave home for the seminary. In the previous excerpt, I had just arrived at the seminary high school where I will be living. This excerpt starts as I have brought my trunk up to the dormitory and are about to leave the room. I am with my parents, my grandmother my brother and two sisters. All the people in the story are bilingual.

We walked down the three flights and through the réfectoire, a low-ceilinged room with rows of formica-top dining tables abutting the two long walls. There we waited for my grandmother to catch up to us and then together we went out through the lobby into the chapel, a high-ceilinged, rectangular room with long, plain, colored-glass windows on either side of the nave. Although the walls were constructed of cinder block, it was wood that commanded our attention. The pews, the window frames, the beams on the ceiling, the communion rail, the altar, the baldachin above the altar, and the statuary itself were blond pine and oak. Because it was September 1960, the altar faced away from the congregation—the Second Vatican Council had not yet convened; we still prayed in a church whose rituals seemed to date to the beginning of time. Mass was said in a Latin that evoked centuries of tradition and something beyond the little circle of our lives.

My mother and my mémère genuflected—my mémère’s a shallow gesture conceded to the pleas of stiff knees—and entered a row of seats. There they crossed themselves and closed their eyes. I followed suit—prayer was after all what I had come here in part to do—and the others entered pews, too. On my knees, I asked for help to be worthy to persevere in my vocation if this was what God wanted. From outside, I could hear the rumble of cars starting and doors slamming, and there were sounds of voices, with those of children rising.
My mother got to her feet, and as if given a signal, we got up, too.

C’est beau,” my grandmother whispered appreciatively, clutching my arm for what seemed support.

We returned to the lobby and followed another family down narrow stairs to the recreation room. Windows on the east side opened out to a narrow wooded area beyond which was the town of Bucksport and its houses. The rec room, with many pool and ping-pong tables, ran beneath the length and width of the chapel. There were boys playing pool with their fathers—I had never played with my father and did not know if he knew how to play, but I certainly didn’t. There were priests talking to other parents, and I realized that soon I would know these men well.

Would I like them? Would they like me?

We walked through the rec room to the locker room where all kinds of boys—thin boys and fat boys, tall boys and short boys, boys who were clearly boys and boys who looked like young men—were pulling things out of trunks and suit-cases and filling tall, narrow lockers. The room was a mess, but it felt exciting to be in this clutter. For the first time, I had an inkling of the kinship I would feel with the boys I saw around me and knew we were all here together at the beginning of something that was not only important in life but important in our lives.
We followed a flow of people into the basement of the classroom building we were always to call the classique.

The seminary buildings seemed huge and labyrinthine to me who had gone to a four-room grammar school. I was excited but I was also filled with enough dread that I couldn’t give what I was walking though all my attention. My parents, my grandmother, my brother and my sisters would leave soon. Was I ready to see them go and would I be all right when they left without me? In spite of telling myself I wanted to be there more than anything (how could I be so sure at 13!), I feared the moment when I would find myself alone with strangers.

We looked into the small gym on the basement floor of the classique. Its floor was marked with lines, and there was  a balcony along three of the walls. There was no weight equipment in sight. The gym  did not interest me as I was not familiar with gyms—there was none at St. Bernadette and no one I knew went to gyms or had spoken to me about what one does in  a gym—and I could not imagine what I could do there that would bring me pleasure or be satisfying. We went up the wide back stairs. At this time of year, the view from the two lower floors was only of a playing field and a few small houses, but on the third floor landing, we could see the St. Regis Paper Company whose smoke stacks rose above the town. We exited the stairwell through double doors into a large hallway. This hallway opened up on the area where our car was parked. Just a moment ago, we had been on the third floor and now, by walking cross a hallway, we were on the ground floor! For the first time, I realized the classique was built into a slope.

There were three large, well-painted classrooms on that level and a small one. A boy wearing a cross pointed out the two First-Form classrooms, and we peered into them. They were large rooms with high ceilings. Each held thirty desks with plenty of space around the edges. These seemed like serious classrooms—certainly in much better condition than Lisbon High School which my eighth-grade classmates were already attending, where I would have gone, had I not chosen the seminary.

My mother and Mémère commented on how clean everything was. I looked around with “clean” in mind. Yes, it was all very clean and orderly.

Slowly, so that my grandmother could follow, we went up the wooden staircase that ran on the opposite side of the building from the stairs we had previously ascended. These front stairs groaned and creaked beneath our feet as we made our way up to a mezzanine. From there, we looked out on our car in the oval gravel drive and on the statue of Saint Joseph, and then we continued our ascent. On the fourth floor, the auditorium had seats, a boy told us, recently purchased from a movie theater that had closed in town. Through the auditorium windows, as almost everywhere around the classique, we saw tall pines that towered above the school and created a wall of green.

Mémère kept recalling how things were similar to or different from the seminary that her Lucien had attended in the thirties. My mother kept stating how I would like this or that, how I would be happy there, and I tended to think that I would be. My father, silent, observant, deferring to the opinion of women in such matters, seemed to concur.

After inspecting the third-from classroom and the science lab, we wandered down the front stairs again, my grandmother holding the railing firmly, nursing her arthritic knees as she lifted a foot and slowly lowered it on the next step and repeated the process with the other foot. Finally, down to the second (from the back) floor, we walked down a hallway and left the classique and entered the connector addition that had been completed recently—in 1956.
We stood in the library. Its walls were of the same cinderblocks as the chapel and, like the chapel, it had the feel of wood. The bookshelves lining the four walls, the long tables filling the center of the room as well as the chairs pushed against them were of blond wood. The many windows opened out on trees on both the east and south side. The room was flooded with light from the south. All around us were books. This was a room, I hoped, rightly as it turned out, where I would spend a lot of time.

As she had all afternoon, my grandmother gripped my arm—for support, I thought then, but I think now because she would miss me.  Mémère had lived upstairs from us on the farm in Lisbon Falls for ten years. When I was born, my parents were living with her and my grandfather so it was to her house that my mother had brought me from the hospital. Mémère had seen me and my siblings grow up and she was very attached to us—to me especially, I realize now,  because in many ways we were similar persons.

What must it have seemed like to her who had never learned to read well in her own language to have a grandson who was about to enter a book-filled experience in two languages? She must have sensed that this would take me far beyond her world. How could she not have a sense of loss despite her pride in me? How could she not have sensed that it would make me into a different sort of person than she was? Perhaps that too is why she clung to me.

“He’s going to love this room,” my mother was exclaiming to Father Houle, the librarian, who stood near her with a stack of school books he was distributing. He said that we did not buy most of our schoolbooks but only had the use of them. That must have pleased my father who always had expenses on his mind.

My mother turned to me. “You’re just going to love this room, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I replied simply because I had been thinking that very thought. Still, I felt as if she were pulling it out of me, as if I had to feel what she felt. It was going to be the last time in months that I would have this familiar interaction with my mother—her demand, my reluctant assent.

Discovering My New Home

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How Memoir Professionals Can Meet Income Goals.http://thememoirnetwork.com/memoir-professionals-pay-attention-to-income-goals/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/memoir-professionals-pay-attention-to-income-goals/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:00:06 +0000 http://turningmemories.wordpress.com/?p=146 Meeting your income goals will keep you in the Memoir Conversation. to earn sufficient income from memoir work to continue doing it, you must consistently and carefully pay attention to income goals

How Memoir Professionals Can Meet Income Goals.

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Meeting your income goals will keep you in the Memoir Conversation.

Helping people write a memoir is a great activity. I should know: I have been doing it since 1988. Since 1996, I have made memoir professional packages available to people who want to teach memoir writing.

The people who seek out the packages are lovely people. Many are retired and do not need to earn income, but others are not retired and may have family to support and expenses to meet.

Here is what I say to them: to earn sufficient income from memoir work to continue doing it, you must consistently and carefully pay attention to income goals.

Set annual, quarterly and monthly income goals.

Create and schedule memoir programs in pursuit of those goals. In your programs, you must not compromise quality, otherwise your word-of-mouth referrals will decline and your program drop-out rate will increase. Concurrent with assuring program quality, you must also push for greater fiscal responsibility. Each product must generate its share–and more–of the income you need to meet your income goals–and ideally exceed them.

As unreasonable and counter-productive as it may seem, many personal historians are reluctant to charge appropriately for their work. This may come from some belief that to care for others we must abandon caring for ourselves. Or, charging to care for someone  is an indication of lack of real caring on our part.

Nurture your income goals

The fact is that, if you do not nurture your income and meet your income goals, you will eventually be out of business and therefore unable to help and care for others. Next year, if you want to be available to work with people to preserve their personal and family stories, you must nurture your income–this is part of running a small business. Without satisfactory income, you will eventually quit memoir work.

The Memoir Professional Package

The Memoir Professional Package contains hundreds of pages of manuals, numerous MP3s, e-books, consultations.

EXERCISE
Examine your relationship to profit by keeping a money journal. Write for at least two pages at every sitting and do this exercise at least five to seven times in the next month. Become sensitive to your relationship to money and to profit by examining it regularly. Keeping looking for what attitudes and behaviors you need to change to help your bottom line.

Good luck tracking your income!

The Memoir Network’s Memoir Professional Package is the only such jumpstart program available anywhere at any price. “I knew the MPP would be chock full of info,” said one buyer, “but I had no idea it had this much!” Are you ready to get serious about presenting memoir workshops in your community. Send me my package immediately. I am ready to start.

How Memoir Professionals Can Meet Income Goals.

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Kate Christensen talks about writing Blue Plate Special / An Autobiography of My Appetites and about writing in general.http://thememoirnetwork.com/blue-plate-special-autobiography-appetites/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/blue-plate-special-autobiography-appetites/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:47:15 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9969 In her memoir, novelist Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man and the The Astral Hotel, has undertaken to organize her lifestory around food. It is an interesting concept, a theme, around which to make sense of a lifetime. If the memoir is, as Rainer Maria Rilke said of poetry, a momentary order, then Kate Christensen has done just that.

Kate Christensen talks about writing Blue Plate Special / An Autobiography of My Appetites and about writing in general.

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In her memoir, novelist Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man and the The Astral Hotel,  has undertaken to organize her lifestory around food. It is an interesting concept, a theme, around which to make sense of a lifetime. If the memoir is, as Rainer Maria Rilke said of poetry, a momentary order, then Kate Christensen has done just that.

“Kate Christensen always remembers what she ate, what was served, what was cooked, what she cooked, what it tasted like,” reads the book jacket. “…much of her life, she describes herself as being ‘a hungry lonely wild animal looking for happiness and stability.’ Having found them at long last, she finally feels able to write about her search.”

An Appetite for Writing

Perhaps more telling for me is the commitment to story telling that runs through Kate’s lifestory. In that sense, writing is perhaps the greatest of her appetites exposed in Blue Plate Special—the food being a metaphor for that urge to write. I had the great pleasure of both hearing her in person when she this in January 2014 at Bates, College in Lewiston, Maine, and then to interview her for the second month of the Master Memoir Writer. The interview is included as the featured author of the second month.

“I wake up thinking of writing,” she shares on the Month Two’s featured MP3, “And I don’t feel good until I have written my quota for the day.” She goes on to say that she will do anything to avoid the feeling of going to bed knowing that she was not faithful to her writing. “It’s an awful feeling those day when I don’t write.” Elsewhere in this blog I have labeled that as “showing up to write.”

No showing up, no writing. It can be as simple as that.

How to handle discouragement

When I asked if she ever deals with discouragement, which I know is a plague to many memoir writers reading these pages, she shared that she deals with her discouragement by writing. “In order to get a book done, you have to come to it every day, you have to keep the ‘lava’ warm. Otherwise it hardens and fights you and it takes days to get back to the writing.”

Distance Needed

“You can’t both write a memoir and be in it at the same time” There needs to be some distance between the experience of life and the lifewriting. How else to get perspective? “Every day, I would leave my daily life behind to visit the past and then I would return to my daily life, carrying with me the dark stories from the past.” How well we all know this!

Kate Christensen is the author of six novels. In 2008, she won the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her bog is katechristensen.wordpress.com. She lives in Portand, Maine.

The Memoir Network

How to Write your memoir this year

 

You can become a member of the Memoir Master Writer at any time. A special six-month membership is available at a 33% savings. Every month, informative, motivational MP3s come to you along with a variety of e-books and report and shorter MP3. Stay in the memoir conversation.

 

 

 

Kate Christensen talks about writing Blue Plate Special / An Autobiography of My Appetites and about writing in general.

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Is theme important?http://thememoirnetwork.com/theme-influences-everything/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/theme-influences-everything/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:45:29 +0000 http://turningmemories.wordpress.com/?p=217 Theme influences choices for every element in the story: plot development, characterization, and setting. Is theme important. You bet it is!

Is theme important?

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Theme influences choices for every element in the story: plot development, characterization, and setting.

Let’s look at these elements. Here’s the shell of the plot: your father was laid off; a difficult time followed for the family; your father received additional training and obtained a different job.

Your treatment of this plot will vary according to your theme.

Let’s suppose the following is your theme: “events whose consequences we can’t understand happen gratuitously to us in our lives, but we can always make the best of things.” In the elaboration of this particular theme (message), you will find it natural to set your father’s being laid off not only with his reaction at the time but also with its consequences. Because of your positive theme, you will write about the new circumstances that developed for your father and about his psychological growth (character). To develop your theme, you will show how important it was for him to “roll with the punches,” to allow himself to experience being without the identity his job and his role as family provider had furnished, and, ultimately, to exercise choices that led to new, satisfying pursuits. So much for one plot development.

A different theme calls for a different treatment.

Now imagine that your theme (obviously based on different insights) had been: “life deals each of us gratuitous, unwarranted dirty tricks and my father was no exception.” In this story, you would emphasize the role other people played in your father’s being laid off and how no one helped him. You would dwell on the negative elements–how the economic demands made on him by his children left him with few choices, how his insufficient education (due in turn to his parents, his ethnic group, etc.) limited his job options. You would probably undervalue the training that led to a different job and fail to acknowledge the psychological growth that he experienced as a result of training and his new job challenges.

Both of these plot developments would be based on the same facts, but the stories themselves would be very different because they are inspired by very different themes. As a writer, you must be aware that your theme (the message you seek to impart) affects the interpretation of every fact in your story. By conscious use of theme, you can make a story into your own distinct and unique account.

Is theme important? You bet it it!

Good luck writing your memoir.

For more on the use of theme in a memoir, listen to Theme in Memoir, an MP3, which is part

TheMemoirNetwork.com

Making your story bigger!

of our new collection of MP3s, Making the Story Bigger, Second Draft Work.

 

Is theme important?

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Are You Afraid of Similes and Metaphorshttp://thememoirnetwork.com/similes-metaphors/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/similes-metaphors/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:55:20 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9928 Don't be afraid of similes and metaphors. "I don't quite know how to describe what I'm feeling," you might say during your writing as you grope for a way to describe in words this emotion that is beyond words.

Are You Afraid of Similes and Metaphors

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Don’t be afraid of similes and metaphors.

“I don’t quite know how to describe what I’m feeling,” you might say during your writing as you grope for a way to describe in words this emotion that is beyond words.

There is a solution to this dilemma that writers often resort to—but one too many are sure they can’t handle. It is the use of metaphors, similes, images, and symbols. These will bring your text to a level beyond words.

1. A simile is a comparison that uses like or as.

When you say, “Life is like a merry-go-round”, you are making a simile—even if it’s not a terribly original one. It’s a simile, too, if you write, “I’m busy as a bee.” In a simile, because of the use of like and as, it is clear that the writer is making a comparison. here is an example:

My love is like the red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June, /My love is like the melody/That’s sweetly played in tune.

Robert Burn

2. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use like or as.

You make a metaphor when you say, “Life is a merry-go-round.” Metaphors are different from similes in that the comparison is a touch hidden. There is no like or as to cue the reader. Life, of course, isn’t really a merry-go-round—what you mean is that life is like a merry-go-round: it has speed, a sense of thrill, and fancy. And of course, you are not a bee— you are merely like a bee in your busy-ness”.

I hope Robert Burns will forgive me for altering his verses below but it’s done for the good of literature—your memoir. Had Burns omitted the word like he would have written a metaphor—but, of course, he did not.

 

My love is a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June, /My love is a melody/That’s sweetly played in tune.

Both similes and metaphors appropriate for one person, thing, or idea a quality that belongs to another. Robert Burns hoped that we would ascribe our feelings for the beauty and fragility of a red rose to love. (Isn’t love just as beautiful and fragile as the rose?)

Similes and metaphors “borrow” meaning from other words, but they clearly “borrow” just a portion of the meaning of the person, the thing, or the idea which is being compared to another. Like two gray circles that overlap only partially to create a darker area (the previous phrase is a part of a simile), similes and metaphors overlap only partially the meaning of the thing or person to which they are compared.

3. Similes and metaphors are not definitions of persons, things, or ideas.

They are different from definitions. Similes and metaphors are vague and so they are often used in clusters (often, writers stack a number of similes or metaphors before they feel they have achieved the effect they were striving for). Burns attempts to pinpoint his love one more time by writing later in the same poem, “My love is like a melody/Sweetly played in tune”. When the author adds this new simile to that of the red, red rose, he is attempting to create clearer meaning. Your writing, too, will require that you stack a number of similes and metaphors before you achieve the effect you are striving for.

Definitions are precise. When you write that a merry-go-round is a carousel, you are not saying that it is like a carousel; you are clearly stating that a merry-go-round is a carousel. You are defining the word merry-go-round. Unlike similes and metaphors that thrive on ambiguity, definitions thrive on clarity.

Similes and metaphors appeal to a poetic sense which accepts and appreciates without being judgmental and evaluative. They tap into our childlike relationship to the world. By including appropriate similes and metaphors, you will engage your reader in a way that circumvents the rational mind. Because of this, similes and metaphors are especially effective within lead paragraphs or for introducing characters.

EXERCISE

  • Keep a list of similes and metaphors that you have found while reading. This will make you much more aware of these devises and you may begin noticing how prevalent their use is in writing.
  • Take the similes and metaphors you have collected and change an element in each to experience how much each word contributes to a particular meaning the author is reaching for. For instance, had you written in your notebook “the sun was a flower over the city” you might transform it into “the sun was a guardian over the city” or “the sun was a canopy over the city”. How are each of these similar or different in the meaning they suggest?

TheMemoirNetwork.com

Making your story better!

For more on similes and metaphors for the memoir writer, listen to Similes and Metaphors, an MP3, which is part of our new collection of MP3s, Making the Story Bigger, Second Draft Work.

Are You Afraid of Similes and Metaphors

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The Memoir Writer’s Blog—a Successful Blog?http://thememoirnetwork.com/successful-blog/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/successful-blog/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 18:44:25 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9923 This post is the 300th on my blog. I am amazed at the number. I realize that other blogs have more posts but even so, 300 is an achievement. I want to honor that I have been writing my own posts and curating guest posts for a while now and have achieved this constancy—300 posts. If that makes for a successful blog, then I have done it.

The Memoir Writer’s Blog—a Successful Blog?

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This post is the 300th on The Memoir Writer’s Blog. I am amazed at the number. I realize that other blogs have more posts but even so, 300 archived posts is an achievement. I want to honor that I have been writing my own posts and curating guest posts for a while now and have achieved this constancy—300 posts. If that makes for a successful blog, then I have done it. but…

I like to think that a successful blog does not depend only on its numbers but on its quality. I hope you have found the article to be meaningful and useful.

My initial attempt at blogging

When I began to blog, it was without understanding much about its potential and about how to organize it. I saw that others were doing it. (I had even read that blogs were on the decline—that was one wrong assessment on somebody’s part.) I started placing a few posts. This was very irregularly beginning in 2010—so irregular that it was perhaps at the rate of a one or two a month. A sort of stepchild in my memoir conversation with you. The results were that the blog did indeed seem as if it were not worth much. I wasn’t putting much into it and not getting much out of it. It was not what you would call  a successful blog.

Committing to creating a successful blog

Then in the spring of 2013, I made a decision to commit to the blog. At first, I was posting at the rate of 2 or 3 per week. I had done an effort in 2009 and 2010 to post articles on ezinearticles.com and, in 2010-21011, with the help of a marketing assistant, I began to transfer the articles from there to The Memoir Writer’s Blog and to do some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of each post. At some level, I enjoyed the public aspect of the work. An introvert by nature, I enjoyed this opportunity to put myself and my ideas “out there” without actually having to be “out there” in person. It could all be done from my office. I have transferred almost 100 of the posts from ezinearticles.com.

Over the year since i have taken the blog more seriously, that I have actively nurtured the blog, I have often asked myself what its feel or voice ought to be. I have asked the same question of the website. What do I engage in best that meets the needs of those readers who choose to follow me?

Steps I’ve taken to boost the blog

Mostly my 300 articles have been short pieces using an “X things you need to know about…” formula. I have refrained from writing longer pieces. I have also revved up my production to 4-6 posts per week and have added an 4 PM/ET communication to let the readers of my newsletter know there is a new post. These have been very successful in driving up the number of views of new posts. (It is the SEO ratings that drive new traffic to old posts.) If you came to this post via a search engine, you can subscribe to the newsletter for free and receive update of posts. The newsletter comes with the free Basic Membership in The Memoir Network. Sign up today.

Your suggestions are eagerly sought

I am curious to read if you have any suggestions for me as I pursue publishing my second 300 posts to make this a successful blog.  Would you like:

  • more of the how-to informative articles
  • additional emphasis on guest posts
  • excerpts from memoirs
  • informal “from the editor’s desk” sort of articles
  • longer articles but published less frequently
  • a change in the frequency. Tell me which frequency.

Respond below, and I will take all your suggestions into consideration and, if necessary, eagerly enter into dialog with you.

Keep reading the posts. I have not run out of things to say—by a long shot! And, if you agree these posts are useful in the memoir-writing process—please—let your social network contacts know of the good work we are doing here.

 

The Memoir Writer’s Blog—a Successful Blog?

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3 Benefits of Keeping a Journalhttp://thememoirnetwork.com/3-benefits-keeping-journal/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/3-benefits-keeping-journal/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:05:55 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9911 Keeping a journal can be a useful tool when you are writing your memoir. When keeping a regular journal, some people feel a release of energy they don't have in other writing forms.

3 Benefits of Keeping a Journal

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When keeping a journal—regular (even daily), some people feel a release of energy they don’t have in other writing forms. Because of that, journal keeping can be an important developmental experience for you both as a person and as a writer. Because the journal is private by definition, you can write in it without fear of how an audience might react. No one will ever see it. Not ever—unless you want them to!

Your journal is a kind of writing laboratory. Scientists use a laboratory to conduct experiments. They check what results from adding this to that, from changing relationships and quantities and sequences. Sometimes when the results are interesting and prove worth pursuing, they continue conducting experiments in similar areas, pairing these findings with those from other experiments.

1) Keeping a journal can be this sort of laboratory for your writing.

What if you record your dreams? What if you make lists? What if you do free associations of ideas? What if you recreate the past as you wish it had been? (Give yourself a commanding role!) Have everything turn out “the way it was supposed to!”

2) You can also experiment with various styles and techniques to record your feelings and perceptions.

What if you write only in long sentences? or only in short ones? Or never use the word I? Or use stream of consciousness (thoughts just as they come without any editing)?

3) A journal can be a tool to get around writer’s block.

Perhaps your writer’s block is due to being cramped by the emotional limits you have imposed on yourself. Use your journal as a place to break free to a more authentic you.

Keeping a journal can be a useful tool when you are writing your memoir. It will give you a place where you can experiment with your writing style, form new themes and associations, and help you find your way around writer’s block.

Good luck  keeping a journal and incorporating it into your memoir!

TheMemoirNetwork.comFor more on journaling for the memoir writer, listen to Journals and Memoirs, an MP3, which is part of our new collection of MP3s, Making the Story Bigger, Second Draft Work.

You may also want to visit Easy Journaling which offers an ebook on the topic and Center for Journal Therapy.

3 Benefits of Keeping a Journal

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How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 2http://thememoirnetwork.com/bill-andrews/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/bill-andrews/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:56:50 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9762 During WW2, the Japanese enslaved thousands of women to serve as prostitutes. I recently interviewed author William Andrews about his experience writing his recent novel, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story.

How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 2

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During WW2, the Japanese enslaved thousands of women to serve as prostitutes. I recently had the opportunity to interview author William Andrews about his experience writing his recent novel, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story. Last week, I published the first part of the interview and below I publish the second portion. If you have not read the first portion, it is a good idea to do so before reading the text below.

DL: You changed narrator in this book. You went from a third person to a first-person narrator. You went from a middle-aged man to a young woman. Can you talk to us about why you did that? What were some of the challenges you had?

BA: Yes, both of these changes—from third person to first; from father to granddaughter—really helped the book. Let me start with the second—changing the character. I first wrote the frame of the book (the book is written in a framed narrative or a story within a story) with the father of the adopted daughter as the narrator. Why? Because I was him. It was easy for me. Then I realized that the granddaughter had the most at stake in the story. By giving her the narrative, the frame had much more power, more emotion. It was more direct, more raw, more dramatic. It wasn’t nearly as easy to write, but it was way better.

As for switching from third to first person, that was a result of needing to give the narrative a better voice. Writers and agents and publishers and coaches talk about “voice” all the time, but it isn’t always clear what it is.  Well, to me, it’s a simple concept, but not easy to do. Voice is the personality of the narrator. Think about it. If you could have your comedy told by either a boring person, or by Robin Williams, who would you choose? Then again, you might not want Robin Williams to narrate your romance since the personality or voice of the narration must match the story. To get the voices right in Daughters of the Dragon, I changed the narration to first person. Once I did, the personality HAD to come through. The 20-year-old granddaughter said things like, “awesome” and “seriously?” and such. The 80-year-old Korean grandmother’s voice had to be deliberate and precise to match her personality. Structurally, it wasn’t all that hard to change, but really forced me to think about voice.

DL: Is there anything in particular that you would say that was the most difficult thing to do in this book? Was it research, plotting, point of view?

BA: A couple of things were challenging. First, the plotting. Note I use the word “plotting” broadly to mean the action, pacing, character development, and theme development all together. There are 5 “acts” in this book—the three historical acts make up 80% of the book and needed to be about the same length; the two present-day acts need to be subservient to the historical acts. Plus, I had many themes, several characters to develop, plot twists, etc. So, how did I do it? With a step sheet. Frankly, I couldn’t have done this book without one.

What’s a step sheet you ask?

DL: Oh, did I ask?

BA: It’s a spreadsheet with the chapters down the side and 12 columns across the top. The columns are: 1-chapter number; 2-date and time; 3-place; 4-POV character; 5-major action that happens; 6 through 9-major theme developments; 10+11-major character developments; 12-anything else I need to keep track of. I spent over 6 weeks on the step sheet alone before I began writing. It is the ONLY way I could control all these elements. And, of course, the step sheet is a living, breathing document. It changed nearly every day. But by having the discipline to work this way, the plotting, pace and developments really came together. I could see it in one look. I’ve been told by readers that the plotting and pacing in Daughters of the Dragon is excellent. I have the step sheet to thank for that.

Another difficulty was the research. I just had to do it. Remember that class you took your junior year in high school? It’s like that. Read, make notes, organize your thoughts, go to your writing, go back to the research when you need to, make notes, write—you get it.

Finally, I had a tough time with the brutality of the story. For example, I tried to write the rape scene in real time (inside the narrative), but it was just too hard on me and on the reader. I decided to pull it out to the frame and, while still hard, it was less brutal. You need to respect the reader and not beat them up too much. You can’t be gratuitous or insensitive. Yet, I wanted to tell the real story. A senior editor at Simon and Schuster rejected the book because he thought it was too graphic. I told my agent I could rewrite it. She asked me how the comfort woman who’s telling the story would describe what happened to her. I decided to keep it the way it was.

DL: I know that you worked with many different people in the writing of this book. For one you started with me, and I have to say that it was a great pleasure to work with you. You and I had some very good conversations. You were a very good listener, and you’re also a very good challenger. You didn’t accept everything I told you, but you did accept the necessity of interacting with everything—even if it meant that you would dismiss something that I told you. That was something that I respected very much in you and something that made our working together a pleasure. I know that you also worked with some other agents. Can you tell us about this experience of working with other people. What is it that you would tell readers of this blog about how they can help themselves if they work with an editor or agent.

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Daughters Of The Dragon

BA: Working with coaches and agents and publishers is a little like that dream you have when you see everyone in your world, but they aren’t where you are. It is one of the strangest states I’ve ever been in (since college anyway). Here I am, doing the hours of work, I have the passion, I have the insights to these characters and this story. But if you’re an AUTHOR and not just a writer, you’re writing for someone else. Let me restate: If you want to sell your work, you are writing for someone else. That being said, remember that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. You gotta keep the horse picture in focus. But if someone – especially a professional - says it isn’t working, they’re probably right. And this strange state is amplified by the fact that you don’t know how good you are. It’s the eternal question someone trying to get published has. Am I good enough? Well, you’re probably not as good as you think you are after you knock off that awesome chapter, (go back and read some of the stuff you wrote years earlier that you thought was so great) and you’re certainly not as good as you spouse says you are. You might be better than that hack who just sold 5 million copies (who, by the way, is a best selling AUTHOR, not just a writer), so you just gotta balance it all and keep everything in perspective. The pros will give you good insight to your writing, but they aren’t always right. And they agents are far too busy to help you. All I can say is, listen to them, keep working, but most importantly, keep learning. That’s the ticket. KEEP LEARNING!

DL: Now that you have completed Daughters of the Dragon and it is published, can you tell us what your future plans are?

BA: Starting this fall, I’ll be working on the loose sequel to Daughters of the Dragon about the life of Empress Myeongseong. First, I need to find research in English!!

Visit Bill’s website: williamandrewsbooks.com

How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 2

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6 Tips to Finding the Time to Write A Memoirhttp://thememoirnetwork.com/finding-time-write-memoir/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/finding-time-write-memoir/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:37:08 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9683 For many of us finding the time to write a memoir can be problem. There are so many things that seem to get in the way what with work, family, household chores, TV, social media, etc. So start by asking yourself whether all of these distractions are really just a way of avoiding getting down to writing.

6 Tips to Finding the Time to Write A Memoir

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The following is a guest post by  Chris Lightfoot. For information on how on how to post a guest blog on the Memoir Writer’s Blog, read our guidelines.

For many of us, finding the time to write a memoir can be challenge. There are so many things that seem to get in the way what with work, family, household chores, the lure of TV and of social media, etc. But…

Are all of these distractions really just a way of avoiding getting down to writing? If you are a new or inexperienced writer, you probably have some doubts about your ability to be a writer and so keeping yourself busy means you don’t have to confront your inner writing demon which feeds on your self doubt and taunts you with the specter of failure.

Give writing a go

If you really want to write, don’t let any of these doubts get in the way. You will never be a writer if you don’t give it a go. As with so many worthwhile pursuits in life, writing a memoir takes determination, commitment and practice.

So how do you go about fitting writing into your busy schedule? Well, here are a few tips which may help you with finding the time to write a memoir.

1. Less is more

You are not looking for a spare few hours. Just 15 or 20 minutes a day will get you into a writing routine which you will find much easier to maintain.

2. Pick a time of day to write that works for you

If you work best in the morning try getting up 15 or 30 minutes earlier before anyone else is around. If you are not a morning person look for another time in the day where you could squeeze in some writing – on the bus or train, during a lunch break, late at night when everyone else has gone to bed. Whatever time of the day or night you choose, stick to it. Make it a regular date on your calendar. Dating assures you are finding the time to write a memoir.

finding the time to write a memoir

finding the time to write a memoir

3. Don’t try to write too much

If you only wrote 175 words a day (about the length of my first three paragraph) for 5 days a week you would have 875 words by the end of the week and 45,500 words by the end of the year  (assuming you worked 52 weeks!). A perfectly acceptable length for a memoir.

4. Be prepared to give something up

Are there times of the day when you could be more productive – for example how much time do your spend watching TV, catching up on Facebook, trawling the internet? There seems to be more scope than ever for wasting time on computers (or whatever device(s) you habitually use) and so how about cutting down on some of these time-wasting activities and use the time saved to write your memoir.

5. Talk to other writers

If you don’t know any other writers join a local memoir writing group or search for an online writing community. Many other writers face exactly the same problems and time constraints as you and being able to share your fears and concerns will help you to keep going.

6. Write on the go

Just because you are doing something else doesn’t mean that your ideas and creativity stops flowing so always have a notebook on hand when you are out and about or a supply of post-it notes dotted around the house. You could also use the recording or note-writing features on your smart phone.

There are many ways of finding the time to write a memoir. Be creative with how you do it. And…

Keep writing.

 

 

6 Tips to Finding the Time to Write A Memoir

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5 Rules for More Profitable Memoir Writing Businesshttp://thememoirnetwork.com/better-memoir-writing-business/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/better-memoir-writing-business/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:55:41 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=1827 Run a Profitable Memoir-Writing Business Recently, while thinking about how to grow a business, I was jotting down some ideas about running a memoir-writing business–the what-do-I-know-now-that-I-wish-I-had-known-then sort of stuff. Here are the first five I came up with to help jumpstart my (and your) endeavor: 1. Create business goals. Many goals, goals in a chain […]

5 Rules for More Profitable Memoir Writing Business

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Run a Profitable Memoir-Writing Business

Recently, while thinking about how to grow a business, I was jotting down some ideas about running a memoir-writing business–the what-do-I-know-now-that-I-wish-I-had-known-then sort of stuff. Here are the first five I came up with to help jumpstart my (and your) endeavor:

1. Create business goals.

Many goals, goals in a chain of goals: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Endeavor to the best of your ability to meet those goals. Adjust your strategies regularly to fine-tune your access to those goals. Goals can be monetary, technical, emotional, but they are all related to your business. As much as possible, once formulated, make your goals non-negotiable. You must reach them for consistent business development.

2. Follow a business strategy plan.

Don’t ever wing it. Everyday you work you must work from a plan that is geared to that day’s goal and to the week’s and the month’s and the quarter’s and the year’s. Creativity is great for art but it is a killer for business. Day by day plodding wins the race to succeed at business.

3. Keep track of performance metrics.

Know your numbers. Money collected and owed, active subscriptions, how many people have registered for your programs and how many more do you need, what percentage of each open project is completed and how likely are the projects in development to be completed by the projected end date. Open projects are money sinks. Completed projects are marketable and so are potential moneymakers. Numbers are a guide to any business development

4. The 80/20 rule is always good!

That is, 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your clients and projects and programs. Conversely the remaining 80% of your clients, projects and programs will  produce only 20% of your income. So…be constantly evaluating your offerings and weed out the unprofitable 80%. The only exception? Something new that has not yet had sufficient marketing. Give it a deadline by which it either produces or it gets chucked out. (Remember: it is to your benefit to strangle your little darlings if they don’t perform.)

5. Lead generation must always win over product development.

The only exception: when you are just starting out and are still employed elsewhere and need to develop a product line. After that, lead generation is king! Creativity is for your artwork not for your business. Systems and consistency are essential for profitability.

Grow your memoir-writing business

I hope this helps you grow your memoir-writing business venture from a hobby to a money-making business.

Have you been working along the lines of these five suggestions? What are your own business “rules”? Please leave your comments below.

Memoir Professionals do well to acquire the Memoir Professional Package. In addition to the teaching materials, the Memoir Professional Package has an Editor’s Manual, a Speaker’s Manual and a Business Manual as well as an e-course geared to creating business success.  Comes with much writing material including the Memoir Start Up Package.

5 Rules for More Profitable Memoir Writing Business

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