Recently, I received a question from a reader on the thorny issue of using the third person in memoir writing. It is a point so many writers ask that I thought of including my response in a blog post.
As readers of the blog know, I’m not a great fan of writing prompts. Sure, they get you to writing something and many will insist, “Writing something is better than writing nothing…”
Well I’m not so sure of that. Writing should matter. It’s hard work, and life is short. What’s better than nothing about writing some text on “the most fun things I did this summer?” as we sometimes had to in school. (No wonder we did not learn to write while in that context!)
Writing from insipid prompts is not much better than writing nothing—not if you are someone who is interested in writing “from the inside out” as I hope all readers of this newsletter are.
When I begin memoir editing with clients, I tell them that a proper editing requires three “read-throughs.” It is impossible to give a manuscript all the attention it deserves in one reading. Reading a manuscript without doing any specific editing and forming only a general impression has always seemed a good idea in theory, but I have not found a way to do so that is economical. I have therefore evolved this concept of read-throughs as a memoir editing technique.
Recalling the details of our life stories can be a challenge. Devising a Memory List is the first best thing you can do, but if you want additional ideas, here are five memory recall tips for remembering more than you might have thought possible.
Vignettes, scenes, and dialogues are at the core of any memoir—your memoir. Here are some ideas for writing them more quickly and elegantly. 1. Don’t stop to figure out how these snippets may eventually fit together into a story. These bits and pieces will accumulate as you recall more and more and continue to write […]
Is there a best place to start writing your memoir?
It’s a quandary: where do you start writing your memoir? Many people may say: from the beginning. But, I don’t think that is the best place to start composing.
The answer is actually quite simple: Start writing your memoir anywhere in the story.
In Franco-American New England, marching drill teams were popular. These teams were made up of girls who played instruments and marched in formation. Rhéa Ledoux was a team captain and she got to march in front of the other girls. The various drill teams would prepare elaborate sequences which they performed in parades—often in competition for a prize. Some of the local teams were very good.
When you are teaching a memoir workshop, easy is not always best. The teacher’s task is to help individuals to go through and beyond two kinds of barriers to their writing: the technical and the psychological blocks that keep them from success. Our job is to facilitate our participants’ arrival at a point where they are able to “own” their stories, to acknowledge their lifestories as they are and to accept themselves as they are.
The relationship you have with your ghostwriter or co-author is ultimately a working relationship. You can make it a success by applying these three suggestions.
Myths are stories that explain psychic processes. When you are writing a memoir, you are engaging in a profound psychic process of re-creating a personal myth. It is a wonderful experience but let the myths enlighten you as to the price you will have to pay.