You must not resist writing a more personal memoir. You want to write your memoir, but you resist getting too personal, going in too deep. Your guarded secret that you wanted to have your own business one day or your hope that your father would apologize eventually for his denigration of you—this has happened and […]
Tag Archives | make the memoir more meaningful
Are You Holding Back the Hard Truth in Your Memoir?
Your memoir needs the hard truth about life—your life—and sometimes that requires exposing yourself, getting “naked.”
I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt…. we have to know all we can about each other and we have to be willing to go naked.—Mary Sarton
Wow, going around naked! Gulp! (Better hit the gym!)
But, I guess you get the idea—psychologically and emotionally naked. Your memoir needs truth telling about life—yours—and sometimes that requires exposing yourself, getting “naked.”
I would like to change the metaphor a bit, to use a metaphor that is less startling but very graphic nonetheless. It is the metaphor of the kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bowl.
I love popcorn and enjoy eating it but there always comes a moment when I get to the bottom of the bowl and the plethora of corn kernels that have been popped into delightful puffy bites gives way to the hard half-popped or not-popped-at-all kernels. These are not fun to eat. Disappointed, I walk to the trash and throw the kernels away. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
Perhaps you’ve been writing a memoir for your family and friends. The composition started off easily enough. You jotted a few memories and passed the stories out. People started saying you ought to write a book, but you were doubtful no one else but family and friends would be interested. For a long while you were satisfied creating your book for a small audience and then it occurred to you you that you were writing with a theme that might interest a larger audience. Perhaps, you wondered, if there was something in your lifestory that could address a larger audience of strangers. Or…
Perhaps from the get-go, you had a sense that, while this story of yours is personal, there was something in it that certainly could interest a larger audience.
While family and friends are always a worthy readership for your memoir, it is possible to reach an even larger audience.
“But, how to do that?” you ask. “What’s the magic bullet?”
Well, I don’t have a magic bullet but I do have a few suggestions to help you reach beyond a small circle. Below are four suggestions to empower your story to appeal to a broader public. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
One of the writing process steps is to linger with your story. Many, and perhaps most, people write too fast. I don’t mean that they end up with a text characterized by sloppy grammar, spelling problems and chronology issues—although that may be the case, of course.
No, what I mean is that they push through the process of writing their stories much too quickly. They end up with only a part of the story they could have written had they lingered. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
People who are writing a memoir will sometimes say, “I want to write my stories but I have forgotten so many details. Is there any way I can get them back? Should I use writing prompts?”
There is one tool above all others that makes the experience of life writing successful. That tool is not a writing prompt: it is the Memory List. No other exercise opens up the process of life writing as quickly and as surely as the thoughtful and thorough compilation of such a list. It’s simple, and as a first step, it’s crucial.
Let me tell you about the Memory List (a general term for your list of memories).
Is your family one of the many whose history is at risk for getting lost to future generations because no one has written it down? Here is a clear focus for writign a memoir Writing your lifestories—even just a few—is a great way to memorialize your family and to keep the experience of your life—and […]
That our memoir is insignificant is about the last thing we memoir writers ever want to read about our magnum opus. How do we write a significant memoir? What separates a significant memoir from an insignificant one? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not fame it’s not the scope of the arena of the action. […]
Point of view in a memoir can cause a major problem
In 1996 and 1997, I composed about 200 pages of a memoir of my high school years and then it wasn’t going anywhere more than where it had been—mired in facts and details with no spirit.
I merely stored it in various computers for years.
In the fall of 2013, I completed my mother’s memoir (We Were Not Spoiled). Because I was looking for a writing project I might devote myself to next, I picked up the high-school memoir. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
The following is the third installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I wrote about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I wrote about the orphan and the martyr. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.
In the first installment of Your life as a Myth I wrote about the martyr archetype and in the second installment, I wrote about the orphan and the prince-left-at-the-pauper’s-door. Today, I will offer you some practical suggestions for implementing the concept of archetypes in your memoir writing.
Writing from the perspective of personal myths can explain a lot about the stories you are recording. In addition, consciously living archetypes in your own life and turning them into positive forces is a rewarding path for self-growth. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
The following is the second installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In the first part of Your Life as a Myth, I wrote about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In today’s post, I write about the orphan and the prince-left-at-the-pauper’s-door. Both frequently make appearances in a memoir. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.
What is the orphan archetype?
One example of myths and archetypes is the orphan. People who do not develop or maintain personal ties can be said to be pursuing the orphan archetype. Artists are an example of the positive side of this archetype. Because many artists feel detached from roots, family, etc., they are free to tell the truth as they see it, to risk much in the pursuit of their art. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]