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truth telling

Telling the Hard Truth in Your Memoir–Are You Holding Back?

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. ]

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writing about difficult times in a memoir

Writing About Difficult Times in a Memoir

Writing about difficult times in a memoir requires some fortitude.

Recently, in a store, I looked up to see a woman enter, a woman I had not seen in a few years. She was someone I knew from 40 years ago and, as we live in the same area, I continue to meet regularly . We spoke briefly, superficially as one does on meeting someone one has not seen in a while, and soon she asked me, “Do you know what happened to Ronnie (not her son’s real name)?” Well, I hadn’t, but her tone made me fearful. I sensed I was about to learn something bad.

“He died this summer. Of an aortic embolism.”

Ronnie was 44 and in apparent good health and one day he died!

Mary  and John (not their real names) had two children. This son who had just died and a daughter in frail health who lives in Arizona for its dry climate. They have no grandchildren.

What I remember vividly about Mary and John is that [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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motivation to write

What Motivates Me to Write

This post was sent to us with the wish that it remain anonymous. We are reprinting it with that wish intact. It is going under the byline of our staff but the writer is not on our staff. That was just the most expedient way to publish this.

I come back to my writing every day because I cannot stay away. It is how I process life. Writing helps me understand what has happened and how I feel about it. My dad’s Norwegian stoicism and our family’s isolation caused by his alcoholism prevented much communication with anybody, in or out of the family. I turned to writing to “talk” to someone. I wrote letters to any relatives and pen pals who would write back, and who I felt were my friends.

As I now write my memoirs, every memory I write about teaches me something new about myself and how I’ve become the person I am. When I started my memoir, I began to forgive myself for self-defeating behaviors I could not overcome. Re-living events buried for years has brought tears, but it has helped me let go and be a less fearful, ashamed and workaholic person. Writing is the best thing I do for myself.

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Frustration from writer's block?

3 Causes of “Writer’s Block”

Many writers suffer from writer’s block, yet few understand its possible causes. Memoir writing certainly has its difficulties which can create it, and not just writer’s block! There are a number of reasons that contribute to difficulty in writing. 1. In memoir writing, “writer’s block” can be the result of dealing with uncomfortable material. Perhaps you […]

Martha Blowen

Family Celebrates Thanksgiving with Sadness

Martha Blowen, my partner in life and in work, died on August 18, 2008, from metastasized breast cancer. The following is from collated excerpts of journals we both kept at the time.  (Before she passed away, she gave me permission to share her entries.) The memoir is called My Eye Fell Into the Soup, after […]

a cancer journal

Speaking to the Children About Cancer

For more in the My Eye Fell Into the Soup series, Click Here.   Speaking to the Children About Cancer November 12, Sunday Martha: My days since Thursday have been about sleeping and talking and crying. Just four days ago, everything I thought about my life was different. How life seems changed even though it […]

a cancer journal

Wanting to run away from Cancer

For other posts in the My Eye Fell Into the Soup series, Click Here. Wanting to Run Away From Cancer November 10, 2006 Denis: So very hard. Terror. Wanting to run away—but there’s no “where” to run to. Some of the office work must continue. It seems like such an irrelevant thing to do, but […]

a cancer journal

A Cancer Diagnosis

Martha Blowen, my partner in life and in work, died on August 18, 2008, from metastasized breast cancer. The following is from collated excerpts of journals we both kept at the time.  (Before she passed away, she gave me permission to share her entries.) The memoir is called My Eye Fell Into the Soup, after […]