Here are the show notes for Episode 3 of the podcast. You can find it on Itunes.
‘Memoirs and you…how memorable can you be?’
What is a memoir? It is a piece of your life, an arch a story with a beginning middle and end. An autobiography is your life from beginning to the last page. Autobiographies are often enormous, Memoirs are often more interesting.
My life is so interesting . . . I should write a book.
No, not it’s not.
No one’s life is all that interesting, fortunately we think our lives are fascinating but if you’ve ever listened to someone on their cell phone, you know not every has a claim to interest and excitement.
So why write a memoir if I just decided you aren’t that interesting? No one’s whole LIFE is interesting but you may have something that happened during your life that is true and has a story arc that would be worth sharing with readers and the public at large.
Or say you survived an interesting period of history in your area and you want to share that time with your children and grand child. That is a good reason to write.
What if you have family history to pass along? Please do, but not through all the genealogical research, write up the information in narrative, story form, or no one, not even your favorite grandchild, will read it. Oh they will say they will read it, but after you are gone, how are you going to know?
Some good, interesting memoir examples:
The Glass Castle: A Memoir , Jeannette Walls
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
Don’t lets go to the Dogs Tonight. Alexandra Fuller
These are good because they do not over analysis or even editorialize their own story, they do not give away the ending, even though you know the author survived if only to write they book.
Memoirists tell the truth as they remember it.
Here’s the trick with memory, what is really true?
Your childhood memories are probably very different than your siblings.
So you must just tell your story and leave your sister’s story to your sister to tell. And of course you know that the writers always win at this game. Whoever writes it down, owns the truth. Remember that.
As a contrast, what books are not good examples of good memoir writing?
A Million Little Pieces James Frey
Three cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
When you write about your past or childhood. Avoid blame and editorlizing. Just write what happened and what you felt at the time, not thirty years later in hindsight.
First, you lose the immediacy of the narrative and scene if you write from a high perspective and your work will become pedantic and boring.
Don’t be boring.
Choose one scene, one time and experiment. It took me a few tries and about 30,000 words before I realized I was REALLY BORING. I mean, startling, elaborately, unbelievably boring. I have a happy marriage and happy children and a mostly happy mother. Really, my husband’s siblings are all lovely people. See the problem? I have no problems.
Good memoir need more than just happy happy all the time. What was a difficult time for you? If you write about it will it help others? Is your story strong enough to build a platform on?
And if not, don’t panic, just make up stuff. That’s called fiction. And we can talk about that in another pod cast.
National Association of Memoir Writers
founded by With Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D. Who yes, needed a platform for her own book, Don’t Call Me Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother-Daughter Abandonment.
This is a great site for the budding memoirist. There are classes and workshops and resources as you move forward.
Prompting- Episode prompt. Feedback if any about the prompt from listeners.
Six word memoir
Original Not quite what I was planning
It all Changed in an Instant
I’m published in this issue:
Joined Rotary: beatnik parents mourn failure.
James Frey: So would you believe me anyway?
What part of your life does it represent?
Bring Out Your Dead– Listener submission/our own personal early piece of writing dredged up from the dust pile.
Piece written by Mac10 of the forums. Link to it here: http://www.newbiewriters.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=13085#p13085
Word of the week
calipygian adj. having shapely buttocks (circa 1800s)
Suggested use in a sentence:
Her calipygian couture and vixen voice were considered her best assets, particularly when it came to promoting Bodmin’s Back Bacon or the equally enticing Cold Comfort Cottage treatment for chapped hands in which a pair of lithe lamb chops figured prominently.
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