Writing Memoirs

Advice to Everyone: Begin

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this memoir I’m working on. Thinking about a new structure for it, how the current one isn’t working, where it begins and where it should end, what flashbacks are needed and where they should go. I think about it before I go to sleep and at 3:00 am…

Bursts of Memory

I’m writing a memoir (at the “just take notes” stage), and here’s the most useful thing that I’ve read lately. It comes from Philip Galanes’ interview with Jimmy Carter and the writer Jacqueline Woodson in last Sunday’s New York Times. Memories don’t come back as straight narrative. They come back in little bursts with white…

A Monday Morning Gift

A gift for you this morning:  the link to Kate Gale’s blog.  https://kategale.wordpress.com Kate is managing editor of Red Hen Press, as well as a poet, teacher, traveler, family person, bon vivant, blogger etc. She herself once said action is her default; she’s a force of nature, really smart, funny and has a talent for…

What Writers Write About

We write about what we're most interested in, what we're thinking about, what we love, what we obsess on, and what we're doing. I'm sure this is as true for you as it is for me. And on that note let me introduce you to my new subject: a house. A very charming house that…

Why Stories Are Precious

Your stories, my stories, everybody's stories are important because whether memoir, personal essays or fiction other peoples stories can shine a light on our own lives. I learn this over and over when I teach. In my new class yesterday, Advanced Non-fiction at the Writers' Program at UCLA Extension, I hear about twelve new memoirs…

Dangerous Writing

My book proposal for A Year of Writing Dangerously: Memoir, Autobiography & Personal Essays is out looking for a publisher, and meanwhile (as I chew my fingers to the bone) I thought I might post some excerpts from it. The idea for the book came in part from writing this blog and from your interest…

“A Tricky Process”: Writing Memoir

How to impose a narrative arc on a messy life?  That’s what all of us who want to write memoir or personal essays struggle with. For a fascinating and illuminating slant on the subject check out this link to an essay about writing memoir by Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of the memoir Boy Alone.  Plus…

Thinking About Memoir

       If you want to write memoir and don’t have a copy of Abigail Thomas’s Thinking About Memoir, order a copy immediately. It’s small book (108 pages) packed with advice, wit, and writing exercises.   My UCLA Extension spring course started last week and here’s an exercise we did based on the opening line…

Consequences of Faking a Memoir

Another scandal has hit the literary world.  In case you haven’t read the Tuesday newspapers, here’s the gist of the plot.  Love and Consequences, a memoir by Margaret B. Jones, aka Margaret Seltzer, has been recalled and the book tour that was to start this week cancelled.  The author claimed to have been a foster…