TRY SOME HOSPITALITY, I always say, and when I do, the students in my memoir class frequently look a little stunned. They’re not in the room to learn etiquette, after all, so why would I mention the h-word? Simple: You cannot write memoir without it. Or didn’t you know that? It’s one of the many tactics I describe in my new book, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. A little more on hospitality, and a chance to win one of six copies in a giveaway this week with two memoirist “sisters:”
I’m talking about being hospitable to your work, and that begins with taking notes. To do so, you need to get in the habit of carrying an index card in each pocket. That way, you can capture what you see, hear and remember. This does not require an expensive digital recorder, leather notebook or Cartier pen. That’s showing off. Being hospitable begins with the tools you need for writing what you know—index cards, notebooks, pens—and then paying attention to the goods, the scenes from your life you will choose among to illustrate your argument.
Argument, you say? Hold the phone. Can we be hospitable and still argue?
We can, and we must.
Consider the work of the women with whom I am running this book giveaway, Katrina Kenison and Margaret Roach. Both accomplished memoirists, they each have an argument, both of which are revealed from the moment you read their books’ titles. Katrina’s great memoir, The Gift of An Ordinary Day, and Margaret’s gorgeous And I Shall Have Some Peace There, both argue for the ability to find happiness, peace, and even some great provocation, right in your own back yard. Just like Dorothy’s red shoes, these writers both argue in their books, you already possess what you need to thrive. The gift is to see it that way. Would you like to see their arguments in a beautiful format? Katrina’s video is a fine, joyful persuasion to embrace her train of thought; Margaret’s book trailer conveys her argument beautifully.
And what a fine argument it is.
How to learn to find an argument worth making amid the enormous story that is your life?
Well, I said be hospitable, but I’m not going to give it all away away here. For more, I hope you’ll read my new book.
How to Win 1 of 6 Copies of
The Memoir Project
MARGARET, KATRINA AND I are each giving away two copies of my new book The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, and all you have to do to win is comment, answering the question:
What memoir that you have read mattered to you, and why?
Copy and paste your comment onto all three of our blogs to triple your chances of winning—again, each of us has two copies to share, and we’ll all draw winners at random (using the tool at random dot org) after entries close at midnight Saturday, June 18.
- On Margaret’s book blog.
- And on Katrina Kenison’s, author of “The Gift of an Ordinary Day,” whose message has been heard not just in print but by nearly 1.6 million YouTube viewers so far.
Now we are pretty flexible, we three, so even if you don’t want to name a book, or have a title but not a reason why, that’s OK. Simply say, “I want to win,” or “Count me in” or some such, and your entry will be official. But remember: copy and paste it on all three blogs at the links bulleted above. Good luck! (And we can’t wait to see the booklist you help generate with your replies.)