How to choose the right story to tell? It’s a great question, and one that plagues every memoirist. But it’s the essential question, because if I could pinpoint the one common problem of all memoir writers, it would be the rush to tell us too much. So choose. How? I suggest you start here, reading this fine post by C. A. Wittman, as well as the excerpt from her new book, Synanon Kid. See how she faced the issue of choosing, what she did and how she wrote her wonderful book. [Read more…]
LEARNING HOW TO WRITE AND PUBLISH A BOOK includes understanding both what to do and, of course, what not to do. And while I have given many lists to you on the topic of what to do, I frequently forget to discuss the “do not” side of things. So when memoirist Virginia Simpson proposed a list of the proven tips to ensure you never write a book, I was all over it. Why? Virginia Simpson is the author of the award-winning and beautiful memoir, The Space Between, a perfect read for all of us right now. But read this list first. It is written for you. Yes, I do mean you. [Read more…]
GETTING PUBLISHED IN AN ANTHOLOGY is something I regularly recommend as a goal to my memoir coaching clients. It’s a joy to see your piece of memoir included in a book, of course, but the work to get included in an anthology can also be one of great collaboration and learning, during which a writer can absorb an education about writing and editing to theme and space. Such is the case for Dan New, a friend and student, whose experience with the just-published anthology, The Weight of My Armor, will inspire you to consider getting your own work into an anthology.
I’m going to let him tell it in this guest post, but not before I say that there are few feelings I know as deeply moving as seeing in print something I first read in one of my classes. I remember exactly what I felt when I first read his essay, The Trip Home. The wonder has only increased over time. Seeing it in print in this fine new book is an almost inexpressible joy for me.
First, though, here is Dan’s answer to my question of how his inclusion in this marvelous new book came about. Following, with the kind permission from his publisher, is The Trip Home. [Read more…]
FINDING OUR TRUE SELVES may be one of life’s great journeys, but writing from that place is among the hardest assignments I know. How to write from your true self, and not the one you wished you were, or one who is smarter, wittier or anything else-er? I asked an expert. Let me introduce you to Michele Cushatt, whose new book is just out. [Read more…]
HOW TO BEGIN A MEMOIR rattles most writers, though perhaps none more than those who had eccentric childhoods. When growing up amid the crazy or quirky stuff of life, competing, vivid images provide a virtual funhouse of choices and can leave the writer more than a little stuck for what to write first. It’s at times like these that we should defer to an expert, and in terms of both having an eccentric childhood and being a fine writer, few people can compete with Tanya Ward Goodman. I caught up with her a few years ago, after her remarkable book, Leaving Tinkertown, was named to several best-of lists for 2013. I thought maybe it was time to revisit this interview, this being the start of a new writing year. In a word, the book is perfect. So meet — or re-meet — Tanya. She’ll get you going. [Read more…]
WRITING ADVICE IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. I know, I am a memoir coach, and I treat each of the problems of my clients as if they are my own. The truth is that we all need someone to whom to pitch our stuff, listen to our drafts and be invested in our success. That is the first thing I tell every young writer. I met Sarah Corday through my coaching business and, it turns out, I was not the only writer she listened to. She also follows the advice of the inimitable Nora Ephron, one of the truly greats, whose writing lives on despite her tragic death. My writing advice? Listen to Nora whenever you can. But right now, listen to Sarah, whose new book I just got in mail. [Read more…]