Memoir Writing: The Empty Nest

IMG_2098I HAD THE PEANUT BUTTER. The large-mouth jar of chunky. I had the spoon. The soup spoon, to be specific, the logic being the more peanut butter at once, the better. I had chosen well from Netflix and had them all cued up: Three weeks of tear-jerking, slobberingly family-oriented dramas that would make we wail and writhe. The heating pad was arranged on the couch before we left, as was the therapeutic pillow and the down comforter, all ready for my return from when we dropped her off for her first year of college. All I had to do was walk in, drop my bags, grab the peanut butter and we’d be set. [Read more...]

How To Master Memoir Writing. Consider a Low-Residency MFA

mfa_el_rainbowIS GETTING AN MFA in Creative Writing a dream of yours? Did you know that it can more easily be fulfilled at a low-residency program, where on-campus time can be as little as a few days in each calendar year? Several of my friends have recently completed such degrees, including two of whom have full-time jobs that allowed for this brief on-campus study and allowed them to do the rest of the writing at home. Sounds pretty good, yes? [Read more...]

Embracing the Therapy of Memoir Writing

Source: The Library of Congress

Source: The Library of Congress

MEMOIR WRITING IS THERAPEUTIC. Or so I’ve been told at least once in every one of the hundreds of memoir writing classes I’ve taught. And I agree. Most of the time I draw the line at it being therapy, however, preferring to keep the discussions to what is on the page and not to what happened next in life. However, there is no denying that for some populations, memoir writing is both therapeutic as well as a form of therapy. Such is the case with the many memoir writing classes for patients of Alzheimer’s disease, the stories from which have taught me to embrace the therapy of memoir writing. Here to write about one of these classes is the author Anne Decker, who leads one such group. [Read more...]

Writing Lessons: Getting Help Writing Memoir

cover_paperback.inddGETTING HELP WRITING MEMOIR can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. So why not make it simple? Help is sometimes as close as a sibling who offers to read your work. That is what happened with Sheila Johnson, author of the memoir, My Father, In Snow, when her brother asked her to dig out a book she had written years before and let him see it to publication. Lucky for me, Kevin emailed me and we began the process of getting this book in shape for the market. Just out, I think it is a marvel of a book. [Read more...]

What to Read: A New Memoir from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

9780804179072WHEN NEW YORK SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND decided to write a memoir, she apparently knew a solid thing or two about the genre. She knew that memoir was not about me – or, in this case, her – that it was about something else, and that she was the illustration of that idea. She knew that writing a memoir well required writing from one area of your expertise at a time. She knew that having an argument was essential to making a readable book, and that the structure of that book was based on that argument and, perhaps of the greatest importance, she knew that the actual writing makes or breaks a book. In short, she knew it all, and the result is a fine memoir. [Read more...]

Writing Lessons: How to Write Someone Else’s Story

cover front of the bookWRITING SOMEONE ELSE’S STORY is always a difficult assignment. How, for instance, do you achieve the voice of the other, and how much of your own can seep in? These were some of the questions put before Marvin Rapp who, with his wife, Lori, has run a Jerusalem popular bake shop and catering company for more than 20 years. Their new book was written by Marvin in Lori’s voice and is as delightful to read as the recipes within it are delicious to taste. Entitled Secrets from Lori Rapp’s Kitchen, the book has achieved nightstand status in my house, as I read and laugh, plan and peruse and go to bed each night hungrier than I’d prefer. I asked Marvin to discuss the secrets of how to write someone else’s story. Here is the result.  [Read more...]