By following the five steps, you can get unstuck and get your story told.
How to write memoir with Marion Roach Smith, author and teacher
By following the five steps, you can get unstuck and get your story told.
WHAT DOES A WRITER DO? Well, someone named Dave Johnson keeps sending me emails telling me about employers in my area who are looking for people like me, and it got me thinking about what I do, particularly after the most recent job offerings included graphic artist, an SEO content and marketing manager, administrative assistant in media and housekeeping supervisor. Well, yeah, Dave, I am all of those things. In fact, I need to be, as does anyone who wants to successfully answer the call of how to become a writer, particularly one who works at home (thus, the housekeeping expertise, of course). [Read more…]
LEARNING HOW TO WRITE MEMOIR begins with knowing what to read. And specifically, this means reading really well, since reading bad memoir won’t help you a bit. But I also strongly suggest reading fiction and interviews, as well as reviews, especially good critics on television, movies and theater — you know, those people you see at the theater with the reporter’s notebook in their laps. You might wonder why I emphasize the last items – the reviews. Why? Because in any good critique of art will include a discussion of “What is this about?” that dreaded question all editors ask of their writers, all writing coaches ask of their clients, and all writing teachers ask of their students. [Read more…]
HOW TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR KIDS is a classic dilemma for many memoir writers. It’s one of the questions I get asked all the time in my classes and personal memoir coaching. And since I have a kid, and I’ve written about her, I really do get how tricky it can be. I mean, you don’t want to make them crazy, right? I remember well the day my daughter told me I had to stop writing about her. It was hard, but I agreed. Kind of (you notice I’m writing about her now, right?). It may happen to you. You, too may be forbidden, so until then, let’s get writing about our kids, shall we? [Read more…]
THE DILEMMA DU JOUR is what to write next. At least it is for me. In fact, the dilemma of the day, every day, is what to write next, isn’t it? And this from someone who lives with a time grid on her wall, the argument for her current writing project also stuck on that wall, and a high quotient of writing students and clients who follow her advice. Yes: I admit it. I, too, struggle daily with what to write next. [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…]
MY FOUR FAVORITE RECENT MEMOIR are all by women. However, they could not possibly be more different – the women and the books – except that they are all truth-telling, with strong voices, fine reporting skills and terrific writing. These are the new memoir to read, people, so get to your bookstore now. [Read more…]
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May, 12 2017
Hurricanes Finally Get Named for Men, As Well
It was on this day in 1978 that hurricanes also were named for men. Previously named only for women, this seems like justice, however late. What’s in a name? My sister has something to say about that, named as she is, for a racehorse. I told this story on NPR’s All Things Considered. Have a look.
May, 16 2017
It’s Fiddlehead time. Fiddlehead ferns that is, sold and eaten while they are still rolled up. Fiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of a young fern harvested for food consumption. Called a fiddlehead because it resembles the curled ornamentation (called a scroll) on the end of a stringed instrument, such as a fiddle, it is It is also called a crozier since it also resembles the curved staff used by bishops, which has its origins in the shepherd’s crook. Got some food memoir? I lap it up, and write it down here.
May, 23 2017
The Father of Taxomony is Born
On this day in 1707 was the birth of Carl Linneaus, the man who created order out of chaos by creating a classification system for naming and identifying plants. I created one of those, though mine divides by people, asking if you are either a burger or a burrito. Check it out.
May, 27 2017
Rachel Carson’s Birthday
On this day in 1907 was the birth of Rachel Carson, one of the greatest advocates the earth will ever know. The New Yorker magazine took a chance on her, first publishing her in 1951 and in 1962 serializing Silent Spring, in which she took on the subject of the ravaging effects of pesticides. The book is still regarded as the cornerstone of the new environmentalism. She inspires me, and I might write a piece of memoir about reading that book or what she has meant to me. You? What creative inspiration does she provoke in you?
May, 28 2017
The Sierra Club is Founded
On this day in 1892, the Sierra Club was founded, making it America’s oldest environmental organization. Today, the Sierra Club has chapters throughout the United States and Canada that offer opportunities for local involvement, activism and outings. Begun in San Francisco by John Muir, America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, today the Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members across the country and is affiliated with the Sierra Club of Canada. Their mission: To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives. Today they are not only the oldest, but also America’s largest, most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, they are 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. Check them out at http://www.sierraclub.org/
May, 29 2017
Wisconsin Becomes the 30th State
On this day in 1848, Wisconsin became the thirtieth state admitted to the Union. The “Badger State” was the last state formed in its entirety from the Northwest Territory. Live in Wisconsin? Have you visited and have a story you want to tell? Plan it, write it and send it along to your local public radio station or newspaper.
May, 31 2017
The Man Whose Name Went on a Dish is Born
On this day in 1852 was the birth of someone whose name you learned in 8th grade biology but whose life you may know little about. It’s Richard Julius Petri, German physician and bacteriologist, remembered for his name given to the Petri dish. This is a shallow, cylindrical dish made of plastic or glass with a cover, used for tissue cultures and to hold solid media for culturing and sub-culturing bacteria. In his later days he got a little full of himself, and had put on just enough weight so you’d notice it, and took to dressing in the uniform of chief army doctor whenever the opportunity presented itself. This prompted one observer to remark – and take note if you are dressing to impress – that the sash around his protuberant abdomen reminded him of the equator around the globe.