I’m happy to announce that I’m speaking for Nina Amir’s Nonfiction Writers University March 17, 3 PM PST. I’m focusing on one of the most challenging parts of writing a memoir: the Muddy Middle!
The Muddy Middle—this is where you wrestle with truth, the inner critic, family and how to bring a focus and universal message to your story. Here is where your healing and transformational journey deepens and you find yourself exploring the larger territory of your story and your life.
During this teleseminar, you will learn about these issues:
• You find out that you’re writing a healing memoir after all.
• You’re starting to see new perspectives on the past and how you want to tell the story.
• Truth—you have been wrestling with it alone, and now you’re doing it for a memoir? Yikes.
• Family—what will they say; will they cast you into the darkness?
• The inner critic—what if it’s right?
• The now narrator—you were feeling brave and wanted to share your knowledge about life…but now?
• You make surprising discoveries—that are not so comfortable.
In May, I present the final section of these talks about “The Three Stages of Memoir Writing.” This series is based on my book Journey of Memoir–The Three Stages of Memoir Writing. We’ll be talking about the final stages of writing a memoir: Birthing Your Book—this stage includes developing your platform, and the revision and editing process that leads to you having a book that’s ready to be published and shared with the world. This stage is usually longer than we wish!
Sign up for this FREE event by clicking this link: http://writenonfictionnow.com/landing/nfwu-teleseminars
I hope you have a wonderful and creative year! I’m looking forward to teaching three sets of memoir workshops this winter quarter, and I’m excited about meeting new students and learning about their work and their lives—there’s nothing like a memoir to get to know someone deeply.
As I read the stories in the memoir workshops to give helpful feedback, I look for what drives the “engine” of the story—and the writer. What motivates the writer, and what are the compelling themes that weave through the story?
- Why are you writing this story? What motivates you, what is the fire in your belly that drives you to get it written?
- Where do you get stuck? Where do you stop writing and start worrying about whether it’s a good enough story, if anyone will care.
- What do you need to keep writing? What will help you to keep that fire alive and work until you have the last page of your memoir done?
Writing from Love
Most people are writing from love—exploring treasured memories, sharing with readers those people who’ve made a difference in their lives. Love may mean a feeling of gratitude, blessings, or appreciation; it might mean some kind of transformation, from holding grudges to finding forgiveness. You might be writing about how find compassion for someone who once was misunderstood or who misunderstood you. A huge part of the satisfaction of writing a memoir can be that it’s a path to finding compassion and forgiveness for ourselves too. This “love” –a healthy kind of love and self-esteem—helps us to develop our strengths, helping us to rise above the moment-by-moment struggles of life to having a bigger overview. Through writing, we discover new perspectives about our lives, our relationships, and our future. In the fifteen years I’ve been teaching memoir writing, I’ve seen transformations again and again, and I love celebrating the power of writing to help create a new view of life, and to heal the past.
Layers of Truth
Writing a memoir means that we need to find a way to present our truths in story form, and this leads us to wrestle with what “truth” means. In “real life,” of course, things—situations, people, events, and memories—aren’t always clear, they’re not etched in black and white. The fact that life holds many shades of grey, and our ambivalent feelings force us to struggle with how to present our story. It’s obvious that people see things differently—in a family and in society. We gaze upon the same scene through different eyes. We need to allow ourselves to have our truth.
Many memoirists struggle to give themselves permission to have their own truths, to hold them not matter what others say. At the same time, it can be helpful to be open to learning new ways of hearing and understanding the family stories. Doing research and interviewing others offer different angles that can enhance our memoir. At the National Association of Memoir writers Teleseummit a couple of years ago, we presented a day-long teleconference about writing the truth, and how to decided whether to write these truths in fiction or in memoir. Truth or Lie: On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction. This conference is available for purchase at the NAMW store.
The Care and Feeding of You, the Artist
As you begin the new year writing your memoir—adding new chapters, starting a new book, or re-writing chapters you want to revise, keep in mind some suggestions.
- Ask yourself if you are pulling the threads of your themes through all the chapters. If your book is about cooking, you will be telling some stories that aren’t about cooking, but food and cooking should be a theme that enters into, even if briefly, each chapter. That way the reader feels the power of your focus as you establish a foundation for your book.
- Do you feed the writer within enough? Julia Cameron talks about the Artist’s Date in her book The Artist’s Way. She says to take yourself out for a special day just to feed yourself creatively. Writers may refuel by going to a museum to take in the paintings, walks along the seashore, or by watching a favorite movie. When we unplug from an intense focus and open out to other creative paths, we make room for new ideas and energy to come to us.
- Hang out with other writers. Now with the Internet, it’s easy to find other people who have the same questions and struggles as we do—with a click.
- Here are a few locations on Facebook and some websites that offer writers great information and even lively interaction.
www.blockbusterplots.com – Block Buster Plots, an award winning website by Martha Alderson. Read her great posts about learning plot.
www.ninaamir.com — Nina Amir is the author of several books, and specializes in nonfiction writing. She offers many kinds of helpful programs and courses.
www.writeyourmemoirinsixmonths.com — Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner teach a course in memoir writing with the goal to get a first draft completed in six months.
http://www.krpooler.com — Kathy Pooler’s inspiring blog Memoir Writers Journey.
http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog — Memory Writers Network blog by Jerry Waxler—reviews many memoirs on his blog.
http://heartandcraft.blogspot.com — Heart and Craft of Lifewriting is Sharon Lippincott’s blog with many tips for writing, editing, and publishing.
www.namw.org — National Association of Memoir Writers website with resources, programs, newsletters, blog, and audios
https://memoriesandmemoirs.com Linda Joy Myers blog with tips, articles, resources and coaching information.
Facebook pages: Please “like” these pages. It helps the traffic for writers and authors if you “like” them.
https://www.facebook.com/nationalassociationofmemoirwriters — Facebook page for NAMW
https://www.facebook.com/groups/11446501213 — National Association of Memoir Writers non-member FB page
https://www.facebook.com/LindaJoyMyersAuthor — Linda Joy Myers Author Page—please “like!”
https://www.facebook.com/groups/GutsyIndiePublishers — group host Sonia Marsh
Read books about writing, read great memoirs and juicy fiction.
Read best sellers to see why they are best sellers.
Here are 12 books on memoir writing and skills to inspire you and help you to develop your skills. You can find other lists at writers’ websites and in Oprah’s newsletter.
The Liar’s Club—Mary Karr
Angela’s Ashes—Frank McCourt
This Boy’s Life—Tobias Wolff
The Truth Book—Joy Castro
Writing the Truth—Judith Barrington
Make a Scene—Jordan Rosenfeld
If You Want to Write—Brenda Ueland
Scene and Structure—Jack Bickham
The Power of Memoir—Linda Joy Myers
Wired for Story—Lisa Crohn
Writing in November!
What a great month for writers! We writers are being invited from all kinds of sites, programs, blogs, and presentations to attend to our writing this month! Get this: it’s NaNoWriMo–the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Write 50,000 words of a novel in one month and get a certificate. You are supposed to write a novel, but you can use this month to challenge yourself to write your memoir. It’s a way to get that “shitty first draft” out and on the page for future editing and revision. That is the hardest part–getting out the initial “download” of the stories and memories you have in your head.
All month long it’s National Lifewriting Month, and my long term colleague and friend Denis LeDoux, owner of Soleil Lifestory Network, is offering some terrific classes and workshops this month. Check out the details at the bottom of the post.
And, at the National Association of Memoir Writers, we kick off the month with our FREE premier event the NAMW Telesummit where we invite experts to speak about story writing, publishing, blogging, and social media. NAMW is my baby, so I’m so excited to spend 6 hours on the phone talking with people I respect, and LOVE talking to.
I’ll be sharing time with Mike O’Mary, owner of Dream of Things, a small publisher of memoir, who will talk about how to present your work to a small publisher.
Lisa Cron, author of Wired on Story, will discuss the brain science behind story writing, and what our brains crave through story.
Nina Amir, who has her own amazing blog month all November: Write Nonfiction in November–a whole month of blog posts and articles about writing nonfiction–is going to speak about How to Blog your Book to help it sell.
Frances Caballo, author of the new book Social Media Just for Writers is going to educate us on social media–and make it simple and easy to use for us right brain writers who tend to not want to learn about social media. But as a reformed cynic, I can say I’ve learned how to make it easy and fun–so you can too!
Our final presenters will be Kamy Wikoff and Brooke Warner, who created SheWritesPress, a hybrid press that answers the needs of current writers, especially memoirists in this challenging and changing world of publishing.
To sign up for the free all day event–ask your questions live on the line, or get the free audio downloads afterwards–sign up here.
Resources from Denis LeDoux:
The Soleil Lifestory Network has prepared tele-classes, audios, and handouts–all free for the month of November–to support you in your writing.
Create Characters That “Live” on the Page! In this tele-class, you will learn many simple techniques to enhance the verisimilitude of your memoir characters. Monday, November 5, 2012, 8-9 PM/ET.
– Tell the Truth. In this tele-class, you will learn how to avoid sins of omission and commission and how to appreciate the truth–the whole truth. The tele-class will also discuss the pain that can often company telling the truth. Monday, November 19, 2012, 8-9 PM/ET
– Price it Right. This tele-class geared to help Memoir Professionals to assess their product and service pricing and to bring it in line with both their needs and that of the public. Monday, November 26, 2012, 8-9 PM/ET
Please join me at the National Association of Memoir Writers for a great day, and check out all the other events going on this month. And be sure to write, write, write!!