Victoria Costello has written an amazing memoir A Lethal Inheritance. She is a mother, a scientist, a veteran of research, and a great writer, with a passion in her belly for uncovering layers of confusion and prejudice. She traces the history of mental illness in her family, exposing layers of secrets, losses, and coverups that do nothing but perpetuate patterns that need to be broken so that current generations can be saved.
Be sure to read her book. But first read the Huffington Post article for February 17–where she highlights the lessons offered by several memoirists–from Stephen King to Adair Lara to me–tips of wisdom about writing, digging into your history, about stirring the pot of complacency to write a memoir that is meaningful, healing, and unforgettable.
“No matter what the secret or hidden tragedy, a memoirist whose story is multi-generational must be prepared to dig through many layers of silence, obfuscation and sometimes outright lies to get at the truth, and tell her story.”
Don’t let the idea that traumas and dark plots need time to grow a perspective stop you from writing! Get out your journal, write scenes, write stories about what bugs you and makes you mad, about things you love, about people you miss, gardens you tend, pets you live with. Write and write, but know that writing is a skill that builds, and perspective is something that takes times. In the meantime, practice your craft.
Thanks to Victoria for including me and a quote from The Power of Memoir. “the verb “re-member” means to bring together different parts of oneself to become whole.” Every writer I know is piecing together the quilt of their lives as they write their memoir–bringing together memories, moments, histories, dreams, hopes, and loved ones into a world of story.
Remember, this is the Year of the Memoir! How’s yours?