Writing Tips for Memoir: A Story in Time

When you are writing a story that takes place over a long period of time, be sure to let the reader know the timeline. They need to know when things are happening, how much time has passed, and what led up to the event. Don’t let the reader figure it out for herself. That’s too much work for the reader. Let the story bring her along in the flow of the story with a sense of time moving over skipped periods. You can start a list of transitional phrases to help the reader move smoothly to a new time. Add to the list as you think of more:

As time passed by I realized..

Once I realized ___, I could settle into __

For awhile, ..

Content to let my days be filled with__, I let time.. Continue reading “Writing Tips for Memoir: A Story in Time” »

Bhanu Kapil and Voice/Memoir and Counseling

Bhanu Kapil was in town from Naropa University and did a performance piece as a red bundle on the floor. With words from her voice on tape we saw her life as a living body, a body downed by migration and loss. She shows through the small movement of her body through the
cloth that she is alive and moving but barely so, a human under assault.

The idea of a voice from the body is one that we all need to consider. How would our story be told from the body? Are you cut off as many are? Would you need to use your body to be in present time and it would have to be your practice? What words are left out of your narrative if your body is barely alive? Joyous, liberty, spunk? What verbs are not being used? Continue reading “Bhanu Kapil and Voice/Memoir and Counseling” »

Chapters from Memoir as Magazine Pieces

Here to do a memoir for client. Snowy day and lots of work ahead.  Great story but needs shaping to most important period. Lots there.  Determined that showing her family’s love and loyalty to each other most important and relying safety information important too.  Questions about publishing first in essays in well-known and small press magazines.

Yes, it’s a good idea. Keep it to a third of manuscript.

 

The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes

I changed my mind and it feels good to do so. I didn’t enjoy the lackluster voice of the protagonist in The Sense of An Ending until I sat down and read it for a length of time; sometimes reading a chunk of a book at one time makes a difference to me in how I can register a book’s tone and voice. Well, I  settled in with in and came to like this 60’s man who was really an ordinary “every man” who took what life gave him and made it enough. Not pro-active until the end. The book became an alternative to Catcher in the Rye with the same sensibility. Continue reading “The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes” »

Jennifer Eagen’s Novels

Eagen won the Pulitzer Price for A Visit from the Goon Squad which is a richly layered character driven book. The “goon squad” is a metaphor for age coming to her characters, some maturing in wisdom and some with quirks of personality. This is book of human nature by an author who isn’t into violence but isn’t afraid of the “shadow forces” in us all. A telling of  people which includes their shadow impulses gives us a glimpse into our common reality not readily shown. Continue reading “Jennifer Eagen’s Novels” »

Writing and the Egrets

Went on a walk in Alameda, CA, about thirty minutes from where I live on the marsh in Emeryville, to see the egrets nesting. Although we have egrets here, I understand there are about twenty places in this San Francisco Bay area that they actually build a nest and lay their eggs. They nest in colonies and the trees they pick and return to year after year are often called colonized trees because many nests are built in one tree or an several close by trees. Continue reading “Writing and the Egrets” »

Alison Bechtel’s New Book Are You My Mother?

Just saw Alison Bechtel at San Francisco’s Booksmith Height Street. (What a neighborhood to remind us of the 60’s and the “flower children” we once were.) It was a crowd of all ages and orientations and the store actually felt warm and inviting with the energy of the crowd coming from folks that wanted connecting. This is what Alison does for us. She helps us connect with her experiences of family and allows us to appreciate the truth in what we have lived, rather than the illusions of our defense. Continue reading “Alison Bechtel’s New Book Are You My Mother?” »

Linda Sexton’s Reading, Anne’s Daughter, A Memoir

Linda was one of the readers at 333 in Sausalito, CA, Thursday night reading from her memoir, Half in Love: A Story of Surviving Suicide. Her famous mother took her own life when Linda was twenty, after years of  depression. Linda, struggled with her own depression and suicide attempts, and writes of her life with honesty and compassion to her troubled mother and herself. Continue reading “Linda Sexton’s Reading, Anne’s Daughter, A Memoir” »

Adult Children

It may hurt, but it’s great when an adult child of ours does tell us something that is bothering them about us. It’s our time to listen and be willing to really hear. Can you imagine what it would have felt like if our parents could have done this. Or, maybe they have and you had the good feeling of release that “your” truth is out in the open and you are not a child to this person anymore but on equal footing. This truth telling can help your child to truly feel adult and help her/him on his way. Continue reading “Adult Children” »

Dialogue in Memoir: An Element of Fiction

Most who write memoir have an important story to tell of surviving hardship or letting us go on an amazing adventure with them into new worlds of some kind. We know that the best memoirs come to life on the page because the author uses elements of fiction, such as dialogue.  At the same time, a memoir writer wants to be honest and write what only happened. No stories of abuse that didn’t happen and no mountain not climbed. However, to use dialogue is a tricky venture. Continue reading “Dialogue in Memoir: An Element of Fiction” »