What is a memoir?
A memoir is a story of an important event in your life. It is a life’s highlight of what happened to you and how you are changed. It starts with the personal story but moves toward the universal where your readers can benefit from what you have learned.
Unlike an autobiography, a memoir does not capture the entire life of the author but, rather, a medical concern, an external event such as running a marathon and what you learned about life, or an internal event about the shift in your consciousness when you found out you were adopted and how that affected your life.
Why write a memoir?
There are so many more reasons to write a memoir: a situation that changed your life and fed your desire to follow a dream, an unusual adventure and the lessons others can learn from your experience. Readers want to read how other ordinary people coped with a challenge or difficulty or how you dealt with a crisis.
A memoir can highlight a culture, race, or class for better understanding and help teach other’s understanding and tolerance through the characters of a story. Most of all, a memoir is a witness to your life, and says, “I am here. I lived through this. My life is important. This may help you.”
Whatever your own motivation for memoir writing, you will find that completing a manuscript is a satisfying accomplishment. When you write a creative nonfiction memoir, you are allowing yourself time to follow your own dream by spending time with your imagination and muse. You give value to the act of focusing internally. When you are with your story subject in a meaningful way, you are in a process of “meaning-making.”
Focus first on writing it well and then we can talk about publishing options: self publish or eliciting an agent or publisher. I can help or get you help with either.
Write honestly and we can change details, once it is done, if we need to protect the anonymity of people in your story.
How do you work with a memoir coach?
Basically, I listen to you and help you with what seems to be the next step or what seems hard for you to do. We decide together what you need and I provide a structure for you to follow. We go step-by-step into what you need and follow a timetable that is good for you and your schedule, whether we slowly move ahead, a chapter a month, or move quickly to get it completed to meet your family reunion date or publishing needs.
Because memoir coaching is my specialty, a published author in three genres including memoir, a manuscript consultant and a counselor who is accustomed to listening to others, I bring a lot of skills to help you. We combine our skills and work together.
I’ve guided many authors over the years to help them work through their processes–sometimes moving through a difficult stage; sometimes providing firsthand knowledge of the publishing industry. Several authors have used creative visualizations to “see” their next chapters: a mystery writer whose memoir was plot driven needed better characterization and a novelist needing help with a personal struggle in his protagonist. Authors sometimes read their new chapters to me as they develop a voice and use my feedback to find their own way of writing.
I have helped authors brainstorm ideas to make sure there is enough new information for a book, and then, if needed, to expand their topic. Inspirational authors often need help with structure. Other authors need encouragement to persevere. Some receive training to help them develop scenes, information about how to deal with agents and publishers, empowerment to lessen their inner critic, time management skills to focus on their own project in the midst of a busy life and self-trust to believe that writing a book is possible for them.
Because I am a visual artist represented by a professional gallery, Mythos: Artifacts and Art in California, I can help you develop scenes where people “see” what you mean by your writing so the reader will be pulled into your story.
I can read your memoir, chapter by chapter, as you write, if that’s what you want. I can also do overview readings of your first or second draft to give you suggestions on memoir organization and what material to add, shorten or delete in order to hold the reader’s attention. I can help you decide where to start and end your memoir, find more emotional depth in your characters and add subplots. I can be as hands on, as you want, or stay at a distance. I can help you write the hard stuff. If you don’t know what you need, I can interview you and lead the way of what would be most beneficial.
Ours can be an emotional support relationship or strictly a writing relationship. I’m open to both and used to giving emotional support and guidance as well as writing with well-organized, disciplined writers who want a reading with suggestions for their memoir work. I can help you put creative elements into your memoir to add interest in your subject.
Payment and Time
We start in a pay-as-you-go way so you keep control of your budget.
Together we’ll decide how much you want to write during one any time period. I am aware many writers are mothers/fathers or are working full or part-time, yet their find their project is important enough to do it in their free time.
I also welcome full-time writers who are fired up to get through the first draft and go on to the second draft but need feedback. It usually works best to see your first two or three chapters to make certain you are “showing” your reader what you want them to know, rather than “telling” them. It’s also good for me to review your “theme” and the structure you have set up for the book to see if the book unifies the content. All easy enough to do with just a bit of extra thought and guidance.
Although my office is in San Francisco, I often work with distant clients by telephone and email. In our virtual world, wherever you are we are not that far apart.