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Pick at your memories. An interesting read. Proceeds from the sale of an anthology I Speak From My Palms: The In Visible Memoirs Project Anthology help support the In Visible Memoirs Project, a project of no-cost, community-based writing workshops in communities underrepresented in literary publishing and programs. How can we achieve both uniqueness and universality? Another challenge: dealing with characters who really exist. How can we maintain our real-life relationships without compromising the stories we need to tell? Memoirists Sarah Saffian, Alexandra Styron, and Kathryn Harrison discuss these issues, in pursuit of a form of expression that we can support as both authors and daughters.

What was missing and forgotten was less often crucial or even trivial details of events than the events themselves, gone in their entirety. They alert us, calm us, reach toward us. They say implicitly, Yes, I have hoped, and yes, I have wanted, and I know that you have, too. Can a memoirist write with total honesty if she is worried about what her son might think? Christina Patterson, The Independent, Sharon Olds' account of her marital break-up made her a deserved TS Eliot winner.

But that doesn't mean confessional poetry is easy to pull off.


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Confessional poetry, says critic Mack Rosenthal, is poetry that "goes beyond customary bounds of reticence or personal embarrassment. Or how not to write a grief memoir, in her view. Should Joyce Carol Oates have revealed her second marriage? Tempest in a teapot? David L. Ulin, Jacket Copy blog, L.

Two of the writers withheld important facts and wound up producing inferior books; the writer who held nothing back produced a masterpiece. Joan Didion "understands that if you want to write about yourself, you have to give them something. Actually, Didion understands a far larger and deeper and darker truth. She understands that if you want to write about your grief, you have to give them everything. My favorite: Ernest Hemingway's "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Elsewhere, he writes "One of the saddest sentences I know is I wish I had asked my mother about that. I wish I had asked my father about that. Writers are the custodians of memory so it's extremely important to get to people, interview your parents, your grandparents. Don't worry what anybody else thinks. The important thing is to be a recorder of the past. But it's very important work, I think, writing family history, whether anyone ever sees it or not. Stiles, Yahoo! Scott Raab's article for Esquire, based on an interview with the novelist in the town that provided the setting for so much of his fiction, is a Notable Narrative, as featured on Nieman Storyboard: Esquire goes home with Philip Roth Plot Twist : Philip Carlo, true crime writer with Lou Gehrig's disease, is working on his memoir.

His deadline: his own death. And therein, to me, lies the privilege and also the challenge of teaching how to write memoir. Anybody and everybody are writing memoirs these days. Before you join the crowd, suggests Genzlinger, in reviewing four memoirs. Don't write for sympathy. Don't be a copy cat. And consider making yourself the "least important character" in the story.

It makes its interest in readers explicit, offering not just a series of life events, but a deliberate suggestion of what it is to be a human being — to experience confusion, despair, hope, joy, and all that happens in between. Secrets of Memoir panel. Six-word memoirs hosted by Smith, a personal stories magazine. One life. Six words. What's yours? Six word memoirs on love and heartbreak. Everyone has a story to tell. The Slate Diaries. A collection of some of the "diaries" published by Slate the online literary magazines. Speak Memory. Oliver Sachs's fascinating long essay in the New York Review of Books on the nature of memory-- how we remember, misremember, and construct memories -- and borrow from what we read!

She learned that obsessive precision is not the greatest quality in a would-be memoirist. When Sting did this, his creativity was reborn. Songs exploded from his head. More should do so because artists write about what matters to artists, so it is helpful to new artists. A Story Circle is a group of women who come together on a regular basis to write, read, share, and celebrate the stories of their lives.

Clearly the method can be adapted to other types of groups. I was ecstatic when I sold a book about my sordid first marriage. I would only be pretending to be at peace with my past and ready to share its lessons with the world. I thought becoming a writer was a Cinderella, all-or-nothing type deal. But it turns out to be more of a Velveteen Rabbit situation. The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead , David Shields' excellent autobiography of his body, is a fascinating little book about life and death and about what's happening to your body enroute from one to the other.

Don't read it if you don't want to hear the bad news, but it does help explain things like why you have to make more trips to the bathroom as you age. Rules for the much-maligned form. In brief but read the article! Part 1 by Matilda Butler, Women's Memoirs blog, about truth being affected by relative age and wisdom ; Part 2 about differences in vantage points and information ; and Part 3 about the difference between two people's emotional truths. Writers wrote them, of course, but rarely did they become known for the memoir alone JR Ackerley and Laurie Lee may be two exceptions.

Publishers and readers thought instead of "autobiographies", in which intimate personal disclosure took a back seat to records of achievement. The boundary between the two forms is blurred and bridgeable: VS Pritchett's wonderful account of his early life, A Cab at the Door, was described as "autobiography" when it first appeared in , whereas now it would have "memoir" written all over it. Gore Vidal explained the difference in this way: "A memoir is how one remembers one's own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked. More important, by stressing subjective, unverified memory it permits the memoirist to misremember and, unconsciously or otherwise, to embroider and invent — an indulgence, it has to be said, that Athill has never been interested to take.

It was liberating to write so truthfully. It was also effective. My teacher finally smiled at me, and he said my words held wisdom. Traversing the Mystery of Memory by Richard A. Friedman NY Times, About the accuracy of nostalgia and how the brain records memories. Friedman concludes: "if anything marks us as human, it's more our bent for making sense of things than for discovering the essential truth about them. For example: "The single biggest change in recent years has been the dramatic drop in advances for most biographies.

While this may seem shortsighted in the long run, it makes financial sense when considering the declining state of books. Biographies, like most forms of nonfiction, have a hard time earning back the kind of money necessary to research and write them. The story part book, part film, part family photo album of Pine Point, a mining town that existed only long enough to give a generation or two some memories--and was then erased from the map. Scroll to bottom and click on Visit Website. He's writing about fiction but offers helpful insights how memory is affected by details from reality.

Critics take grim satisfaction in tearing the genre to pieces. How quickly they forget Nabokov and Karr and Wolff. While some require the freedom of fiction, what if some stories need the pressure of truth — not because a writer perceives reality or confession as more interesting or so different from fiction, but because there is a unique dialogue that happens only in memoir between the present and the past. Writing and publishing a memoir requires us to reveal and share your authentic self.

A memoirist must attempt to avoid predetermined stories and challenge these popular narratives by plunging the subjects into a testing moment It is important for the memoirist to distinguish between what is lively detail and what is digression. But the record itself still matters; we do need to know who we are. What were the challenges of working with their subjects and their families? How did they get access to archives and research materials?

How did they find publishers? These experienced writers share stories and tips that will enlighten both jazz biography readers and would-be biography authors. This webinar is part of a monthly series produced by the Jazz Journalists Association. David Foster Wallace was inspired to write about a breakup. So are a lot of memoirists. It's not always worth it. Both ingredients—memory and story—are equally vital.

Like a journal, a memoir is a passionate account of your experiences—but like a novel it has narrative structure. A journal may be eloquent, and you may choose to share it with selected others, but it is essentially a conversation with yourself. A memoir is inherently a conversation with others. Voice, persona, and point of view in memoir "Just as in everyday life we laugh and cry, show anger and sadness, so, too, for personal essayists and memoirists, one voice is rarely enough.

Memoirists, for example need different voices in order to reveal the complexity of a life. You may need to twine a child voice with an adult voice; a lyric voice with a comic voice; a sober voice with an out-of-control voice.

26 Powerful Women’s Recovery Memoirs to Inspire Your Own Journey | The Temper

How she loved, feared, yearned. This embodies the mysterious nature of memory, upon which memoir and much of adult life rests. And how to find a suitable prose style for it. You start with an interesting voice; the rest follows. If the voice is strong enough, the reader will go anywhere with you. They are very surface-oriented. In memoir, the only through-line is character represented by voice. In memoir, you are that main character. It has to engage your emotions in some way. You need two things for the text to move forward.

And so my review will be less about this book's extraordinary perspective on the Holocaust more broadly and specifically about the predicament and response of the Jewish community in Britain. Other reviews have addressed that achievement very effectively. What I want to comment on and celebrate, as a student of biography, is Haber's remarkable control of the narrative voice she uses in this painfully moving book.

I would argue the most difficult task of all for a memoirist is reaching back in her memory and giving the reader the perspective she had then, early in her life, rather than the meaning she now imparts to it as an adult. Haber might have chosen to pronounce truths about that stage in her life as she now understands them. But instead she finds a way as a writer to put us back there with a little girl who has no idea what is happening to her, not only within the greater drama of Britain at war and London under attack, but even more intensely the mysteries of her own predicament as a child imperfectly loved, occasionally abandoned, and consistently refused warnings or explanations.

So we wander and wonder with her, we never know why certain things were done, only that they were done. We can manage anything, even in a world at war, even as a child, if adults around us understand what we are emotionally owed, what we need to get through. There were some such adults in this child's life, but not enough, and not always. So read this book because of the history it conveys, but mostly read it to understand what it is to be a child. By the end, I was finishing years of study of nonfiction form, hours of writing workshops with invested peers and mentors in the same field.

So when my point of view as the narrator changes, it is through an integral change of the persona itself. I was more aware of myself, and more in tune with my surroundings, by the end of the writing process, so I resisted changing earlier bits to make myself look smarter. I just left in my initial excitements and lack of knowledge. Into those surrogates will be poured all that the writer cannot address directly -- inappropriate longings, s defensive embarrassments, anti-social desires -- but must address to achieve felt reality. The persona in a nonfiction narrative is an unsurrogated one The unsurrogated narrator has the monumental task of transforming low-level self-interest into the kind of detached empathy required of a piece of writing that is to be of value to the disinterested reader.

Fierce Attachments was the first thing I ever wrote in which I felt the presence of a persona on whom I could rely. She figured out the scope of the book and how to fill it properly. I was never under the impression that I had written a major book, but I thought that what I had written was a small good thing.

Then one day I wrote something about the city, about going out into the street for relief from my solitude and having an encounter in the street, and suddenly it came together for me. I thought, I can write about Leonard and myself as creatures of the city. Martin evokes his experience in scenes while also slipping into the action musings by his older and wiser self.

For one price, we get two points of view—that of the sensitive, difficult boy and that of the wiser adult he became. And then there is So, What? Without this reflective voice, the Coors story lacks the impulse for understanding that drove me to the page in the first place. It remains a surface recounting of events, which leaves my readers scratching their heads and saying, 'So, what?

While most stories have a single protagonist, addiction narratives are usually about two people: the addict deep in the throes of their addiction, and the recovered narrator looking back objectively on the experience. In that sense, addiction narratives are schizophrenic, offering two perspectives—one reliable, one unreliable—opposing and informing each other. How those two perspectives are apportioned determines the nature of the result.

Craft basically my working on the words and syntax can get such a passage flowing because such recasting reconnects me to subjective experience. And honestly, probably because varying sentence structures both mimics emotional connection and creates it. Our moods, our beings are as changeable as the sky long hours at any writing project teach us , so we can no longer trust any one voice as definitive or lasting.

We can evoke the people or places that move us by becoming them, since every subject worth taking on remakes us in its own image. In my first book, I thought it only right to describe the Philippines in a passionate, undefended, solicitous voice — to reflect what I saw in the place itself — and, five chapters later, to evoke Japan from a glassy remove, to speak for its cool and polished distances.

Writing on the Dalai Lama, I work hard to espouse an analytical and logical and rigorous part of myself — to transmit by example those qualities most evident in him. And then, when I turn to writing about Graham Greene, I aspire to a more haunted, shriven, doubting even English voice. He's talking about the voice of a self-involved, neurotic but emotionally honest New Yorker.

Perhaps voice is the combination of these, powered by the essence of the narrative self who is the subject of the memoir," writes the anonymous author of the Slightly Nutty blog. Tone can range widely from highly emotional to melodramatic, from blackly humorous to cheerful or self-contained and can also be a combination of any of these.

For example, you can use language to bring the reader closer to the emotion or distance them from it. Big Hair. Big Problems. Read a sample chapter here. Can memoirists take liberties with the truth? They learn that on the one hand they will interact with the inmates much as they do with other students, but on the other, there are differences. They must not touch inmates. They cannot exchange gifts or information with them. They cannot take notes during the class and must keep in strictest confidentiality anything the inmates share about themselves.

ConTextos first developed the writing program for public schools. But it has since found equal success in the prison setting, where inmates are finding a voice to tell their stories. This moving talk is in Spanish with subtitles; her prison writing workshops focus on short poems, but as you can see when an inmate reads his poem are also about memoir.

David Coogan. Stories from ten men in a writing class that started in the Richmond City Virginia jail. Mass incarceration began in earnest when the radical s came to an end and we began warehousing social problems we could not deal with: racism, but also poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, mental illness, substandard public schooling, violence against children, violence against women, and so much more. Between and we went from incarcerating about a half million Americans to over two million Americans, a large many of them nonviolent drug offenders.

We went from triaging the violence of legitimate challenges leveled at America by groups like the Black Panthers to taking whole segments of America out of America and into this enormous warehouse. At the same time the genre of memoir began outselling fiction four to one. We became fascinated with the life stories of strangers while we began locking up our neighbors. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.

Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did. See also: Regional and international oral history organizations H-Oralhist , a network for scholars and professionals active in studies related to oral history. A very popular guide for doing oral histories and personal and family histories, with memory prompts that encourage storytelling more than fact-finding: What were you like as a child? What did you think? What did you do? Organized by topic, from earliest memories, school life, young adulthood, marriage, children, grandchildren, through later life.

The discovery of a tape recording shed light on a puzzling family photograph which was taken in - and changed historian Lisa Jardine's views about the genealogy boom. Michael Takiff, Gravitas History. It just depends whether you want to go camping in the Rockies or take a world cruise on a luxury liner. Overnight the website closed down, to meet the rules of the bankruptcy court, so a lot of us felt abandoned. Some of us teach classes. Plenty of us provide services and a few regional organizations have formed. I can't find you. Let me know if you already exist and how clients may reach you, and I'll add you to the list.

Many of us start doing the work, then discover the term "personal historian" and recognize ourselves. There are people for that. Backstories about the process of getting the stories into print will be helpful if you want to help others tell their life stories. Schuetze, NY Times, It is part of an unorthodox approach to dementia treatment that doctors and caregivers across the Netherlands have been pioneering: harnessing the power of relaxation, childhood memories, sensory aids, soothing music, family structure and other tools to heal, calm and nurture the residents, rather than relying on the old prescription of bed rest, medication and, in some cases, physical restraints.

So she started a memoir-writing business. Thirty years from now, Nate's great-great- grandchildren will be able to pick up this book and know him," she said. The words we use matter The result is a moving and at times haunting first-person account of life on hospital wards. There used to be twenty-three big publishing houses and still others to send to. Now there are fewer than half as many. Luckily she had an agent who believed in her, who knew where to find that small press that might love her ms.

It had been a rocky recovery since his lung transplant three months earlier at the William S. Instead, she asked Hall if he wanted to tell his life story. Today more than 2, patients at the Madison VA have shared their life stories. Project organizers say it could change the way providers interact with patients. Listen or read the transcript, or both. See Wikipedia's List of fake memoirs and journals surprisingly long, and some of these books were popular!

Your Personal Memoirist Is Here Alina Tugend, Entrepreneurship, NY Times, "Many novices embrace the idea of talking to people and writing about their lives, but are not aware of the minutiae and marketing strategies involved. Horne said, with time added if the interview is disjointed or if the subject has a heavy accent. Can you stop by once a week? Tyrrell said. Horne said. What's your message is part of figuring out who is your audience, which means who will buy your books! A very helpful discussion.

Is the industry "undergoing a backlash after a long spate of huge advances for books that were always unlikely to make much money"? Interesting discussion, which concludes: Downgrade your expectations. Firms that target ultra-rich investors including wealth management firms have increasingly been tapping into personal history projects as a way to attract clients.

They say it's a meaningful way to bond with clients and their offspring, often leading families to entrust more of their money with the firm. Demand is growing for personal historians who can help clients craft polished narratives - but actually making the time-intensive projects pay off is challenging, pros warn. These gods take human shape at editorial meetings all over publishing offices in New York and elsewhere, and they are a demanding lot.

Whereas a book on, say, diabetes need only only? The memoir gods are often unkind; at least they have been to me and my clients over the years. So,like many agents I know, I shun memoirs. Memoirs used to be the territory of the famous, the intrepid, or the afflicted. Today, everyone's getting into the act, often with the help of a personal historian.

And yet when my dad died in — same thing While capturing sound is now so easy, make sure you record the voices you will want to hear again. The sound alone will say everything someday. Dan Bortolotti, More. Scroll down to read Jennifer Campbell's story of starting a personal history business. How an untimely layoff led four women to a whole new career--including Jennifer Campbell's shift from public television to personal history work. When Jennifer Campbell says she's a personal historian, people think she's a ghost writer or genealogist.

She tells them she is neither. I swear.

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It just kept tilting in that direction. The only scenes that felt real and true were those with my wife and two sons They are, after all, only as strong as the roots that bind them. Another strategy shared by such families is having a communal desire to understand their history, warts and all Perdue said that she interviewed people who married into the Henderson family about their lives and wrote biographies about them for other family members to read. The new spouses are given the essays on what it means to be a Henderson.

Where did you go? Serving that market is becoming a small-business enterprise. Personal historians help others tell their life story--in print, audio, or video, or all three. Overall, what we got from this was access to family memory, knowledge and expertise, in a way that cannot be found in a physical archive. Tanya Evans, History Workshop, More collaborative work between family historians and those based in the academy.

Anne also had cancer. When I arrived at her home in Glendale, she was gray and diminished, with barely a voice. But as the day progressed and the camera rolled, she bloomed. Her best years, she said, were during World War II. I have learned since that there is a branch of elder care called "reminiscence therapy. A study published last year in the Journal of Psychology and Aging found that these benefits were enhanced when the reminiscing occurred with others. Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker, 'When we arrived in America, and were taken under the wing of my aunt and uncle, who had left Prague six months earlier, we changed our name from Wiener to Winn, just as they had changed theirs from Eisner to Edwards, out of fear of anti-Semitism, which was not limited to Nazi Germany.

As an extra precaution, my aunt and uncle had joined the Episcopal Church. My parents balked at taking such a step. But they sent Marie and me to a Lutheran Sunday school in our neighborhood, and never did anything or said anything to acquaint us with our Jewishness. Finally, one day, after one of us proudly brought home an anti-Semitic slur learned from a classmate, they decided it was time to tell us that we were Jewish.

It was a bit late. Many years later, I came to acknowledge and treasure my Jewishness. But during childhood and adolescence I hated and resented and hid it. Personal and family histories make great books. Devin Hillis makes documentaries about the elderly. The shorter ones are played at funerals as tributes to the deceased. We're turning stories into a symphony. We're deciphering the days of this older generation or the young father with a terminal illness or a mother with breast cancer who has a few months to live or a child with a tumor whose parents want to hang on to life.

Make sense of the pain. We're taking all that and putting it into understandable bits of video and music and story. This is a holy endeavor. Neither of these memorials has even been printed, let alone distributed. But to the families, they mean the world. The next parts of the story: 2. The Journey Begins ; 3. Closing the Circle. Romancing the Curve. Lots of good content and samples on Steve's website. See also his clever second time-lapse video of setting up a video shoot , showing how a video professional will move around chairs and other furniture in a room to get the right backgrounds and lighting for particular shots one part of the room might be better early in the day and another better later in the day, plus you might want variety.

See if you can spot a little white critter. The field of personal history can be a good fit for retirees embarking on a second career. Listen or read transcript. Accompanying his mother to her 60th college reunion gave him insight into the young woman she once was. Real estate companies have also enlisted his services, hoping the narratives he uncovers will help give their brokers a slight edge in the market. Today, everyone's getting into the act--often with the help of a personal historian. Leiken, for her mother to answer each week. It then emails the questions to Ms.

Mills, and when she replies, her answers go to her family and are stored on a website where they can read them privately. In guided autobiography, students write and share their life stories with the help of a trained instructor. I was honour-bound really to dig deep and bring memories, perhaps, that had been suppressed for a long time, that I would have preferred, perhaps, to remain in the sediment of my life.

But having done that and having got through this process, I now feel so much better. I've really forgiven people in my life and forgiven myself. And I feel much lighter because of it. So the process has been wonderful.


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And I'm advising everyone I meet, all of my friends and everybody - people in the street, 'Write your own book. Heidi Grant Halvorson and Jonathan Halvorson, author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently , on The Science of Success: a blog about strategies that work explains the difference between promotion motivation striving for gains and prevention motivation avoiding losses. Even the elder's kids, the generation it makes sense to market to, might be motivated by that fear of losing stories and the names of people in the old family photos.

But you can also emphasize the rich experience that working with a personal historian can provide your parent, or the great stories such a person can elicit, perhaps even better than someone in the family might do. Polley experiments with the expected narrative structures, pushing us to consider not just the meaning of stories but how the way we tell the story can change its impact. Writing their own stories, they say, strengthens their reporting by helping them look harder for details, be more sensitive to the people they interview and develop a deeper appreciation for the work they do.

Books and videos each have strengths and weaknesses, as formats for personal histories, writes personal historian Andrea Gross, who clearly outlines them here. You don't need to choose: You can do both. Peer Spirit , Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea's company, facilitates a group process with rotating leadership.

On its site, you can download Basic Guidelines for Calling a Circle and other handouts, including one on Storycatching. A professional knows what not to do. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. Four authors talk about how they've grappled with these questions, the consequences of their choices, and the lessons they've learned. While the truth can deflect a defamation claim, often the truth when disclosed can be the basis for an invasion of privacy claim.

Writing about Family in Memoir Laurie Hertzel, TriQuarterly, Hertzel, author of News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist , reporting on an AWP panel on the subjectexplains the legal dangers of defamation or invasion of privacy, explaining that the First Amendment does not give you carte blanche. How much of the juicy bits can you include when they involve others and how much should you leave out, including names?

Is it acceptable for writers to embellish the events of their lives to provide a more exciting book? Factual recounting of an event versus emotional memory. Did it really happen that way? How can you remember all that? On reconstructing dialogue and other concerns. Macaulay Hat tip to Thomas Forster for this quotation Alas, these pieces seem to be no longer online--will their authors let me know if they reappear again one day? But the links for now are not working and a search did not turn them up in another venue.

How much is too much truth? And whose truth is it to reveal? Those are two of many questions addressed in a fascinating issue about the ethics of memoir writing in a wonderful online magazine, Talking Writing. Can we trust ourselves to tell our stories truthfully? How far can we carry the fine art of embellishment? Arlene L. Mandell on Baring Ourselves for Public Viewing. What Belongs to Her and What to Me? Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book. Writing personal and family histories These are books for people who generally do not see themselves as writers but want to write something about their life or their family.

Buy anything from Amazon after clicking on a link here and we get a small referral fee for your purchases. He makes it all seem human and doable. How to create "last says"--short personal narratives that serve as a powerful form of life review. A personal historian's "roll-up-your-sleeves" guide to writing and publishing your own or someone else's memoirs or autobiography.

Interviewing and recording techniques helpful for family histories. Moving from facts to memories to meaning, this book takes you through the seven stages of life: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood roughtly , adulthood roughly , middle adulthood roughly , late adulthood roughly , elder roughly 80 onward.

Fairly sophisticated writing prompts, and examples from fine writers, invite you to recall forgotten moments and discover their significance. Emphasizes illustrating your stories with photographs, memorabilia, and other images including digital format. In this slim volume, Smith emphasizes writing with intent, writing about what was important about a particular event. That may be enough. How to make money doing something you love. Workshop in a book, encouraging nonwriters to write their own stories, by a founding member of APH.

A step-by-step guide to preserving the life story of the child who died, by a personal historian and bereaved parent. A book for parents challenged by serious illness, to help and inspire them to leave stories and messages for the children who will survive them. In addition to covering traditional writing topics well, Silverman encourages writers to transform their life story into words that matter.

She advocates finding the courage to speak truth about issues on which others might prefer silence. This classic and insight-provoking guide to finding coherent narratives in our life experiences, recently out of print, is now available again. Not about memoir but about understanding the storylines of our lives. Raab foreword by Melvin J. Silverstein, MD , a wry self-help memoir that urges early cancer detection and conveys the power of writing as a healing and well-being therapy.

In this little book, McDonnell focuses on how to write "crisis memoirs," finding "our own meaningfulness, even in the midst of sadness and disappointment. The idea behind the field of narrative medicine, which Charon helped create, is that the doctor's job is to listen and by hearing the patient's story to know the patient more fully than numbers on a chart can convey.

Step-by-step memoir writing, with healing from emotional pain as a goal; full of interesting psychological insights. McAdams argues that we are the stories we tell. As children we begin gathering material for our "self-defining stories," and as we age we can revise and claim our personal stories. Narrative psychology. Geared more to self-understanding than to memoir writing, this book is still useful for life writing. Her incredible research, her networking, and her gift for words should carry this book into the pantheon of great books on writing. A slim, well-written book focused on the slice-of-life memoir.

So we need to make our lives a story we can live with, because we live the life our story makes possible. An excellent how-to guide, on digging into who you are and have become, and on writing a readable memoir about what you discover. Fascinating insights into the nature of memory, including how we often reconstruct in our memory what really happened -- so that, for example, a horrid experience becomes a funny one. Changes the ways you view your own memory or the memories of eyewitnesses, and gives incentive to investigating the facts as a reporter would, on critical stories about your life.

Albert founder of Story Circle Network encourages women to discover their voices and grow spiritually by putting their stories into words. Her guide invites women on a voyage of self-discovery, by exploring eight thematic clusters: beginnings and birthings; achievements, gifts and glories; female bodies; loves, lovers, lovings; journeys and journeying; homes and homings; visits to the Valley of Shadows; and experiences of community.

Intelligent commentary and exercises to help you access memories and emotions, shape scenes, develop plot lines, populate life story with "characters," and bring depth to your memoir or personal essay. A helpful companion for structuring book-length life writing, with wise counsel on remembering and selective memory , emotional healing, finding one's voice, choosing details, creating drama, and imposing structure. Australian writer, but the book seems easily available online. By the same author: The Memoir Book , which one writing student said was exactly what she needed to get going on her memoirs.

This highly recommended guide, full of exercises, asks you to think about your life and about how best to write a life story. Though Anderson Cooper has always considered himself close to his mother, his intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS affords him little time to spend with her. After she suffers a brief but serious illness at the age of ninety-one, they resolve to change their relationship by beginning a year-long conversation unlike any they had ever had before.

The result is a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other. Books featuring such prompts vary greatly in the style of prompts from simple fact-finding questions to prompts that probe for emotional memories to prompts that liberate the imagination.

Provides sensitizing questions which help participants write on life themes as opposed to life stages : Branching points. Health and body. Sexual identity. Experiences with and about death. Your spiritual life and values. Your goals and aspirations. More themes for Guided Autobiography groups. A tiny volume of writing prompts which encourage writer to write brief bits, coming at your life at an angle, through the "side door," as she does in her slim, fine memoirs A Three Dog Life about caring for her husband after a hit-and-run accident shatters his skull and Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life show how vignettes and snippets artfully arranged can convey the arc of a changing relationship, or relationships.

A small book of writing prompts for oral or written family histories -- one of the first of its kind. A slim, spiral-bound, illustrated, easy-to-maneuver workbook good for senior centers with questions and memory joggers to tease out a life story, and excerpts from real autobiographies. The ideal gift for someone who is writing, or thinking of writing, their memoir. The great memoirists often break the rules, especially about mixing present and past tense. Explores the history and nature of biography. For the reference shelf.

A delightful account of how those final stories get told. Joseph Epstein has a genius for discerning and defining a subject's essence in a few thousand words in the Wall Street Journal. Rollyson writes: "Mr. Epstein's ability to capture a subject in a memorable 3, words should be the envy of biographers, who write at greater length but sometimes with no greater effect. Biographies are vats of facts that take patience to digest; Mr. Epstein's essays are brilliant distillations.

William Zinsser. Thoughtful talks and biography shop talk by Robert A. Nagel, Richard B. Sewall, Ronald Steel, and Jean Strouse. Explores the act of memoir-making, the tension between memory and forgetting inventiveness as part of the search for emotional truth , the art of storytelling, and the value of the first draft, as a mystery dropping clues about the narrator's feelings. Practical wisdom from nine notable memoirists about their process often about what to leave out and the hurdles they faced.

This interesting overview of trends in memoir and taxonomy of types of memoir reveals one constant: the "inherent and irresolvable conflict between the capabilities of memory and the demands of narrative. This slim volume contains frank tips for writing better columns, personal essays, and memoirs. Marc Pachter, director of the NPG at the time, moderated the symposium. She argues for writing "narrative history" as engaging as fiction, but based upon excellent scholarship.

Pieces by the master of essay writing on the craft of personal essay and memoir writing. Though not geared to memoir-writing, Gerard presents insights and examples that could help elevate your memoir above a string of anecdotal memories. Using his own story as an example, this expert on writing well shows how to be selective in choosing the stories to tell and the details to use. Memoir-writing basics present vs. Written by a veteran for veterans, it details the elements of craft involved in writing both fiction and non-fiction.

The Veterans Writing Project uses the book in its co-cost seminar and workshops for members of the armed forces, active and reserve, who want to learn about writing in order to tell their stories. Foreword by Rick Bragg. Read excerpts here. Read a review here. Spanning more than a century, these intriguing reflections of personal as well as global social and political history are told in the unique voice and viewpoint of each storyteller. Each selection is a song of self; some have perfect pitch, some the waver of authenticity.

All demonstrate the power of the word to salvage from the onrush of life, nuggets worth saving. With aging, retirement, divorce, widowhood, and separation from our children, we lose roles we once played and may experience less sense of identity and self-worth. Life review, however done, can be therapeutic, and in groups, under a masterful leader, can also be enormous fun.

Good groups bond.

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Creative juices flow. Hearing each other's stories brings back our own often forgotten memories, good and bad, which in the presence of sympathetic others can be healing. Here are some book you may find useful.

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Buy anything from Amazon after clicking on a link here and I get a small referral fee for your purchases. This helps cover fees for site hosting and link-checking, and the opportunity costs of time spent care-tending the website. Interesting reading even if you don't plan to lead a reminiscence group for elders, and useful if you do. Birren and Donna E. Deutchman, Provides helpful groups of questions and memory prompts on different themes and transitions: On the major branching points in your life, on family, on major life work and career, on the role of money in one's life, on health and body image, on sex roles and sexual experiences, on experiences with and ideas about death, on loves and hates, on the meaning of life aspirations and goals , on the role of music, art, or literature in your life, and on your experiences with stress.

Participants in GAB groups write a two-page story each week, on one of these themes, typically to be read aloud to the group. Cheryl Svensson and Anita Reyes offer online classes as well as online training for GAB instructors in the Birren approach, a ten-week session that gives you a sense how the process works. A great place to start. You can read online James E.

Cheryl M. Svensson, ed. Birren and Kathryn R. Kunz, Florence Gray Soltys, and others, provides professional insight into the process of helping older adults with reminiscence and life review. Describes individual, group, and art-based approaches to constructive, even therapeutic, reminiscence. Less useful for teaching life story writing, but of possible interest academically: Teaching Life Writing Texts , ed. Miriam Fuchs, Craig Howes chiefly of academic interest. Narrative Medicine. Cautioning that writing is no substitute for medical care, DeSalvo who wrote about her own pain, anxiety, and depression in Vertigo: A Memoir recommends writing five pages a week, uncensored, in spare moments, reporting every detail, to speed healing -- and sharing with other empathetic writers, to sharpen narrative.

She refers often to James W. Pennebaker has demonstrated that expressing emotions appears to protect the body against damaging internal stresses and seems to have long-term health benefit," wrote Daniel Goleman, in the NY Times. In this little book, McDonnell focuses here on how to write "crisis memoirs," finding "our own meaningfulness, even in the midst of sadness and disappointment. The Healing Art of Storytelling. This classic and insight-provoking guide to finding coherent narratives in our life experiences, which was out of print, is now available again. Lines from "Little Gidding" by T.

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Eliot We die with the dying: See, they depart, and we go with them. We are born with the dead: See, they return, and bring us with them. We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Whether you're positioning your firm among competitors or building employee morale, these products are no longer the boring and unread products they once were. Often, we hear the stories of people with addiction being redeemed by their children — but this is not that kind of story, which is precisely why we love it.

Janelle Hanchett chronicles the story of embracing motherhood through the devastating separation from her children at the height of addiction. Her quest for sobriety includes rehabs and therapy — necessary steps to begin a journey into realizing and accepting an imperfect self within an imperfect life. For any mother or person who has felt like an outsider in your own life, you might just relate.

Before she even turned twenty, Cupcake Brown survived more than most of us will in a lifetime: The death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug and alcohol addiction, miscarriage, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution and homelessness. Eventually, she goes through a series of 9-to-5 jobs that end with her living behind a Dumpster due to a descent into crack cocaine use. But in this gripping memoir, she turns it all around with the help of a family of eccentric fellow substance users and friends or strangers who come to her aid.

This gripping tale is about the resilience of spirit combined with the worst of modern urban life. Alcohol, after all, tasted to her like freedom itself. Her beloved habit of overdrinking and staying until bars closed, however, meant that her nights and the following mornings were also all about her regular blackouts. For the longest time, she thought alcohol brought adventure into her life, but eventually, she had to face the hard reality: Whatever lies she wanted to tell herself the truth was that drinking was more likely draining her life and breaking her spirit. This is the story of a woman who embarks on her bravest adventure yet and discovers sometimes you have to give up your beloved destructive habits to finally find yourself.

In this book, celebrated journalist Anne Dowsett Johnston intuitively intertwines her own life story of alcohol use disorder with some great in-depth research and relevant interviews with those leading the charge in this field, shedding some much-needed light into this crisis and the factors that have contributed to it.

Growing up in the public eye is never an easy thing. Things get even more interesting when you have to do all this while battling manic depression, addiction, and visiting all sorts of mental institutions as a result. In this adaptation from her stage show, Carrie Fisher uses her trademark sarcasm and humor to tell you all about growing up in Hollywood and living as Princess Leia.

Well, at least as well as she can remember after having been through electroshock therapy. Koren Zailckas is not an alcoholic. This is just how it has always been since her introduction to Southern Comfort when she was just fourteen. Lisa Smith is the epitome of control… except when she is not. Beneath her perfect life and incredible success hides a girl who thought she had cheated her way out of her anxiety and stress via alcohol, but now has completely surrendered to the powers of this magical liquid. In this dark but incredibly comedic memoir, Smith tells all about her story and the road she finally took towards recovery from her perpetual numbing.

Mary Hiland

For Caroline Knapp, as it is for many, alcohol was the protective friend that allowed her to get through life. Her protector became her lover and this is the memoir of their twenty-years-long destructive relationship. More than just a memoir, this book is about the societal traps that lead us to drink, how drinking affects our brains and our bodies, and the psychology and neuroscience behind it all. After quitting her career in order to dedicate more of her time to her family, Clare Pooley found herself depressed and feeling sluggish with a daily drinking habit to keep her company.

She often wondered if she was an alcoholic but was afraid of the answer. This book is a positive tale where she narrates the year in which she went from a cancer diagnosis to her happiest and best self ever. In this journey, she became sober, beat cancer, and finally built a richer life than she could have possibly imagined. Jowita Bydlowska could not have expected things to go this way. She had already beat alcohol in the past and there was nothing wrong with celebrating the birth of her child with some champagne, right? That celebration threw her once again into the depths of alcoholism.

Her struggle is beautifully portrayed, and you also get to emerge with her on the other side once she regains her sobriety once more. That bottle of merlot was all Kerry Cohen could think about as she got through her day. She did all she had to do but always with this reward on top of her mind. It took her until she was forty to realize this was neither normal nor healthy.

She was a self-identified functional alcoholic. The worst part? With incredible wit and skill, Sacha Scobie manages to tell you both what alcohol used to mean for her and how her sober life is going now. She relied on alcohol, so now that this is no longer an option she has to re-evaluate everything in her life, which leads to some great and very witty observations on her newfound life. Rebecca Weller was in a weird state of denial. She is a health coach, after all, so she knew better than anyone that she had to quit her growingly dysfunctional relationship with alcohol.

The problem was that she was also terrified of what this would mean. At 39, would she become a bore and be completely unable to socialize? One day she decides to try anyway and to become the subject of her very own 3-month sobriety experiment, embarking on a self-discovery journey that ends up showing her that a little even if hard change is sometimes necessary to get what you truly want in life. It is also the book for you if you consider faith to be a necessary piece for the puzzle that addiction recovery entails.

This is a story of faith and love through the journey of recovery, more than just a tale from alcoholism to sobriety. Mary Karr is known for her wit and charming style, and in these pages, she discusses pretty much all her life struggles, not only those with alcohol. This memoir is poetic and a treat for lovers of beautiful writing. These events leave her with a serious case of PTSD that in turn throw her into despair and later lands her into addiction.