Does your memoir have a theme?

Should your memoir have a theme? Yes, according to Brooke Warner. “Your memoir has an atmosphere, the air a reader breathes, and it’s called theme. Its presence is felt in every scene, whether or not it’s explicitly named by the author.” —Brooke Warner, “Back to Port,” The Writers, February 2016 “If your theme is vague, such as transformation, try to articulate what initiated your transformation.”  Warner gives the example of Wild  by Cheryl Strayed and H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, both about transformation while working through grief. Find your theme and tell your story. Read Brooke’s guest blog post, here on The Write Spot Blog: Why Keep Writing When No One Is Listening. Just Write!

Memoirs As Textbooks

Use a published memoir as a textbook to write your memoir. Read the memoir. Read it again to examine structure. Notice where author used narration vs. dialogue to tell the story. Notice the balance between fast-paced action scenes and slower, contemplative scenes. Note when and how backstory is used. Let’s use Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt as our textbook. McCourt’s ability to write as if experiencing events as they unfold, pacing, and his strong writing voice made Angela’s Ashes a New York Times beloved best seller. Angela’s Ashes takes the reader on an emotional journey. There is so much vulnerability in this book. McCourt reaches into our compassionate hearts as he tells his story, moving from childhood to adulthood. He weaves details into a story, similar to the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. McCourt taps into universal messages and themes. Understanding your theme will help to write your memoir. Possible…

Activating Your Creative Goals

Creating The Impossible Today’s Guest Blogger is Bella Mahaya Carter. I have enjoyed her blog posts. I hope you do, too. Here is one of her inspirational stories. When I was a film student in the eighties, my then-boyfriend and now-husband, Jim, and I borrowed a professional ¾-inch video camera from school and spent a long, magical afternoon taping an interview with his beloved grandmother. When we finished we had two-and-a-half hours of raw footage that required editing, but we didn’t have the equipment. One day we’ll get around to this, we thought. A few years later, after we’d married and after his grandmother had died, we wanted to keep her legacy alive by sharing the footage we took of her with the family. We agreed it would make a great holiday gift for Jim’s siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We had it transferred to VHS, but when we viewed it,…

How To Write A Memoir — Part One

Your Life. You lived it. Surely you can write about it. Right? In How To Write A Memoir, Part 1, we’ll discuss methods and ideas about writing personal stories, with links to published memoirs. How To Write A Memoir, Part 2, we’ll cover organizing, revising and more. You can write in chronological order, or build your story around pivotal events. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what structure you use. Write in a style that is comfortable for you. Try one way and if isn’t working for you, try something else. Memoirs written in chronological order (with back story woven in): To Have Not by Frances Lefkowitz  and Grief Denied by Pauline Laurent. Rachael Herron, A Life in Stitches, assembles her stories around her knitting experiences. For the first draft, it’s fine to jump around in time. Don’t worry too much about making sense in the early stage of writing….

Take Your Writing to the Next Level

Guest Blogger B. Lynn Goodwin talks about Taking Your Writing to the Next Level – A Look at Editing and Polishing So you’ve been inspired, found the time, and drafted a story or memoir that you really want to share with the world. Maybe you’ve even shared it with a critique group, or had a good friend read it to you so you could hear your own glitches. What do you need to do to take it to the next level and make it ready for publication?  Look at the content. Does everything contribute to the story you’re telling, or do you have extraneous material? Do your characters struggle, try, and give it their all? If not, is there a clear reason not to? Does that change before the end of the story? Now that you’ve drafted it, what is your story about? It might have several themes or messages….

Hippocampus Magazine wants your story about All Kinds of Weather

Hippocampus Magazine enthusiastically accepts unsolicited submissions in the following categories: memoir excerpt – a self-contained portion (chapter or selection) of a larger, book-length work personal essay – a short narrative reflecting on a particular life experience or observation flash creative nonfiction or a work of creative nonfiction in an experimental format Here is an article that discusses the difference between memoir and essay. And here is another. 2014 Theme: Weather & Acts of Nature From storms and sprinkles to earthquakes and extreme heat, Mother Nature can pack a punch or paint a pretty picture. Weather can be wacky and wild. And weather can be calm. Weather often plays a character in our everyday—and not so everyday—lives. We’re seeking tales in which the weather or even a natural disaster played a significant or supporting role. To be clear, we’re not specifically looking for stories just about bad weather or destruction; instead,…

Rubbing Aladdin’s Lamp

“The past,” Phillip Lopate says, “is an Aladdin’s lamp we never tire of rubbing.” Guest Blogger Norma Watkins studied with Phillip Lopate. The following is what she gleaned working with the master of the personal essay. The hallmark of personal essay and memoir is its intimacy. [Links below on memoir writing.] In a personal essay, the writer seems to be speaking directly into the reader’s ear, confiding everything from gossip to wisdom: thoughts, memories, desires, complaints, whimsies. The core of this kind of writing is the understanding that there is a certain unity to human experience. As Montaigne put it, “Every man has within himself the entire human condition.” This kind of informal writing, whether a short piece or a book of memoir, is characterized by: self-revelation individual tastes and experiences a confidential manner humor a graceful style rambling structure unconventionality novelty of theme freshness of form freedom from stiffness…