Guest Bloggers

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…

Just Write

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….