Memoir Writing: Easy as Falling Off a Cliff

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Memoir Writing: Easy as Falling Off a Cliff

“Have you written your memoirs?” she asked me. I’m a biographer so the question leaves a big, long echo resounding in the air until I answer. It’s a test, I know. “I’ve written…parts,” I confess. A mini-memoir about my last year with my mom before she died (“My Name As A Prayer” on Amazon.com). A…

Read More June 4, 2013

Paris in the Snow

Somewhere over the cold Atlantic, French words start sailing through the waters of my memory. Seventh- and eighth-grade French classes (thank you, Mrs. Watts!) and my three previous trips reward me now. “Bonjour madame!” I say to the border policewoman at the airport, feigning confidence. I manage the airport ATM, withdraw  Euros (high to the dollar…

Read More January 29, 2013

How to write your memoirs – organize by decade

The first step in beginning to write your memoirs is to think by decade. Create an outline that allows you to organize your memories by decade. This is only one of many approaches, but it helps the beginner because most people just do not know where to begin. If you map your life roughly by…

Read More November 27, 2012

The Wake: Spirit Singing for the Dead

Last week I was asked to play harp and tone for a three-day vigil over the dead body of a friend. Dear Claire followed anthroposophy (see Rudolf Steiner), which holds that the soul hovers around the body for a while after the heart stops beating. They prescribe that the body be attended for three days…

Read More November 19, 2012

Florence Nightingale and the Divine Feminine

Working with a client’s biography this morning, I took time to look briefly at one of my client’s heroes: the Italian-born Florence Nightingale. Nightingale felt a spiritual calling when she was a teenage girl. In thousands of pages of writings she left behind, she describes a painful awareness of the suffering of others, particularly European soldiers fighting…

Read More November 6, 2012

Hire a Memoir Author On A Budget

“Dad’s birthday is coming up and I don’t know what to get him,” the voice said. “I thought maybe the perfect gift would be to hire a memoir author.” A memoir is certainly the gift for the person who has everything, who seems to need nothing. It is the ultimate gift. Most of the memoirs…

Read More September 6, 2012

“We left Dad’s memoir at the nurse’s station”

When Tip Tyler was under nurse’s care in the last two weeks of his 94 years of life, his son found a new use for the book I wrote about Tip. “We left the book you wrote about Dad at the nurse’s station,” Steve told me. “They had a great time reading it and seeing…

Read More August 24, 2012

First Person vs Third Person in a Memoir

I’ve spent seven days hip-to-hip with my client here in Memphis along the slow-moving Mississippi and throughout this great city. This morning, as I prepare to accompany her to her beloved Nazarene church in North Memphis, I realize that I now have my client’s voice “in” me. Walking by the river as a pair of…

Read More July 22, 2012

What to Avoid in Working With Graphic Artists

“I am only paying $4 book to print my book,” the first-time author said to me. “Wow! That is fantastic,” I told her. “For how many copies? How many do you print at a time?” “As many or as few as I want,” she said. “And how about your design costs?” I asked. “Oh, well…”…

Read More June 2, 2012

Memory and Emotional Trauma

Getting my memoir client, H, to talk about March, 1945 is not easy. She lived through the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945. “Those three hours went very quickly,” she says, in our initial interviews. “We lost the whole house. It worked out fine, really. Nobody was really hurt or burned in our family.” It is…

Read More May 25, 2012