Love is arguably the emotion that matters most. We are born loving, reaching out blindly for our mother’s love, and continuing to search for love our whole lives, bending toward its warmth like a flower swiveling its face towards the sun. Love is universal, but the key to writing about love successfully is sink down […]
Lately I have been reading Edith Wharton’s memoir, A Backward Glance, and I am most struck by the early chapters when she describes her childhood. The young Edith was a dreamy, sensitive child who loved nothing so much as rambles in the countryside, and who was devoted to her dog. “The owning of my first […]
For the most part, we writers are a solitary, introverted bunch. But much as we may enjoy our own company and the quiet musings of our imaginations, we also need to come out of our corners and play with others. Enter writing classes, circles, retreats and other gatherings. In my youth, I was so devastated […]
In my elemental system of memoir, January is an Earth month, and Earth represents the childhood ground of our being. So here it is, January, and I’m thinking about my childhood. Over the holidays, my mom pulled out an oversize Brooks Brothers suit box brimming with artwork that my brother and I had created in […]
Every New Year is another opportunity for setting goals and resolutions for the year to come. Here are three resolutions that will be useful for anyone working on a memoir—or thinking about starting a memoir project. Be bold. In your first draft, have the courage to write what wants to come through you, without […]
Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, always gets me thinking about the fleeting passage of time. It’s a cliché to say that life is short, but once you get to middle age, that’s indeed how it feels.
One of the gifts of writing memoir is that you get to play games with time. In lived experience, a day can seem short or long, but it’s always the same number of minutes and hours ticking away. Not so in narrative.
As Virginia Woolf showed us so beautifully with her novel Mrs. Dalloway, which takes place over the course of a single day, when we set out to tell a story, we can do all kinds of tricks with time. A crucial hour can be slowed down and looked at from multiple viewpoints, all its facets separated out and narrated with full complexity, including the flashbacks of memory that give our minute-by-minute lives temporal depth and breadth.
As the days grow shorter and darker on our way to the Winter Solstice, I always find myself in a more introspective mood. I want to shut out the blare of the headlines, turn down the next holiday party invitation, and just make myself cozy at home, lighting candles against the press of darkness beyond […]
When you set out to write a memoir, it’s natural to assume that the focus is going to be on you. Yes, it’s your story, but no one is an island; it would be a pretty dull account if you tried to simply talk about yourself without including your constant interactions with other people, along […]
As a memoirist, I’ve had to think long and hard about some of the #MeToo issues that are now buzzing around the public sphere. When you write memoir, you generally don’t get too far before you run up against thorny questions of how much to reveal about your past, especially when telling your story means […]
I recently joined my oldest friend, Audrey Kalman, at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California to lead a writing workshop called “Birthing Your Truest Stories.” The theme seemed right to us because it integrates Audrey’s work as a birth doula and writer with my work as a memoirist as well as teacher and scholar of […]