Writing Life

Writing Life

Mine has always been a writing life. As soon as I learned how to write, I had a notebook in which I began recording the events of my days, and writing the stories and poems that came insistently into my imagination. I was a dedicated journal-keeper, especially in my first thirty years when it seemed […]

Writing Love

Writing Love

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 […]

Pictures of Childhood

Pictures of Childhood

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 […]

Three New Year’s Resolutions for Memoirists

Three New Year’s Resolutions for Memoirists

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 […]

Playing with time: the work of the memoirist

Playing with time: the work of the memoirist

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.