Universal memoir themes

As promised a few days ago, I’d like to offer a list of universal memoir themes. Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story: The Art of the Personal Narrative, says: “Every work of literature has both a situation and a story. The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer – the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say.” The story is the work of literature’s theme. In my book: Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide Plot (situation) = the suicide of a gifted bipolar musician brings parents grief, guilt, and anger Theme (story) = 1) limits the mother has in controlling and protecting her son, 2) surviving the son’s suicide, and 3) the mother’s journey to claim her own creative powers I’ve listed below some other universal theme ideas for lifestory and memoir writ … [Read more...]

How to write a novel

I was smitten with the following photo that pranced around Facebook yesterday courtesy of Melissa Foster. It makes the writing of a novel seem so simple and the deterrents to writing a novel so easy to solve. I’ve been working on my novel for about four years – off and on. I revised and got my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, published in the meantime, and I spend a lot of time every day marketing it. However, I don’t let any of that take away from my writing time and my commitment to my novel. What I want to do is to briefly comment on the photo I’ve shared here and let you know where I am in my novel’s process. Think up a story I was fortunate to have a story fall into my lap from my aunt’s lifestory writing, and when I presented the idea at my first novel-writing workshop, it was very readily accepted. I’ve, of course, fictionalized her true story, making up characters, dialogue, events, and locales. However, I’ve tried very hard to be historically ac … [Read more...]

Writing Life Stories

We were out to dinner with our friends Patti and Pat the other night and Patti shared with me that she’s taking a writing class at her church. I’ve never known that Patti had an interest in writing, so I was fascinated to know that this is a class in lifestory writing – a topic that’s been very much on my mind lately. I also discussed it with a friend who works at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Los Angeles, suggesting they offer a class for the folks who live there. As people age, we mustn’t lose their stories. We must find a way to record and save their stories for future generations. I would love to teach the class should the Jewish Home decide to offer it. Writing life stories has become all the rage. We’re in the so-called Memoir Revolution with volumes written about how to write your life story or memoir and how to produce it into a book. One in particular is Sharon M. Lippincott’s The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing: How to Transform Memoires into Meaningful … [Read more...]

Sharon Melton Lippincott – My first guest

I’m so honored to have Sharon Melton Lippincott as my first guest. We met a few months ago when we both participated on a Google+ hangout, and we have found a mutual connection regarding memoir and lifestory writing ever since. Sharon wrote a wonderful review of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On for the Story Circle Book Reviews, which I’m sure helped catapult it to the Story Circle Editors’ book pick for November. Thank you so much, Sharon, for being here today. And that you chose to write about reading my book is a huge bonus! A Writer’s Read on Leaving the Hall Light On by Sharon Melton Lippincott About five years ago I responded to a challenge and began posting reviews of books on Amazon and other sites, unaware that doing so would change the way I read and ultimately the way I write. Over sixty reviews later, I can honestly say that the enjoyment and value I get from reading has at least tripled. This enhanced reading mode led me to notice many fascinating aspects … [Read more...]