Tips on Writing & Publishing Memoir

I couldn't have summed up my recent talk at the Writers Forum any better myself, so I'll just link you right to writer Nicole Zimmerman's excellent summary at Paper-Pencil-Pen.

To jumpstart the evening's discussion on writing and publishing memoir and personal essays, I interviewed myself, asking and then answering tough questions, such as "What if you can't remember every detail?" and "After you published your memoir, did your parents stop speaking to you?"

Bonus: my shoes get some press...

maryjanes on steroids

At the Writers Forum, I not only wore these shoes, but I also talked a bit about the distinction between the process of writing a memoir or personal essay and the process of publishing one. When writing, I don't think about anyone, such as my parents, reading it, because I need to write freely and allow the thoughts, feelings, and images to emerge. Censorship in any form, including self-censorship that comes from a fear of hurting someone, hampers the creative process. But publishing--making this writing public--is a whole other story. Then you have some decisions to make about what you are willing to reveal and risk in your life, for the sake of your art. When my memoir manuscript was about to become a book, I gave it a final read, looking just at how I had portrayed the people in my life, especially the ones I wanted to remain my life. What I nipped and tucked did not hurt the veracity of the memoir, and may even have improved it, because I applied an extra layer of empathy. And empathy is so crucial to a good memoir--and a good life.

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