How Did I Write My Memoir?
Contributor
Written by
D,G. Kaye
November 2013
Contributor
Written by
D,G. Kaye
November 2013

I was ecstatic to find that The Carnival of Indies, November publication, included my article on writing my memoir. I have copied the post here:

Looking back on the journey of my book’s creation, Conflicted Hearts, I found myself going over the process from where I began.  As a first time, soon-to-be author, in the final stages getting ready for publication, I found that as the months went by in the ‘go go go mode’, that when I finally reached the final edited version is when I stood back and went ahh, wow, how did I get here?

I think the process for writing in memoir is different for each writer. We all devise our own system to organize best, the way we work. For me, it was a little bit of trial and error in the beginning of the organizational stages. As I worked feverishly through the writing stages by day, I spent long nights reading many books; not only for writing but for self publishing, marketing. I also learned that my computer had many more facets for me to master than I had ever realized. I spent some time trying to learn Scrivener which many writers use and recommend. I even read ‘Scrivener for Dummies’ but I couldn’t quite get a handle on it so I threw in the towel and I focused my efforts on learning ‘Word Styles’. Thanks to Joel Friedlander, www.thebookdesigner.com and his exceptionally helpful newsletter I subscribe to and my new best friend ‘google’, I successfully got my manuscript into Word using styles.

Writing my book, I’d have to say was more enjoyable than what comes after, ie: revisions, revisions and more revisions, marketing, keeping up with social media and learning a myriad of other programs and applications. Writing memoir for me became so cathartic. There is something about getting raw emotions out of your head and on to paper that evokes a sense of new-found freedom. Pent up emotions can have a propensity to consume one.

As I wrote, sure I had stopped many times along the way and questioned myself on how can I publish this book when I will be exposing so much of myself as well as others. Then I’d remember the many books I’d read along the way which all said, keep writing, don’t stop to second guess yourself, don’t edit along the way, write freely, write what you know, everything else will be saved for revisions. Those were the helpful things which kept my writing sane. One of the most helpful books I went back to many times which helped me organize my thoughts and writing on memoir was Linda Joy Myers’, Journey of Memoir. Another great book was William Zinsser’s , On Writing Well. I began to understand the difference between autobiography and memoir. Memoir is a theme in your life. They can be short essays, vignettes or really how one chooses to set it up but there is always a theme with intent to send out a message. Zinsser writes…Write vignettes of particular events and when you think you are done, put them all together and you will find your theme.

I had kept a journal for years, I’d often write about things that tugged at my heart strings or summations of events that took place in my life through the years. The funny part was that for all I wrote, I had never gone back and re-visited my writings. When I began going through my pages and re-read and began making some law and order out of them, it became to easy for me to fill in the gaps by following my memories from the pages I had already written. I had always prided myself on an excellent memory and ironically these past few years, my recent memory sometimes escapes me, such as what I ate for dinner yesterday, yet my long-term memory can clearly recall events in my life as far back as three years old…What’s up with that anyway? I also began to deal with the uncomfortable feelings I began having about actually publishing what I had written. As a person who always tried to avoid sharing her private life and hurting someone’s feelings, when my book’s theme presented itself to me, I began having anxiety about some of the people in the book who may not be particularly pleased to be in it. I tried to cut stuff and I did but some of the events were pertinent to my book’s theme that I couldn’t cut anymore. ‘Write what you know,’ I kept saying to myself as it became my mantra.

My theme became very apparent. I really didn’t know what it was until I got so involved with the writing and looking back on what I had already written. How I didn’t recognize it right off the bat was absurd, as I tried hard to deny it. All roads led to the emotional guilt I had lived with all my life. Whether I chose to recognize it or not, it was a fact. No matter what ventures I took in life; the ups and the downs, the guilt I carried from my mother, never seemed to escape me. I once had a conversation with a relative of mine when she discovered I was writing this book. There was no praise or well-wishes. Instead, I got questioned, ‘Who is this book about?’, she asked emphatically. ‘Your mother?’ I replied, ‘No, the book is about me, and yes, my mother plays a part in it because her actions affected much of my life.’ She acted as though I were writing in vengeance instead of trying to understand that I was writing to express where I had come from, how I came to be and what I had learned and how I dealt with life. I know people will always see things in a different light than perhaps the writer does, but memoir is the writer’s ‘truth’. Some see only what they want to see; some will never understand the lessons.

As memoir writers, it is our job to tell our truth. It is our point of view from how we lived and experienced our life. Sometimes it cannot be sugar-coated and the characters involved cannot be adorned for more than who they were. It is brutal and sometimes painful to write in memoir. I have learned this first hand. Many tears I had shed during the making of my book. I hope that my readers can gain some insight from it and realize how susceptible children really are to their environments in childhood and how absolutely a childhood is the beginning of the formation of his/her character.

Below, I’d like to pass on some really helpful books and sites that I found invaluable amongst many others:

Journey of Memoir – Three stages of Memoir Writing………………Linda Joy Myers

On Writing…………………………………………………………………………………..Stephen King

On Writing Well……………………………………………………………………………William Zinsser

Writing About Your Life……………………………………………………………….William Zinsser

Writing The Memoir – From Truth to Art……………………………………..Judith Barrington

Bird By Bird…………………………………………………………………………………..Anne Lamott

 

In the next two weeks, I will be posting a short excerpt from my upcoming book, Conflicted Hearts as an introductory prelude to its publication, feel free to click on my Conflicted Hearts page for a brief synopsis and after it is published there will be a link there where you will be able to purchase it at Amazon, both in e-book and print.

 

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

Comments
No comments yet