• Brooke Berman
  • A Few Things I Leared About Memoir-writing in 2009 (the year I sold and then wrote my memoir!)
A Few Things I Leared About Memoir-writing in 2009 (the year I sold and then wrote my memoir!)
Written by
Brooke Berman
December 2009
Written by
Brooke Berman
December 2009
1. The re-investigation is healing. The way we remember, organize and tell our stories -- and the way the events weave themselves together in the telling -- has power. 2. I was shocked to find that people I'd lost my heart to disappeared entirely while other people showed up as full-blown characters in the narrative. Case in point: some of the guys turned out to be inessential, not part of the real story, while a girl I met at a dinner party in Queens, who provided a genuine shift in consciousness, became a pivotal character. 3. Remembering doesn't make it so. I really loved fact-checking the narrative, names of cafes and restaurants, dates, peripheral players. Put my past as a fact-checker (Paper Mag) to use. Everything has value. 4. "Ultimately we care about memoirs because we crave stories." Eryn Loeb. 5. Real honesty takes more than one draft.

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  • jodi sh doff

    Love that last point "Real honesty takes more than one draft." I've also found it pretty interesting and revealing between the fact checking (really? I could've sworn it was over there and I was two years younger) to rewriting what I'd written and seeing how I'd left all emotion and feelings out of parts of my story. Exactly the way I had to live to get through them, but did not make for good reading. I always keep in mind Anne Lamotts permission to write shitty first drafts. Congrats on the sale.

  • Brooke Berman

    Exactly! I had the luxury of being at Yaddo when I was working on the last draft, and I too did the "Really?" busting process. "Really?... Really? Is that the most honest thing you can say about that moment?"

    The book is called No Place Like Home. It comes out on June 8, 2010, published by Harmony Books, Random House. I am very, very excited. As a playwright, I'm used to dealing with ephemeral creations -- the play exists while it is being performed and then, it sort of goes away. But with a book, there is physical evidence, an artifact, some tangible item proving that the creative act did, in fact, occur.

    Happy New Year to you, Kami and SheWrites. Thanks for creating this forum!

  • Kamy Wicoff Brainstorming

    I couldn't agree more with #5 -- when I wrote my memoir I engaged in an intense editing process I called, in high-falutin' literary style, "busting myself." Every time I thought I'd explained my actions or feelings, every time I arrived at a place that felt like the honest truth, I asked five or ten or twenty more times, "really?" And often the best ideas, the really lasting things, came from that process of pushing myself again and again. Thanks for contributing this -- and what's the name of your memoir? And when does it come out!? Congratulations...