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Your Life is Your Story, Issue #088 – Thanks for the Memoir
July 25, 2011

"Your past is your story up to now. The future is the story yet to come. The present is where you live with that experience, your hopes and your dreams."

Your Life is Your Story Newsletter

July 25, 2011
Issue #088 – Thanks for the Memoir

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Turning Up the Heat
Featured Article – Thanks for the Memoir
Resource You Can Use

Opening Remarks: Turning Up the Heat

This summer in the States has been a very hot one. Across most of the nation temperatures have climbed beyond 90 degrees and into the triple digits. Sweltering, sweating and maybe even a little swearing are not uncommon for those suffering from the July heat index.

In New Mexico we are used to warm weather in the summer. Being an arid region our heat is mostly dry, but that doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable. We’ve been way below our rainfall expectations, meager that it is, until just the past few days when we’ve gratefully received some rain and thunderstorms. Today it is actually muggy compared to our normal low humidity levels. Nevertheless, I enjoy summertime. It’s a time that spurs memories. This month’s newsletter turns a focus to memoir, that special form of life reminiscing. Thanks for reading.

You are receiving this e-zine because you signed up for it or someone who is subscribed passed it along to you. If a friend DID forward this to you consider subscribing by visiting our signup page . Also, let me know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter – simply reply to this email e-zine.

While the main focus of this newsletter is to share thoughts, ideas, and insights on life story writing you should know that I offer various services and also mention some products and services that can be helpful. You are under no obligation to purchase anything, but if any of these products or services are helpful and you decide to utilize them then I am most grateful.

Thanks for reading. – Tom

Featured Article: Thanks for the Memoir

By Tom Gilbert - Copyright © July, 2011

Let us give thanks for the memoir. It is the life story format that most offers insight and meaning. I truly believe this because memoir doesn’t require a full chronological reminiscence from birth to now. Instead, as Lisa Dale Norton, author of Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir, puts it, "Memoir involves the whittling away of a whole lot of stuff that you have lived and a focusing on one slim section, full of power, that demands to be told".

Norton’s book is a gem for giving insight into generating deep life reflection, finding your voice, all the while inspiring you with her poetic prose.

Another fine memoir guide is Turning Memories into Memoirs by Denis LeDoux. He’s been helping people with memoir and life story writing (both authors and personal historians) since 1988 and his book works like a textbook. Indeed, it is used in his workshops. He helps you sort through memories, fit your story into a wider historical context, write vivid dialogue and discover techniques to make your writing tighter, better and meaning packed.

William Zinsser, noted writer and writer-helper, has an excellent “how-to” article on memoir writing (here). He includes some sage advice, like not worrying about the privacy of others included in your story while you are writing it (that could stifle you), but do be considerate after the fact (you might show it to family members and friends who should see it ahead of time). He also stresses writing with honesty and insight and that the point of your memoir is not “public therapy”. We’ve seen way too many memoirs in recent years that are nothing but whining and griping and airing dirty laundry. Your memoir should add something to the human story – the one that links us all together. It is your unique outlook on life and what it is all about. Resist the urge to use your memoir as a club to strike back at all those who’ve wronged you. Audiences prefer rising above struggles over revenge-tainted tales of woe.

Towards that end I thoroughly enjoyed the humor and pathos of the coming-of-age tale I just finished reading by Josh Wilker. Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards is not just the story of a kid growing up in the 70’s. Baseball and his card collection gave him something to cling to, something real, while he dealt with being raised in a decidedly unusual family arrangement. It’s his journey from boyhood innocence through young adult distress, cynicism and eventual redemption.

Reading a good memoir takes us on a journey. We all are on one. Writing your memoir can teach important life lessons, both to you and others. Do that and we’ll be thanking you for the memoir.

Read other articles on life-story writing here.

Resource You Can Use

Memoir Writing Teleclasses

A new round of the popular 14-week introductory and intermediate Turning Memories into Memoirs teleclasses offered by the Soleil LifeStory Network are starting up in September. Many people have found these classes to be invaluable help in getting their memoir written. It could be the direction and push you need. Consider investing in them. There is a $100 discount during early registration, now to August 14. More information is available here.

Closing Information

That’s it for this month’s issue. Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit our blog regularly, and here’s to telling your story. Do give it some serious consideration because I just know you’ve got a great story to tell! Be sure to see the Get Started section.

Any comments, ideas or feedback is greatly appreciated. Just reply to this ‘zine and tell me what you think!

Until next time, – keep your story alive!

Tom Gilbert

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