The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life
Paperback – June 9, 2011
Presents a guide to writing a memoir, discussing such topics as subject matter, point of view, and editing.
The greatest story you could write is the one you experienced yourself. Knowing where to start is the hardest part, but it just got a little easier with this essential guidebook for anyone wanting to write a memoir.
Did you know that the #1 thing that baby boomers want to do in retirement is write a book--about themselves? It's not that every person has lived such a unique or dramatic life, but we inherently understand that writing a memoir--whether it's a book, blog, or just a letter to a child--is the single greatest path to self-examination.
Smith (The Roots of Desire, 2006, etc.) helps kick-start the writing process.
Everybody has a story to tell. Some people dream of putting their stories in a book while others want to blog, write letters or record family history. Smith, who is also a workshop teacher, gives the honest nuts and bolts of memoir writing. She does not use standard and stale exercises or prompts to fill the pages of this slim volume, but rather a blend of anecdotes and unusual tips to help would-be writers "vomit up a draft." What makes this guide stand out from the rest is its complete lack of academic posturing. Smith does not constantly drop famous names or drone on about Paris. Instead, the author uses real, plainspoken examples from her life and writing, such as the memorable story of her mother's struggle with Alzheimer's. Seasoned writers should proceed with caution: Anyone who has taken Composition 101 will have heard much of this advice before, such as "write what you know" and "show, don't tell." But readers looking for a push in the right direction will find Smith's instructions highly accessible and inspiring. Her first-person narrative style is breezy and friendly, and the beginning lays out the three overarching rules for memoir writing. Chapters have catchy subtitles, with easy-to-understand examples, from how to choose a subject to style to editing. Other advice includes a list of go-to reference materials and how to navigate writing about sex.
Spare but practical resource for beginners--a good reference for library programs or community workshops.
About the Author
Marion Roach Smith, co-founder of TheSisterProject.com, has taught a sold-out class called "Writing What You Know" since 1998. She is the author of The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair (Bloomsbury, 2005); co-author with Michael Baden, M.D., of Dead Reckoning (Simon and Schuster, 2001); and author of Another Name for Madness (Houghton Mifflin, Pocket Books, 1986). She is a former staff member of The New York Times and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Prevention, New York Daily News, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Discover and American Health. Marion has been a commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and writes and records daily and weekly spots on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112/XM 157.