"All writing, even fiction, contains some truth. Characters are usually based, at least in part, on someone we've met in our lives. Our perceptions, beliefs, and experiences can’t help but come through in our stories.As with most of my writing, it's often my hope that it will help someone else. We go through tough times in our life for a reason. Perhaps to make us stronger, perhaps to make us realize how far we've come, perhaps to teach us something...but definitely in the hope that our difficult times will not be for nothing. In the process of telling my story, it is my biggest hope that it will help someone else not only get through their own tough time, but to tell their own story too.
But when writing memoir, the author can’t hide behind a character. And no matter how much you might try to avoid telling a story, it will eventually have to be written or you just can’t move on with your life. I read somewhere that author Kathryn Harrison had to write about her incestuous relationship with her father, something that had been running in her head for years. When she finally wrote it out, she was no longer blocked. Said Harrison, “One of the solaces that art can offer you is the chance to make something out of what’s hurt you. You can objectify an experience, put it on paper, craft it, and shape it. There’s perhaps an illusionary control over it. But it is significant.”
I wrote my memoir piece for the anthology Voices of Multiple Sclerosis several years after being diagnosed with the disease. As often happens with me, essays start to flow out once I have that first line—and it just had to be shared. I suppose it is the same with all artists: writers need to write as painters need to paint as musicians need to play. Many love songs are about being heartbroken; many paintings express incredible pain. I am inspired every day by other people’s stories—told in whatever medium they choose. That is part of the reason I decided to make a very personal piece a public one."
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Selling Your Book & Memoir, Part 2
My latest article was sent to me today, a piece on memoir writing for the Loft Literary Center's A View from the Loft. The first part of this I wrote about on April 30, 2010...here is an excerpt from the second, No Longer Silent: On Memoir: