Getting started on your memoir

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Getting started on your memoir

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1GeneRuyle
Editado: Sep 25, 2011, 11:09am

"Memoir: if you don't do it, it won't get done." -Ruyle

Do you have any books on writing your autobiography or memoir? I have about eight or nine. The hardest part is getting over your idea of the whole as a "big thing" and start getting some words on a page. Then, you have something to work with and enough to keep it going.

Annie Dillard's few opening words in The Writing Life, get down to some basics that may even provide a sense of direction.

"When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a woodcarver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. You wield it and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year."

In the "Seven gateways into the world" group, particularly in the gateway on history, this is where we start.

2oldsalt01
Nov 24, 2011, 10:16am

Thanks Gene for starting this group.

I was surprized to see so few messages or groups in the Library Thing devoted to this topic when, in theory, everyone has their own story to write, save and pass on to others. Am working (slowly) on a memoir of my father, an unusual man who anticipated several of the 1960's movements in the 1940's and 1950's. I have many of his journal entries, letters to and from him, plus other info. Am trying to find a way to make it interesting to a wider audience than just our family. Someday want to do the same with my life.

I agree very much with your quote--if I don't do it, it won't get done. Also with Annie Dillard that the pen, or word processor, once moving, can take on a life of its own.

3oldsalt01
Nov 24, 2011, 10:17am

I forgot to add that the Life Story Center at the University of Southern Maine is a start towards archiving every one's (or at least about 250 people's) life stories.

4lilithcat
Nov 24, 2011, 10:23am

> 2

Am trying to find a way to make it interesting to a wider audience

Yes, please. As someone who has read a lot of memoirs, may I say that the first thing a writer should do is determine whether he actually has something new and interesting to say, or whether writing about his dysfunctional family/addiction issues/heartwarming adoption story/loss of loved one is merely stroking his own ego. There are far too many of those sorts of memoirs clogging up bookstore space. (And being famous doesn't relieve the writer of that responsibility!)

5GeneRuyle
Ene 9, 2012, 6:47pm

>2 oldsalt01:, >3 oldsalt01:, and 4> ~

I hope you two will both forgive my being so tardy in reply to your postings, but of late I have been "out of pocket" (Library Thing's pocket, that is) and didn't come upon them until today.

You are both making very important observations about this mixed genra that directly -- and also indirectly -- affects people like most all of us at Library Thing. I will be getting back to both of you within the coming week (now that my schedule is lightening up since my blog is finally opened and in full swing).

I gather responding to your respective profile pages is the best way to do this, right? If not, please let me know the other suitable means to accomplish this.

Looking forward to much more sharing with you both on all this! For now, please receive my sincere and overflowing thanks sent to you both. ;- ) -G.