This week, we're taking a look at the subject of memoir writing. Hardly a day goes by that we don't hear of yet another celebrity tell-all book, and a quick Google search will bring up thousands of once-and-future life stories of the rich and famous. Memoirs are so hot that people are fabricating juicy ones just to get a slice of the publishing pie.
First let's quickly define a memoir. It isn't an autobiography in which a person details his life from birth until now. It's a portion of that story told less as straight fact, and more from the author's subjective view of events and aspects of their life. To that end, the creative possibilities are endless, and indeed many contemporary memoirs are as fascinating and thought-provoking as a well-written novel.
I first started thinking about memoir after answering an extensive questionnaire for the movie, Brats: Our Journey Home. Upon completion, I realized that not only did I have a tremendous word-count, but some interesting opinions and insights about a life that seemed very American, but actually had more diversity and foreign culture at its very core than most Americans could ever imagine. In short, there was a story in-the-making that might resonate with more people than just other military brats.
About the same time, I discovered the Story Circle Network, an organization started by novelist, Susan Wittig Albert, solely for the purpose of encouraging women to share their own unique stories, no matter how common or boring they might seem. Those stories through history were often verbal, or embedded in the feminine crafts, for history itself was ordinarily written by men. It was time women's "herstories" were documented with the written word and by women themselves.
I joined the national network and the on-line chapter as well. My first experience was with an on-line writing circle, and the Internet chapter's weekly prompts that helped guide the exploration of my own life. As time went on, I became more and more involved and interested in not only other memoirs, but my own life experience as well.
There are many other benefits in belonging to the Story Circle Network. The group offers a conference every two years, runs the largest book review site for women's publications, gives on-line classes in various writing-related topics, has a new editing service for memoirists, and a Yahoo!group for members to chat on a daily basis. Oh, and a fabulous blog, Telling Herstories: The Broad View. For women interested in writing down their life stories, this group offers support that would be tough to find anywhere else.
So what's in store for the rest of the week? Tomorrow our editor, Heidi Thomas, will discuss the reasons for turning a memoir into a piece of fiction, and then Robin Brooks of The Beauty of Books will explain what's involved in designing a memoir, inside and out. Later in the week, we'll talk with Susan Wittig Albert about how she came to start the Story Circle Network and chat a bit about her own memoir which was just published. We hope you'll join us every day.
What about the rest of you? Do you keep a daily journal? Have you considered writing your memoir or been approached by someone to help them write about their lives? Do you read memoirs and if so, what are some of your favorite titles? Leave us a comment.