Welcome to spring!
The roses are blooming all over! Fragrant scenes, birdsong, and blossoms, all shades of green, wafting soft breezes, happy earthworms—spring has sprung! Our minds melt a bit with all this fecundity going on, new life, birth, the fruits of the harvest to come are set. All this growth and new life stimulates our creativity, reminding us to dig into the treasures of our hearts and souls as we write our memoir.
First, I want to say that it was indeed a festival of creativity and friendship at the Story Circle Memoir Conference in Austin. It was like coming home—I’ve presented there almost every year since the conference began 10 years ago—and it was so fun to see colleagues and students. There were groups of people gathering from all over the United States and Canada, and connections reignited, even old connections renewed in person.
I enjoyed a glass of wine here with Paula—a wonderful writer I’ve known online for nearly three years—but finally we met in person!
Northern California presenters at the Story Circle Conference were well represented by three of us in this photo:
We put our heads together to talk about new projects, and shared our ideas about the conference and presentations. Stay tuned to find out about our creativity spurts as we ate dinner while the Texas wind whipped the trees and tablecloths at our outdoor café. We are going to start something new together, and will tell you about it as soon as we figure it out!
May Events and Tips—Year of the Memoir
Remember, every month of this year invites you to make more progress on your memoir. Tuning into the glorious light of the season, how are you shining your creative light onto your memoir writing?
Here’s a checklist of questions you can ask yourself about the progress of your memoir.
- How many words each month/week/day is my goal?
- How many words am I writing? Keep a running list on your computer.
- What are my turning point stories—the most important ones to include? List them again and compare to your last list. Maybe you thought of some new stories to add.
- How many turning point stories have I finished? How many are started?
- What inspired you to keep writing: List three things.
- What skill sets do you need to develop? How are you doing that?
- Remember, writing 500 words a day gets you to a first draft completed manuscript in six months!
There are several stages to writing a memoir, but the most important thing is to keep writing, to invite your muse to the page even when you think you have nothing to say. This happens to me all the time–including when I write the newsletter! But when we are engaged, when our fingers are in place and we are focused on the screen, something clicks in that invites words, creativity, and ideas to come forward. Perhaps you write slowly–I know a lot of people who are frustrated with how much time it takes to get the words out, but you can only write one word at a time! Be patient with yourself. If you write fast, great, let your fingers fly and know that you will be coming back to edit and revise.
The Stages of Memoir Writing
1. Beginnings–first draft, freewrite of your memories, significant moments and turning points. Making lists, keeping dream journals, and interviewing others can help you with your beginnings.
2. The Middle–aka “The Muddy Middle” where it seems you are moving in slow motion through the book; you wonder if you are writing a book! You forget why you are writing a book, and can have small breakdowns as the writing drives you deeper into insights and ahas you are not too sure you wanted to have. But keep writing. It will all get resolved at the end.
3. Last stage–if it’s your first draft, you can smell the ending, you can imagine it. You might even write the last scene just so you know it is there. After your first draft there is more work to do, but now you have downloaded most of the material onto the page and can approach the memoir as a creative project to edit and revise.
Stick with your writing! There will be rewards for every page, chapter, and revision–it’s a matter of having faith.
This month’s guests at NAMW
Free Roundtable Discussion – May 10
Roundtable Discussion May 10—Guest Naomi Rose
Date: May 10, 2012 Time: 4 PM PDT; 5 PM MDT; 6 PM CDT; 7 PM EDT
I’m so pleased to join Naomi Rose to talk about memoir writing this week at our Roundtable Discussion! She and I both like to dig deep into the subject of memoir writing, and look at the layers of self and the riches that can be discovered when writing layer after layer of the truths of our lives. Bring your questions to the call, and the ways that you have learned to dig deep and share those with us. Or bring how it might be challenging to you to become vulnerable in your writing—perhaps you are afraid of what your family will say, or you don’t yet have a perspective on the past the way you’d like to. All that is grist for the mill—of your memoir and our discussion.
Member Teleseminar—May 18
Time: 11 AM PDT; 12 PM MDT; 1 PM CDT; 2 PM EDT
How do you use your journal to help you write your memoir? I wrote my entire book Don’t Call Me Mother in my journal, scribbling away in coffee houses, on the train, on my lap, at home in a moment of inspiration. I felt like wasn’t “really writing” yet, so I could muse and gather images and memories without feeling under pressure to “write a book.” Amber will offer many tips, techniques, and skill sets that draw upon your journal to help you sketch and finish your memoir.
Dawn Novotny, Author of RagDoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe , will be our guest at the WOW blog tour hosted at NAMW May 18. Be sure to check in with our blog that day and ask questions and make comments for Dawn. She began her memoir in Linda Joy Myers’ Spiritual Memoir Workshop.
We all face obstacles in our lives. Some days it seems just too tough to go on, battling against our problems. The memoir RagDoll Redeemed: Growing Up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe will be an inspiration to everyone who reads it, no matter what demons they face in their own life. RagDoll Redeemed is the story of Dawn Novotny’s triumph over the problems that seemed destined to conquer her.
Write and Publish Your Book in 2012 Intensive Weekend
I’m so pleased to present story crafting and structure at Beth Barany’s local San Francisco Bay Area workshop. Book marketing, publishing, story craft, and more will be covered in this intensive workshop! Read about it here: Write and Publish Your Book in 2012 Intensive Weekend
7 Graces of Marketing Global Conference
I’m going to London! Lynn Serafinn, one of our member teleseminar presenters and a fantastic presenter at our 2012 Telesummit in April, is gathering people from all over the world to talk about how we can share our work in a holistic way, rather “hard selling.” I know you writers aren’t wanting to do a hard sell on your memoir–in fact I have trouble getting many of you to realize that selling is not automatically a nasty or bad or intrusive thing. Instead, it’s a way to share our creativity and passion–and our books!
I’m excited to participate in the conference and to meet Lynn in person! BUT–you don’t have to go to London to join in on this three day intensive that will teach you about the “7 Graces of Marketing” and how to stay away from the “7 Sins of Marketing.” The whole conference will be simulcast–so you can attend from the comfort of your desk.
Click the banner below if you are interested in learning more about the conference or to sign up. I’ll be sending back reports!
Memorial Day Membership Sale
We only discount membership a few times each year, so make sure to take advantage of our upcoming membership sale! From May 23-29, we will be offering new memberships at the discounted rate of $129 and renewals will only be $127. Regular price for membership is $149. Keep your eyes out for more details closer to the date. Check our benefit page for all the rewards of membership with us at the National Association of Memoir Writers.