May Member Teleseminar
11 am PDT 12 pm MDT 1 pm CDT 2 PM EDT
Denis Ledoux is going to join us for our May 13 Member Teleseminar to talk about the idea of co-authoring his memoir A Sugary Frosting, —which is composed both of stories from his late wife Martha and of stories he ghostwrote. In order to preserve her legacy, he “wrote” the book based on her own stories which were mostly beginnings and fragments of stories she had begun. When I asked Denis to join us to talk about the idea of authoring someone else’s voice, I did so because so many people now are wanting to present the stories of their loved ones. They’re not so much writing their own memoir, but capturing the voice and stories from the point of view of someone else, usually a close family member. Is this still a memoir? What are the rules? The world of memoir is shifting and evolving, and we’ll explore that during this discussion.
Here is what Denis has to say about this presentation.
When you are both a story teller and a story keeper, in thirty-one years of being in relationship with someone who is verbal—very verbal, you get to know many of her stories. A number of them you have heard not only because they are told directly to you as you went about your day—perhaps driving together into town or as you sat in the morning facing the woodstove sipping your coffee—but also because she told them to others in your presence. Often, details are added in this retelling or an emphasis changed for the benefit of the new auditor—and, unexpectedly, you understand an angle to the story that had eluded you earlier.
Martha wrote a number of her stories—always in segments. She intended to write a memoir, but her life was cut short by breast cancer before she could realize this goal.
Wanting to compile her memoir, A Sugary Frosting, I collected her compositions into a manuscript and soon realized there were details missing—details that I knew were necessary to create meaning in her story. I found myself adding her words that lived within me and my memory into the narrative. Eventually, more of the stories originated in my recall than from her original composition.
What to do with this? I wondered if it was all right for me to write so extensively in the first person.
Because I have been a ghostwriter for many years, entering into someone’s sensibility is a facility that I’ve long practiced. A good ghostwriter is always writing in the subject’s voice. He uses the vocabulary of the subject and he enters into the sensibility of the person whose story is being preserved.
This writing as if one were part of the sensibility of the subject has always been an energizing challenge of ghostwriting. When I found myself writing something that fit the drama of Martha’s story as I saw it but about which I was not certain, I would feel a tug toward what felt like The Story, toward something that demanded to be told.
I’m comfortable with calling A Sugary Frosting a fictionalized memoir but to me it’s a co-authored memoir.
In this teleconference I’ll share the process of writing A Sugary Frosting.
You will learn about:
- How to compile and gather the legacy stories
- Seeing through the eyes of someone else as you write
- Preserving the voice of the original author
- Finding the arc of your story
Denis Ledoux is the founder, director, and editor-in-chief of The Memoir Network, and its predecessor, The Soleil Lifestory Network, and the author of the classic Turning Memories Into Memoirs, A Handbook for Writing Lifestories, and originator of the Turning Memories® Workshops.
He has worked with thousands of first-time and experienced writers through his workshops, as a writing editor, coach, and ghostwriter.
Denis holds a master’s degree in education and, in another life, taught English, creative writing, French, and Latin at both the high school and university levels. He especially enjoys the challenges of working with writers of all levels of accomplishment to craft insightful and well-written memoir out of personal and family histories.
He was twice chosen for a Maine Individual Writing Fellowship and his collection of short stories, Mountain Dance, was selected for a Maine Fiction Award.
Denis Ledoux lives and works in his native Maine.