Public Memoir Roundtables

July Roundtable Discussion – FREE to All

Sharon and CarolThe Rewards of Private Publication

Sharon Lippincott and Carol Broz

Thursday July 7

4 PM PDT   5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT

What do you do when your story seems too personal or controversial to share with the world at large, but you want your family to have the option of ordering copies any time? Do you wonder if it’s worth the effort and whatever expense to publishing a finished volume that you will never promote and few will read? Join us as Sharon Lippincott and Carol Broz talk about how Carol solved puzzles like these before publishing a family history memoir.

Four generations of Carol’s family had lived in the same small community in western Pennsylvania, often at the mercy of progress. Carol heard these stories as she grew up, and noticed quirks of various family members as well as stories of tragedies and triumphs. As she grew older, she became burningly curious to know more facts about historical events and to gain more insight into complex personalities and relationships within the family.

Finally, after holding onto information unearthed by her parents, adding to their research, using compiled notes, and mining memories of family members, a coherent image gradually emerged. She spent years writing stories about family members, obtaining feedback from writing groups along the way. Eventually she compiled a volume of family stories, using accounts of personal experiences to tie them together. She explains:

As I wrote, I determined to tell the family’s story with truth and honesty to the best of my ability. I was determined to help family members understand the forces that helped shape us all into the people we are today, and to do it with love and compassion. My intent was to inform, to make future generations aware that they are descended from tough, strong stock, able to survive hardships and obstacles.

Carol did battle with her inner critic all along, and when a valued family member expressed objections that critic went on steroids. Ultimately that critic was tamed and she distributed finished copies to dozens of family members. Grateful responses continue to pour in.

Sharon and Carol will talk with me about these points:

  • How to decide between public and private publishing.
  • How to make your book available to family without inviting the world to buy it.
  • Working with your inner critic to make an informed choice.
  • Dancing with the elephant when family members disagree.
  • Value to family members of sharing these stories and rewards of doing so.

 

Short bios:

Carol Broz initially chose to mask her identity and keep her book title private for reasons we’ll talk about in the program. She hopes that sharing the story of her writing process and publishing decision will help others with similar dilemmas discover the benefits of publishing small.

Sharon Lippincott, a member of the NAMW Advisory Board, lives in Austin and teaches lifestory and related creative writing classes. As a friend of Carol Broz, she has followed the progress of this book for years. She prepared the book for publication and helped Carol find a publishing strategy that worked.

 

Listen to the recording below:

June Roundtable Discussion – FREE to All

Inventing the Memoir: Truth Can Be Stronger Than Fiction

Amye ArcherAmye Archer

June 9

4 PM PDT   5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT

When I first started writing my memoir, I was nervous that it wasn’t interesting enough. After all, I was only 33. What life experience could I possibly cobble together to create a memoir? Mine was a story about being unhappily married and divorced and fat, and nothing else really.  There’s no big plot twist, no tragic deaths. So when a publisher showed interest and asked me to change my story to fiction, I didn’t hesitate. I rewrote the book four times as fiction. I killed my best friend, let my ex back into my bed, and essentially undid all of the progress I had made in real life during that year. What I realized was this: people stopped relating to the material as strongly as they did when it was memoir. As memoir, when I would read excerpts, I would have women and men approach me afterwards and tell me that they too have felt the heft of Fat Girl, Skinnyweight on their chest, the worm of self-loathing in their brains. What’s interesting about my memoir, is that it’s true. As memoir, I was embracing the reader. As fiction, I was holding the reader at arms length.

*You are never too young to write a memoir; everyone has a story buried somewhere inside.
*The strength of memoir lies in our ability to tap into the universal truth that connects us.
*Tips for writing that universal truth, finding truth in identity.
*Why memoir is different than fiction.

 

Bio

Amye Archer holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, and currently teaches at The University of Scranton. Amye’s full-length poetry collection, Bangs, was released in 2014. She has also published two chapbooks: A Shotgun Life and No One Ever Looks Up.  Amye’s work has appeared in Nailed Magazine, PMS: Poem Memoir Story, PANK, and various journals. She currently lives in Northeast, PA, with her husband, Tim, and their twin daughters Samantha and Penelope.

Website: www.amyearcher.com

 

Listen to the recording below:

April Roundtable Discussion–Free to All

Jerry Waxlerjerry_9-12-14

My Twelve Year Odyssey to Turn life into Memoir

Thursday April 7, 2016

4 PM PDT   5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT

 

Our guest this month is Jerry Waxler, my colleague and friend since I began the National Association of Memoir Writers. Jerry is also on our advisory board, and we have had many conversations about his memoir journey, mine, and the issues that all memoir writers have to solve as they finish their book and move toward publication.

Jerry has taught several classes here at NAMW, and is a passionate advocate for memoir writers. Now that his book is done—yay—we thought it would benefit memoir writers who struggle with the same challenges as Jerry did to hear about how he managed to confront his memory, moments of shame and embarrassment, the need for privacy, and the long writing and editing process.

Jerry’s odyssey to write his memoir began in 2004, when he decided he would try to make sense of the years between 1965 and 1975. At first, writing the story seemed impossible. He was not a story writer and he could barely remember those times when hippie dreams almost unraveled his sanity. Twelve years later, in 2016, he published, Thinking My Way to the End of the World. In this roundtable we’ll accompany Jerry through his journey, as he proceeded from the initial motivation, to gathering anecdotes, creating scenes, organizing, revising, polishing, self-doubts, and finally publishing the memoir.

You will learn:

  • How to discover and uncover your most important memories
  • How to sort through the many moments of your life to find a structure for your memoir
  • The ways that your writing community can help you find your way
  • How viewing writing your memoir as a journey can give you courage to keep going
  • What you need to know about revision and editing
  • How to easily publish the book YOU want to write

Jerry Waxler, M.S. writes, speaks, and teaches about how to awaken human potential through writing. Jerry’s blog includes four hundred essays that form the basis for his book Memoir Revolution which champions the social trend to turn life into Story. His degree and experience in Counseling Psychology provide the background for his self-help guide, How to Become a Heroic Writer, about overcoming the mental challenges of being a writer. His own coming-of-age memoir Thinking My Way to the End of the World is about his attempt to grow up into adulthood during the 60s. For more information see www.jerrywaxler.com.

Listen to the recording below:

March Roundtable Discussion–Free to All

Writing In the Voice of My Mother

Jo Ivester

Thursday March 3, 2016

4 pm PST   5 pm MST   6 pm CST   7 pm EST

Ivester Facebook PhotoWe are so pleased to welcome Jo Ivester, the author of The Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir of the 1960s Deep South to our Roundtable podcast. Read her summary below about working with her mother to write a story about her mother’s life. Ultimately Jo wrote from the point of view of her mother. We get many questions about this at NAMW, and want to explore the issues that arise.

They include:

Can I write in the POV of someone else and call it a memoir?

What makes the reader engage in a story like that?

Join us for a great discussion about the narrative voice, choices you can make, and how to might write from the point of view of someone else.

 

From Jo:

Outskirts CoverIn 1967, when I was 10 years old, my father joined the War on Poverty. He moved our family from Boston to a small, all-black town in the Mississippi Delta, where he started a clinic, my mother taught at the local high school, and I was the only white student at my junior high. Thirty-five years later, my mother wrote about those days, along with stories from her whole life.

For five years, we worked together to massage her early writings into a cohesive journal, spanning much of the 20th century. After distributing copies of that journal to family and friends, we circulated it to connections in the publishing industry and were told that the story of our time in Mississippi was the only publishable part. My mother, disappointed, gave up, but that was just the start for me. I took the feedback in stride and went on to write “Outskirts,” relying on both my mother’s journal and my own childhood memories.

 

What Members Will Gain:

  • An appreciation of the importance of writing daily, even when there is no book in sight
  • An understanding of how the memoir-writing process can draw family members closer together
  • A recognition of the challenges of writing in someone else’s voice, along with the rewards of doing so
  • Some pointers about re-connecting with people from one’s past
  • The courage to be honest and authentic in writing about one’s experiences
  • How to decide about using another person’s point of view

 

Bio:

Jo Ivester spent two years of her childhood living in a trailer in Mound Bayou, where she was the only white student at her junior high. She finished high school in Florida before attending Reed, MIT, and Stanford in preparation for a career in  transportation and manufacturing. Following the birth of her fourth child, she began teaching, first as a substitute math teacher and then as an adjunct professor at St. Edward’s University. She and her husband teach each January at MIT and travel extensively, splitting their time between Texas and Colorado. For more information, please visit www.joivester.com.

 

Listen to the recording below:

February Roundtable Discussion

Lene Fogelberg

Lene Fogelberg

Writing in Two Languages—Translating Your Story into a Memoir

Lene Fogelberg

Thursday February 4, 2016

4 pm PST   5 pm MST   6 pm CST   7 pm EST

We all struggle with how to get our story told; essentially we translate our experiences into words. Join us as Lene Fogelberg talks about the process of writing her memoir Beautiful Affliction which is now on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.

Lene had a life and death story–as she was living it, she didn’t know the outcome. She was short of breath, but doctors in Sweden pronounced her healthy. Her book is the story of how she found someone to listen to her heart, and her story.

All her life Lene had been a writer, but the real challenge came when Lene decided to write her story—would it be in Swedish, her native tongue, or in English? Lene will discuss her journey with language, culture, and writing.

When we want to write a memoir, all of us struggle for permission, wondering if we can tell a story that others will relate to. Lene took classes and worked on her writing in both languages, , but winning a poetry prize encouraged her to think she might have a voice—and a story—that others would value.

As I wrote the book, I decided to be vulnerable, transparent. and write from my heart. I did not hold back and tried not to concern myself with how I would be perceived. I thought of the reader and what I wanted to tell her (my younger self…).

Lene and I will talk about these points:

  • Dare to matter. Recognize the importance of your story and your voice.
  • Recognize the strength that comes with your vulnerability.
  • Find the details that build your story so others can be in your world.
  • The challenge of multi-lingual writing
  • Keep trying to get your book out into the world—how Lene followed various publishing options, and why she chose She Writes Press over a traditional publishing deal.

 

Short bio:

Lene FogelbergLene Fogelberg is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, an award-winning poet and double open-heart surgery survivor. Born in Sweden, she currently lives with her family in Malaysia, where she is working on a novel that takes place in Asia.

http://lenefogelberg.com

http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Affliction-Memoir-Surviving-Disease/dp/1631529854

 

Listen to the recording below:

Testimonials

Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler