The Story of Your Life

Posted: May 5, 2012 in For writers
Tags: , , ,

You have stories to tell, stories about those special moments in your life, the times that defined you.  But how do you tell them?  Marion Roach Smith gives you the guidelines you need in “The Memoir Project”.  I’m enjoying this book not only because I love memoirs but because there are great hints for the craft of writing.

I am convinced that everyone has a story inside of them.  A fascinating story.  We are all unique.  We’ve had things that have happened to us that formed us.  “The Memoir Project” interests me not only as a writer, but also as a person who is deeply intrigued with what makes each of us special.  But don’t let me sell you.  Listen to the author and let her entice you.  Listen to an interview with her on NPR’s Talk of the Nation radio show,  watch a video as she talks about her book.

Marion Roach Smith emphasizes that you should write the lessons you’ve learned with each experience you choose to relate.  Let that be the centerpiece of your work, not merely the tale itself. Her advice works for something as simple as a few paragraphs to go in your family scrapbook, for your blog, or for a full sized book.

She’s a wonderful teacher who laughs easily and has great advice.  I hope you enjoy her.


  1. I’d like to read her book. One of the challenges of publishing a memoir, which every writer will face, is that some of the best some is deeply embarrassing to others whom you’re writing about. Then what?

    Also, if you put your own life out for judgment, as I did in my latest book, about having worked in retail for two years, some total strangers will also say shockingly cruel and rude things about your character– not your work. It’s bizarre and inevitable.

  2. Judee says:

    I think everyone has a multitude of stories to tell. Some painful, some empowering, some of learning and some of just enduring. While writing a memoire can be cathartic, I think sometimes certain memories can be too painful to write directly. That is when fiction can come in handy, by letting your character live through something you experienced, and perhaps have that character learn what you did, or react in a way you wish you had done – either way, it still gives the lesson and experiences but perhaps with a little bit of needed distance.

    • I totally agree with you. What I love about writing mysteries is that you can take out your revenge on the people who have caused you pain. Make them the bad guy in a novel. Make them the victim of a murder. It’s great fun and so cathartic.

      I’m still debating whether to write about the Lyme disease journey Cee and I have been on for more than twenty years now. I have an over abundance of stories, but by reading “The Memoir Project” I’m starting to have a better idea of how to approach things.

      • Judee says:

        Yes, I looked through the excerpt of the book and listened to the vid, etc – it does give a better focus of how to begin something like that. Has gotten me thinking too, even though I have no plans for any kind of memoire – it’s still interesting to think of the events of one’s life and consider ways to make them interesting to others. I’m sure you have a ton of tales to tell, and will do them well. Thanks for sharing this info!

  3. This is wonderful information. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I’ve been struggling with my mom’s memoir; this information is a God send. Thank you!

  4. Louise says:

    Great links – thanks Chris. 🙂

  5. bluebee says:

    Thanks for the information, Chris 🙂

  6. Sunshine says:

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  7. judithatwood says:

    I am in the process of my mom’s memoir, on top of what I do in the blog. She has helped already, and I haven’t read her book yet!

  8. Hi, Chris:
    What a joy to find me and my irreverent little book mentioned here. Many thanks. Writers helping writers is what it is all about. Let me know if there is more I can do.
    In the meantime, write on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s