El Salvador might be a long way from Ukraine, but the tenacity of the people and their determination in a conflict zone certainly has its similarities.
As a writer and storyteller, I thought this might be the best way I could make a small contribution. Please note that it's only set up for people in Australia. In other countries I'm sure there are local Red Cross or Red Crescent initiatives, or other NGOs that you can support for Ukraine.
A big shout out to Red Cross and Red Crescent for the great work they do in conflict zones, and with displaced/refugee people.
I hear it often. Wanting to write your own memoir, or life story, but not sure where to start. Here's a tip. Instead of staring at the blank page, wondering where to start, and feeling overwhelmed, why not start writing a personal profile -- an overview of your story in 1000 to 3000 words. And if you can't write it yourself, get someone to write it, or help you write the piece. It's amazing what emerges -- a spark, ideas, a theme, a voice, structure, or even style or tone.
I've been collaborating with a couple of business women lately, and it's worked for both of them, even though the story each of them wants to tell is about much more than their respective businesses.
Text and image copyright Michele Gierck
If you enjoy reading memoirs, or if you are learning all you can about them, (perhaps even threatening to write one), this is a book you'll want to make sure you get your hands on. I've just finished it for the first time. Feel like I need to read it again, because I was so delighted with the story and the way it was written, the way words and images melded into amazing descriptions, that I charged through it.
One of Mary's lines at the end of the book says a lot about the effect this first memoir of hers has had on readers. 'Reading Liars' Club seemed to crowbar open something in people.' I can totally understand why.
I happened to discover this wonderful book, published in 2015, in the it's-yours-for-free box at the local library. Just proves that one library's trash is another person's treasure.
Here's one of my favourite quotes. 'In fact, every memoirist I know seems doomed to explore the past in an often-agonized death march down the page.'
Hope you get a chance to at least read the Preface. It's a classic.
Once in a while, if you are really lucky, you come across a picture book that is so beautifully researched and written that your heart begins to sing as you read. I was totally drawn into LOOK UP WITH ME Neil deGrasse Tysone: A Life Among the Stars (words by Jennifer Berne), that I feel compelled to let the world know about it. (The illustrations are by Lorraine Nam.)
If you are grown-up, or yet to grow up, and have ever looked up at the stars, or would love to, see if you can get your hands on a copy of this book.
The Introduction by Neil, and the Author's Note by Jennifer are fabulous bookends to the story.
Personal writing is rarely just about the end product. It's a process. And that process can be a real gift, requiring deep thought and reflection. Yes, it often comes with challenges and surprises, but it's a bit like going fishing. You never know what you're going to find. (Or what finds you!) Even the difficult parts of life, when written about, take on different hues, and allow you to look from a different perspective.
My two memoirs have been about powerful personal experiences: one in a war zone, the other accompanying my mother with dementia. I might have thought I was writing about human rights, or breaking down barriers about dementia. But looking back, I realise I was just trying to make sense of it all -- of the madness of life.
That's why I encourage people who are thinking about writing -- perhaps daring themselves to give it a go -- to dive in. It's not so much the end product as the process of writing that's the real gift.
Over the years I've been contacted by quite a few people wanting to write part of their own story, but wondering where to start. Here's my suggested strategy -- three questions to ask yourself.
If you were to choose six parts of your life to write about (they could be events, experiences, life stages, transitions, or times when you learnt something significant) what would they be?
Why do you now feel the urge to write? Is it because you promised yourself you would before your turned, 30, 50 or 75? Perhaps you want to hand stories down to family members. Or to reflect on your journey so far? Is it to tell the story of others through your own eyes? Or to let your creative self flourish and see what emerges?
Who would you like the audience for your writing to be? Are you writing for anyone in particular? Or just for yourself? Would you like your prose or poetry to be published?
Dear Friends, Readers, Community,
Here's a quote for the day that someone I've never met was kind enough to send me.
Necessity is the mother of invention. In these challenging times get creative!Creativity and curiosity are great gifts to have, especially now. They help us stay upbeat.
Friends have been sending me links to useful online sites. No point keeping them to myself, so here they are.
For some relaxing yoga -- as good for the mind as the body -- check out this online session.
If you're up for a free short course, you might like to have a look at the broad selection on offer at Future Learn, from screen writing to health and history.
Feel free to contact me via the contact page on my website if you have ideas or comments.
Photo and text copyright Michele Gierck
Hunkering down at home due to COVID-19 (coronavirus)? Now might be the perfect time to start that story you've always wanted to tell. Michele Gierck, a specialist memoir writer and professional biographer can work with you, via Skype or phone, to write, or help you write, your story. For those of you who are not sure where to begin, YOU MIGHT ONLY NEED A COUPLE OF SESSIONS WITH MICHELE TO KICK-START YOUR CREATIVITY.
If you'd like to discuss your writing project with Michele, please get in touch with her via the contact page on her website.
Although based in Australia, Michele has been working with people in the USA and Europe for a number of years.
You can check out her author profile at, Amazon or on her website.
Recent praise for Michele's writing, or help writing, memoirs: 'Michele genuinely loves what she does. This is evident not only by the finished product but the way she goes above and beyond throughout the process of writing a book. I highly recommend Michele.' (Tracey Hughes - Biography/Family History)
"I decided to put pen to paper and write my migrant journey. I am indebted to Michele Gierck for her guidance, incredible insight and structural ability so that my story flowed, resulting in the completion of a magnificent outcome, both as a literary achievement and quality of finished book. I can confidently recommend Michele as a true professional.' Sam Tarascio, Founder and Executive Chairman of Salta Properties, one of Australia's Top 50 privately-owned companies.
Image copyright Michele Gierck (Michele speaking at a literary event)
I'm just about to send the first few chapters of my latest non-fiction book to my agent who loved the earlier draft. All I need is a title. If you can think of one, I'd sure appreciate hearing from you.
Just drop a line via the contact page of my website: www.michelegierck.com.au
About the manuscript
It's a post-injury come-back tale in which the bush, the ocean, a bloke (a fellow) and travel all play their part.
Here's the pitch.
When Michele, a broken down sojourner, meets Mac, a dedicated river scientist, she is drawn into his orbit, the gravity of which propels her onto an uncharted trajectory. And yes folks, it's a true story!
If you'd like to know more about this book, including the title that we choose or publication date, just sign up to the newsletter on my website.
Image and text copyright Michele Gierck