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. Happy reading, Michele www.michelegierck.com.au
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?
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)
There's nothing like pottering in the garden, losing yourself in spring blooms, to get creative ideas. The garden is my writer's retreat. I'm most appreciative of this space as I edge closer to finishing the writing of my next book. Image and writing © Michele Gierck
Creative Writing: How to Start -- How to Take that First Step So you want to write your story. Wondering where to begin? Here’s three questions to get you going. Take time to consider them. 1) 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've learnt something significant – what would those six things be? 2) Why do you now feel the urge to write? Is it because you promised yourself you would before you turned 30,50,60 or 75? Is it because 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 eyes? Or perhaps just to let your creative self flourish, and see what emerges? 3) Who would you like the audience for your writing to be? Are you writing it for anyone in particular? Or just for yourself? Would you like it published? Once you’ve answered the questions, write down the six things you want to write about. And then write about them! It's okay if you only write a paragraph on each. Or you could write pages and pages. Then, once you've got that writing done, take a good look at it. Then put it down, leave it for a bit. And look again. What are the threads that are common to each of the six pieces? What might hold them together? What would you like to replace or add? This might give you an idea of what you really want to write. And at least it's given you a starting point. The rest of your writing could easily develop from this. Rather than pressuring yourself to write a book, you might consider writing an overview piece that links the pieces you’ve written. Or perhaps you'd prefer to write on one of the pieces that just seems to grab you. You never quite know what’s going to happen once you start on your own personal writing adventure… So, be brave, be creative, and allow the story to emerge. Go for it! Michele ps. for all those who say they can't write, then speak it, record it, and get hold of some apps or technology that types it up for you! (See, there's no excuse not to write.) pps. You won't believe how good for your health writing can be! * Text and Image copyright Michele Gierck Michele Gierck is author of 700 Days in El Salvador, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, and co-author of Peter Kennedy: the man who threatened Rome. Michele's website: www.michelegierck.com.au Michele is a member of The Australian Society of Authors.
Writing your own story can be like scaling a mountain. It takes a lot of effort. Lots and lots. Along the way there will be times when you chug along; times when you sweat it out; and moments when the peak seems so far off in the distance that giving up seems more than reasonable. (My attempt scaling Mount Aspiring in NZ springs to mind.) Here's some ideas to get you going -- writing not mountaineering. Thinking about the following questions before you depart, might be one way to ensure you make it to the mountain top. (Or help you figure out, before expending loads of energy, that it's not for you.) If you're thinking of embarking on that journey -- of autobiography, biography or memoir -- here's some questions that might help. 1) Do you really want to do this? 2) Why do you really want to do this? 3) Who is your audience; who are you writing for? 4) Which voice do you want this written in? 5) Am I happy to do this even if it's not a best seller? Or published by a major publishing house? Or I have to self-publish? 6) If I could only tell six stories/scenarios/scenes or reflectionss, which ones would they be? 7) Why do those six stories/scenarios/scenes or reflections stand out? Are they linked? ps It's quite normal to change your answers as you venture along the writing track. I hope this helps. Remember, nearly every book, whether for the family or the wider world, starts as an idea and a blank page!