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. Happy writing. Michele Text and image copyright Michele Gierck www.michelegierck.com.au
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
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?
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
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!