"I was ten years old when I began writing for my life. Once I realized the power of words to stop the beatings and the molestation, I never stopped writing, and I never looked back."
That's the opening of my memoir, Writing for My Life. It was the alternative story I gave the TED organizers for my 2009 TED Global talk. Dan Pink, yes, the best-selling author of Drive, and other books, voted for it. But my account of being homeless won the nomination. I'm kind of glad really, because 10 years ago I wasn't ready to go public with how I started writing. I still may not be, but I'll know soon enough. Finishing a memoir does that — heals you I mean. It's why I love memoirs so much. It's why I love ghostwriting or collaborating with others who are writing their own.
What is a memoir? First off, it is NOT an autobiography. Biographies/autobiographies are linear. They're historical accounts of one's life. "First this happened, then this, then this." Or, "I was born and then...." Biographies are my second favorite genre but I'm hopelessly devoted first and foremost to the memoir.
Memoirs are snapshots into the memory, the angst, the recollections, pains, pleasures, and challenges of a person over time. That time can be short (summer vacation, planning a wedding, getting sober, having a child, a divorce, starting a business) or a look back at a lifetime. The focus of a memoir is not the order of things, or how they happened. A memoir is a shifting of memories, insights, pains, coming of age, remembrances of a theme.
Some memoir themes are:
Any major life change, for instance, is fodder for a memoir. The other great thing about memoirs is you can write more than one. But the reason I love the genre most is because people generally write memoirs to heal, or to share a truth that's haunted them, or to confront some demon or abuse, loss, or to share their coming of age stories. Memoirs are real, intimate, and often raw. They're the hardest book to write, but often are the most powerful to tackle. They can leave readers wrung out and emotional, change lives, give insights, and heal others. They're amazing.
If you've never thought about writing your own memoir, start thinking. If you don't know where to start, have never written, and would like to learn more about memoir - there's a September 22-24, 2019 memoir writing conference at The Spruceton Inn, in the Catskills, outside New York. Only ten attendees will be admitted so the conference can remain small, focused, and personal and so everyone gets lots of personal attention. The $550 fee covers your accommodations (your own room and private bath) in a bed & breakfast, tuition for the three days, one-on-one time with host/best-selling author and Hollywood Screenwriter Stephen Foreman, catered lunches, bonfires at night, and a fantastic experience being with other writers. There are four spots left. Join us. For more information: https://www.sprucetoninn.com/workshops-retreats and to contact the Inn, Email email@example.com or call 518-989-6404 to reserve your place. They’ll take a 50% deposit via credit card upon booking. Registration officially closes August 1st, if not sooner once it’s full!
Consistency Matters More Than Talent
You don't have to be talented to succeed. You do need to be consistent.