Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing Our Autobiography or Memoir (Part 1 of 5)

Unless you're famous or your story has been published, your memory will remain your primary source of information. As you search your memories, even if you're positive of the facts, refer to documents such as employment records, diaries, journals, or police reports. You might check newspapers about what was going on during that period. For example, Dayinhistory.com is a quick way to check events, which may help you recall or add to the richness of your account.

Try to get the facts, but don't forget that the emotional reactions are equally important. At times, the words spoken aren't nearly as important as the tone of voice or the gesture. If your neighbor asks, "How can I help?" but has his hands on his hips or his jaw is clinched, that gives his words a different texture.

If there are people alive who were part of your story, ask them. My oldest sister wanted to read my book When a Man You Love Was Abused. As she said, "I have my memories and you have yours." She read it and I expected some strong differences. She did something better: My sister told me about an incident that I had forgotten and that enriched my understanding of my painful childhood. I wish now that I had shown her the manuscript before I sent it to the publisher.

I promise myself to write about my life 
as accurately as possible.

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Writer to Writer: Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing, Cec's new book for writers, is now available. 

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