Ready to Write Your Memoir?

Resistance is Infallible

Rule of thumb: The more  call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

–Steven Pressfield

The War of Art

Some of my neighbors, a covey of California Quail.

This morning I tossed out the last cup of birdseed from a 45-pound bag I  purchased back in November. Quail are timid creatures and can run or fly only short distances, but they are very fast, so it has been difficult getting a decent photo of them. My modest digital camera does not do stop-action.  I was desperate. I wasn’t going through all that birdseed and not capture something useable.

The question is, why did it take getting to the point of desperation?
This is a segue into why have I only written five pages of a memoir so far this new year.
I paid good money to have my “novel” professionally edited only to be told that as a novel the work was sorely lacking plot and tension. “However,” she said, “as a memoir it needs very few changes.” Not what I wanted to hear.  That was December 30, 2010. So I have put it in the drawer and am now going to write the memoir I have been avoiding for thirty-odd years. Actually I have written it twice in the intervening years, but never as a memoir.
Memoir writers have always been my favorite authors. It takes incredible courage to “tell all.” Anne Lamott and Steven King casually included substance abuse in their hugely popular books on writing. Lamott’s Bird by Bird is a classic. It’s difficult to imagine such a successful and happily married author as Steven King, swilling back mouthwash for the alcohol content, as he admits to in Steven King on Writing. Literary agent Betsy Lerner told her story head-on in Food and Loathing. Most recently I read The Truth Book by Joy Castro which is subtitled Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah’s Witnesses. I followed this with Just Kids by Patti Smith, a remarkably even-keeled and beautifully written memoir about her friendship with controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe. That Smith was also raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, which she never mentions in the memoir, I believe, explains a great deal about how she experienced her world.  
For the lesser known, there is a discussion thread on Amazon titled, “Have You Written a Memoir?” which has 2,361 responses at this point in time. Fascinating stuff.
Are you resisting writing your story, your memoir; or resisting getting it published?


Filed under Memoir musings

7 responses to “Ready to Write Your Memoir?

  1. How did you guess my little dirty secret? I started writing memoir essays three years ago, created a blog about memoir so I could teach myself the nuances of the genre, then lost a bit of my passion along the way. I’m now trying to figure out if I am supposed to be a writer or focus on starting a new business. I’ll be blogging about the struggle of discernment also. Thanks to Daisy Hickman, I found you here. Would love to have you check in at also.

  2. Good luck to you as you embark on your memoir! Possible points of interest … I was recently a guest blogger on author (memoir) Mary Tabor’s blog @ — she published a brave memoir last year and was a guest in SunnyRoomStudio @

    I’ll be following your blog to see how it goes! Glad to connect with you on facebook. If you have time to explore SunnyRoomStudio, I have an artist as my guest this week, post called: First Light 🙂 By the way, I liked the quail photo! I’m in eastern Dakota and this is pheasant country … don’t know how they survive our winters.

    My best, Daisy Hickman @

  3. Liz M Forbes

    Resisting and writing and resisting, an endless dance. I too have written my story in various forms and now this winter have started over and like the way it is going much better. I am now writing it for me and through the process have learned much about myself and understand my family. I admire and laugh at the girl me and hold her too when she is sad. Very therepeutic. I get blocked when I think what to do with it when finished. Do i include the incest? A big part of my story but I don’t want to share that with everyone and I don’t want to sound sensationalist. I realize my reluctance has to do with protecting my son’s and partner’s feelings about their idealized mother, wife, although that is their problem and not one I can cope with at this time. So writing it for me works for now and then I can chose. I would love to publish it of course and have it for my children and grandchildren but for now it is for me. My writers group gives me amazing support and we are not a memoir group. Who would think writing memoir would pose so many problems? Wow, thanks, I hadn’t fully undersood all that until I felt compelled to reply to your blog.

  4. hi– i’ve posted quite a bit of first person vignette at Loquaciously Yours where you found me, and just sent a memoir of a trip I took to Italy years ago off to an agent. I don’t know if she’ll take it on, but it was exciting to have her ask. I just read some great advice on she writes on the five questions group from a writer about to have a memoir hit the shops. xxxJenne’

  5. I’ve always leaned towards fiction. Recently I (and others) agreed to act as a guinea pig for a writer/teacher who was developing a memoir course. We got to do the course for free, she got to try out her exercises. I could not believe the stuff that came out when I sat down to write. I’ve filed it away – for now . . .

  6. So happy to have stumbled upon your blog. My completed – as yet, unpublished memoir was a completed novel until a trusted reader suggested it would be stronger in my voice. And it is. But even more importantly, the process was remarkably cathartic. It felt braver to seize the voice and since the thrust of the story is breaking beyond the shadows of suicide – also, crucial.

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