Beth Powning has written several memoirs, including Edge Seasons and Shadow Child. I have had the pleasure of working with Beth as an editor on a couple of her books, as well as in judging a memoir contest. She has twice been the guest author for my University of Toronto online course, Memories into Story. Here she shares her top tips for memoir writers:
1. The memoir is more than historical. Memory is a vehicle to explore a question you need to find, and then discover the answer to that question. The search must be as fascinating to you as it is to the reader. Write not to record but to DISCOVER.
2. Believe in the value of what you have to say. Everyone has a different journey. Everyone’s journey is important.
3. Trust your instincts.
4. Start anywhere. Memory is not chronological.
5. Pay attention to your dreams.
6. Write in a diary or journal. Go back and read your journals. Don’t transcribe them, but digest them. Use them to glean the small physical details you may have forgotten.
7. Tell the truth. FIND the truth. It is elusive.
8. Travel blind. Never know where you’re going. Never plan. Don’t take a road map!
On the Web:
Copyright 2008 Beth Powning, for Allyson Latta.