A Good Home, Words, Writers, Writing

“Just Write,” she said

A women’s group once asked me to read excerpts from my personal stories. They asked why and how I wrote them. And they asked for advice about writing their own memoirs.

Paraphrased below, is what I said.

~~

Write.

Write about memorable experiences, even the tiny ones.

Write about yourself;  things you did or saw happen; the people you met. Write about what they said, and how that affected you; what you learned from them.

But above all, just get into the habit of jotting things down. In a journal, a notebook. On your cell phone. Pieces of paper. The phone bill.

Write. Jot it down.

A word you love. A quote from someone else. The way the light shone through your window and lit up the polished wood floors. The way that made you feel.

Blog Photo - Salle a manger

~~

Over time, you may have enough material for one story, or dozens. You don’t try to get them published. Too personal, you think. And – – what if no-one even likes them?

Then, by a twist of fate, you have an accident and find yourself unable to move from your bed on many days.  When you talk, you stutter. And when you walk, you may even fall.

You will not be able to write a story for years.

But you will have those old stories to remind you of the kinds of people you met, experiences you had, insights you learned – in short, the life you lived.  You may discover that you’d been blessed with a very good life. And that you had been given a wonderful gift in the form of those stories.

Then, along comes a  prestigious magazine that wants to publish your stories, and a publisher who wants to launch your first book. Turns out that in those dozens of stories, written over 25 years, you had, unknowingly, recorded the elements of your memoir.

agoodhome_cynthiareyes

Then thousands of people read your book, A Good Home, and take comfort — even joy — from it.

And that, taken singly or together, is both a surprise and a huge serving of grace.

Just write.

Top photo by J. Van Burek.

A Good Home, Authors, Diane Taylor, Memoir-Writing, New Books

The Gift of Memoir

Author and editor Diane Taylor has published a new book called The Gift of Memoir.

I highly recommend it.

Diane is part of my blog community: you’ve likely seen her replies to my posts. When she asked me to read her manuscript, I said “Yes”, and dug in.

Yippee! I can tell you without reservation that this is a strong book. It’s full of useful and inspiring tips that benefit not only writers of memoirs, but any author.

Edited and published by BPS Books, this is a great read.

Blog Photo - Gift of memoir front cover

Here’s what’s been said about A Gift of Memoir so far:

“Every writer can benefit from reading Diane Taylor’s wonderfully clear, down-to-earth, practical, and inspiring book. But for the memoirist, in particular, Taylor’s expertise is invaluable.” –PHILIP MARCHAND, National Post books columnist and author of Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America

The Gift of Memoir will lift you from desire, doubt, and inclination to exploration, discovery, and triumph. A bountiful gift for the hearts and minds of aspiring memoirists.” –DAVID H. HUGHES, author and ghostwriter of thirteen books.

Among the topics addressed:

  • Telling the truth when you aren’t sure
  • Journaling as a kind of personal writing workshop
  • Four strategies to retrieve memories
  • How to use anecdotes and establish themes
  • How to write through the five senses
  • How to choose a form that fits your writing
  • The revision process

Diane Taylor lives in Northumberland County, east of Toronto. She has had a varied life, working as a lab technician, seamstress and book seller.  Some years ago, she and her partner built a large sailboat and “sailed south”.

Blog Photo - Diane Taylor1

That’s when she started writing.

“Life on the ocean and in the islands was so fresh and immediate,” she says,  “I felt an urgent need to record it so as to not forget it, to re-experience it in words, and to communicate it to others in various sailing magazines. A book resulted: The Perfect Galley Book.”

Other books followed.  Diane has also taught memoir-writing and is an avid member of the Spirit of the Hills writers’ group. (In fact, the book explains why writers should join such groups.)

You’ll find my own recommendation for The Gift of Memoir on the book’s back cover.

This is a fine book, a great read and a worthwhile toolkit for authors.

Congrats, Diane.

*This book is sold on Amazon, Chapters Indigo and other online bookstores. Links are contained in the text of this post.