Your Memoir, Your Life
The creation of your memoir is a labor of love. It arises out of a close collaboration between you and your ghostwriter, based on many conversations—chats during which you and your ghostwriter dig deeply, push beyond the obvious to discover the deeper meaning and larger lessons or insights you have to share with your readers.
This requires time and effort, but it’s the only way to uncover those gems locked in your memory, some of which you may not even realize are there.
Your story is unique: the roads you’ve taken; your triumphs and defeats; the lessons you’ve learned and those still to be mastered—these are yours, and yours alone. As a master storyteller, I can weave them into a fascinating memoir that engrosses, informs and moves your readers.
I’ve had the pleasure of working on numerous memoirs, including the story of Princess Diana’s final days on earth, the “dream come true” life story of an airline pilot, and the rags to riches story of a Jewish boy fleeing from the Nazis who made it big in America.
I’ve had the joy of seeing my work featured in major newspapers and on television shows in multiple countries. But for me the real thrill still lies in pulling together a person’s memories and creating a captivating memoir that keeps readers riveted to the page.
My works include:
Let me help you turn your memories into a compelling memoir. I’m ready to have the first of many wonderful conversations with you; just call 818-917-5362.
And, if you like, you can keep reading to review some common memoir questions
In days past, only movie stars, athletes, politicians or well-known pundits would even think of writing a memoir. But today, anybody with an interesting life, a great passion, or a body of knowledge can pass on his or her legacy to family, friends and the world at large.
A memoir is an interpretation
What is a memoir? It is a piece of “remembered history” that presents a “slice” of your life, showing how a situation, time, place or person changed you, for better or for worse.
A memoir is not just a recitation of your amusing or dramatic stories. Neither is it a complete record of your life.
Instead, a memoir tells a story from your life in such a way that it invites the readers into your mind. It allows them to see and experience a part of your life as you saw and experienced it, and to understand why this particular slice of life had such an impact on you.
A memoir is called “remembered history” because it is understood that you are interpreting things as you saw and understood them, rather than attempting to write a complete, factual, and impartial historical account.
Are you writing a memoir or something else?
In other words, is it memoir or autobiography? The two are similar but they aren’t the same thing.
An autobiography covers your entire life, from birth to the present day. It is designed to capture all of the important people, facts, events and dates, making it a complete record of your life.
A memoir, on the other hand, shines a light on your reactions to a certain portion of your life, highlighting the emotions that arose and the changes that resulted.
So are you writing an autobiography or memoir? There is a fair amount of overlap between the two, but they are distinctly different.
How do you write a memoir?
The “how to write a memoir” question vexes many people, for there is no single approach; no preferred structure, tone or predetermined starting place for your story.
However, every memoirist should begin by developing a strong theme. The theme is the common thread running through your book, the central idea that holds everything together, driving your story forward and allowing your readers access to your mind.
Once you’ve identified your theme, you can then select your “slice,” the portion of your life story that best illustrates the theme.
A strong theme plus a carefully selected “slice” can turn a grab bag of stories into a compelling memoir. For more on theme and “slice,” see “Writing Your Memoir: First Steps.”
Where do you get ideas for memoirs?
Potential memoir ideas are tucked into every nook and cranny of your life. But don’t just think about the funny, dramatic or exotic things that have happened to you; think in terms of theme. Zero in on an idea, question, situation or challenge that can serve as the through-line for your story.
Some common memoir themes are:
- Accepting change – We’re all faced with change as we go through life. Sometimes change makes us stronger, sometimes weaker. If you’ve lost a loved one, for example, you’ve had to accept the changes created by the void. Show your readers how these changes affected and altered you, for better or for worse. Then take your readers with you on your journey to acceptance.
- Belonging – Many people have struggled to find a place in society, in their families, at work or school, and in other important areas of life. If you have immigrated to another country, been bullied at school, or otherwise felt like an outsider looking in, you might choose the importance of belonging as your theme.
- Overcoming adversity – This country was built on the idea that it is possible for anyone to succeed, a concept that remains popular today. If you have worked your way up from poverty, survived abuse, lived with a terrible illness, built a company from the ground up in spite of naysayers, or otherwise overcome adversity, tell your story in such a way that readers can understand the mindset that propelled you to success.
There are many more memoir themes, including coming of age, rags to riches, it’s a wonderful life, courage and honor, family struggle, good versus evil, embracing or rejecting your cultural heritage, romance, becoming a parent, going broke, sports, war, and a profound religious or spiritual experience. For more, see “Memoir Ideas Are Everywhere!”
What’s the best way to get started?
How to start a memoir is a problem that bedevils many first-timers – and many experienced memoirists, as well. The process begins with developing your theme and selecting the “slice of life” you want to examine. But then what?
Then it’s time for your stories. Review them all, whether in your head or on paper, and select the ones that fit best with your theme and “slice.” Not necessarily the funniest or most dramatic stories, but those that flow naturally and smoothly from your theme, and are part of the “slice of life” you are presenting. Even though your friends may really enjoy one of your stories, it doesn’t belong in your memoir unless it contributes to the theme and helps your readers experience your emotions during that “slice” of your life.
Yes, it can be painful to set aside a favorite story or two, but remember: a great memoir is a journey through the author’s mind, a journey driven by theme and “slice.” Anything else just gets in the way.
Let the journey begin!
Writing a memoir is more than just arranging your stories in a pleasing manner. Remember, a memoir invites readers into the author’s mind. Unfortunately, our minds are often cluttered and confused, stuffed full of dusty stacks of old recollections, odd facts, memories we dare not address, detours, brick walls, potholes and black holes – plus a small number of treasured memories that gleam in the brilliant light of mental spotlights.
Which, among all of these, will contribute to your theme while revealing both the person that you were, and the one you have come to be? This is a key question you must address before putting a single word on paper.
The process of writing a memoir should be a journey through your own mind. Ideally, it is a journey full of surprises, unexpected discoveries, and new insights, culminating in a new realization about yourself and a particular time in your life. It’s the journey and the realizations that an excellent memoirist shares with the reader.
If you need bit of help…
Getting bogged down and feeling overwhelmed is part of being a memoirist. When you get stuck, read “Writing a Memoir: 7 Tips.”