When I was growing up, my family was working class. But my mother, whose parents had been owners of small businesses, had ambitions for us. My parents, both African Americans from the South, had talked about the past, but my father had always been reserved about his. His parents had died within … [Read more...] about Family Secret Uncovered: A Revelation in (Property) Deeds
I’ve taught dozens of life story writing and family history writing courses and workshops, and in every one, someone has announced that in doing the research, even superficial research, into their background, they’ve stumbled on at least one family secret. Can you guess the most frequently … [Read more...] about Discovering Secrets When You Write Family History
In my last post, 5 Emotional Challenges of Writing About Your Life or Family I discussed a few emotions—none of them good—that writing about our lives or our families can generate in us. Here are some other obstacles we life and family writers face. You Think Your Writing is Boring We’re … [Read more...] about More Challenges to Writing About Your Life or Your Family
When we write about our lives or our families, our challenges aren’t just literary. Emotions play a significant part in our efforts and they can actually undermine our creative process or shut it down altogether. Emotions that can affect life and family writers: Fear—of getting the facts wrong … [Read more...] about 5 Emotional Challenges to Writing About Your Life or Your Family
If you are writing about your life or your family, whom do you envision as your audience? Are you writing for family and friends or for a larger audience? Are they old, young, or in between? Men or women? Working or retired? Like to travel? Enjoy romance novels? Prefer mysteries? Addicted to reading … [Read more...] about Who Do You Write Life or Family Stories For?
If you write about yourself or your family, what is your mission? What inspires and propels you? Do you feel strongly about what you want to say? Do you want others to understand your experiences or your family’s? My mission is to coax out the (accidentally or deliberately) concealed parts of my … [Read more...] about What is Your Life or Family Writing Mission?
Dani Shapiro has written a number of novels and memoirs; perhaps the best known of the latter is Devotion. A few months ago I found her newest, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage. It's a quiet book, which isn't to say that it's boring or tedious. In fact, its contents consist of small vignettes … [Read more...] about Try Small Vignettes in Writing Your Memoir
Writer Barbara Boudreau has written a good deal about her life and her family over the years. She's successfully used the tools of creative writing to bring her stories to life—and add humor to them. When I learned she would be researching her Lithuanian roots, I was captivated. When I was in … [Read more...] about Combining Family History and Travelogue
I've been asked a number of times to share information about my favorite memoirs and why I cherish them. One post is too short to cover them all, so today I'll just tell you about one: Three Dog Life. This is a big favorite of mine. It was written by Abigail Thomas, whose work I admire a … [Read more...] about An Approach That Could Work for Your Memoir