I’m very excited today–my friend Sue Silverman’s book Fearless Confessions just won Honorable Mention in the ForeWord Review’s Book-of-the-Year Award in the category of Writing. I’m celebrating with her as I think today of the challenges and joys of writing memoir. For me, her book speaks of some of the most important issues that arise when writing memoir. She teaches the reader how to dive into the dark caves of our lives and come up with nuggets of our secret stories. I know this journey well, through my own memoir Don’t Call Me Mother and through my own teaching.
Memoir writing is a journey that invites exploration into the inner as well as the outer life of a person, and demands that we reveal ourselves deeply, that we confess on the page our secrets, and open our hearts to the reader. How do we dare do this? What will other people think? I talk about these questions in The Power of Memoir, inviting the memoirist to dive into the family myths, to take risks as they write their first drafts. To uncover their secrets, and chase away the shame.
Last weekend I enjoyed teaching a roomful of people in Grass Valley, CA about memoir writing. At first they were shy, making the usual apologies about their writing, but one by one they opened up like poppies in the fields after morning sun–smiles wreathed their faces as they shared their personal stories.
The stories were invited out of their hiding places because we were gathered with the idea of exploration, not unlike the original 49ers who came out to look for gold. And by gathering together, we were supporting each other in revealing confessions that had never been shared before.
I invite you today to look for the nuggets of truth, honesty, and freedom in your stories today. Write for 10 minutes, capture a moment. And celebrate finding another gem in the necklace of your story line.