I am happy to introduce you all to Shabnam Curtis, newly published author of My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian Girl. I have watched Shabnam work on her story, gathering the threads, coping with truths that were hard to put into words, and now it’s such a pleasure to welcome her to present her book. It’s a story of survival, grit, and transformation. I hope you join us for this special presentation by Shabnam!
Three years ago, when I began writing my memoir, all I recognized in me was an urge to share my story. When I started, I was not happy about my past and its melancholy impact on my current life, but I was curious to see where the journey would take me. My stomach churned as I wrote the first draft about being a victim of living under the dictatorship limitations, war, cultural clichés, divorce, and more limitations.
But through creating each new version I put each memory in perspective, able to see the dynamic unfolding of the events. I began to see myself as a survivor. I began to hate that Shabnam who made so many mistakes less, and I got to the point of recognizing her accomplishments. That also helped me to see others with more compassion and less judgment.
I learned I needed to heal, but more importantly I needed to share my story with others to contribute my share and to enrich the diversity of voices from close-up, first-hand experience. The more we understand each other, the more empathy we create.
What you will learn:
- To learn to write a memoir, we need to read other memoirs.
- Diving into others’ memories deepen our understanding of diversity, of people’s differences and similarities.
- We develop more critical thinking skills by writing a memoir.
- A useful tool to kick-start the project is creating a list of milestones in your life, including accomplishments and losses. Next, choose the ones that covered the time-frame of the memoir.
- Then, list the decisions that led to each milestone and think how the current family, cultural, and economic circumstances at that time impacted our decisions.
- Memoir is not a tool for revenge. It is to adjust our perception of life towards wholeness (not necessarily forgiveness).
- Accepting each character in your memoir (including the protagonist) as a whole human being with all different personas we constantly carry with ourselves. Being human is complicated. We are all complicated.
Shabnam Curtis, the author of My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian Girl, was born and raised in Tehran and experienced the Iranian Revolution of 1979 firsthand. In 2004, she emigrated to the United States, where she now works as a project performance analyst and in her free time reads works by such authors as James Baldwin, Azar Nafisi, and Isabel Allende. Shabnam teaches memoir writing workshops as a volunteer at public libraries and is working on her second memoir. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two dogs.
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