Breaking Through—Writing the Forbidden Stories in your Memoir
FREE Memoir Telesummit hosted by Linda Joy Myers, President and Founder of NAMW
May 6, 2016
Memoir writers have a tough mandate: to dig deep and tell their own personal truths, and write a story that will offer a universal message to others. We aren’t supposed to make things up, and we are warned not to air the dirty laundry—who will want to read it anyway—says those critical voices, both the inner voice and real people. We know/fear that family and friends may uninvite us to the holidays once they know that we are writing a memoir. It makes everyone squirm a little, and cast guilty looks about the room. But your stories are your own, and your truth is your truth.
Other than staying silent, which can be a temptation from first draft to final proof, what do we do? How do we find the courage to break through these barriers? One thing I know from talking with memoir writers is that the need to express the truth of their lives is a strong force. Sometimes as I speak with these writers, I hear the tremor in their voice as they worry about what people will think and what kind of comments will be made. It doesn’t work to pretend that we live in a world where other people don’t matter, though I do hear a few who say casually, “The heck with everyone, I’m writing what I want.” The majority of people I speak with say, “I love my family, I don’t want to hurt them, but I have to stick to the truth of my experience and write my story. It makes me not write sometimes.” The first layer of writing a memoir is to move away from your fears and get all your stories out and onto the page. No one will know what you have written unless and until you are ready to show them.
We are lucky at this Telesummit to have guest speakers who have “walked the radical edge” as Brooke Warner calls it. They have taken on the task of writing a memoir that challenges the status quo of silence, they struggle with how much to reveal, and how their book would change their lives and the lives of others when it’s published.
Please join us to find out how Kelly Kittel, author of Breathe, and Sara Connell, author of Bringing in Finn have braved the storms of their inner critic—and family and friends—to write their memoirs. Brooke Warner, publisher at She Writes Press, will encourage you on the path of that radical edge as you get ready to publish your book. To address issues like “what about my social media voice? Am I being self-centered to talk about myself and my book?” Sue Canfield will make all that simpler for you to understand so you can share your hard-won knowledge and expertise with others, who like you, need it to move into the world with their story.
When you sign up for the Telesummit, you will receive call-in instructions and reminders the week of the Telesummit. You will call in by phone for any or all the events that day and if you are on the line, you will have a chance to ask the presenters the questions that apply to your work and challenges you have writing your memoir. After the Telesummit is over you will receive an audio of the day. I know from previous presentations on this subject that you will benefit from hearing from others about how to not only start your memoir, but write all the way to the end, and one day, see your book for sale. It’s a great feeling!
10 am PDT 11 am MDT 12 pm CDT 1 pm EDT
I was raised to believe that family is the most important thing. My ancestors sailed on the Mayflower and I spent my childhood tromping around cemeteries behind my mom and my grandmother, Mimi, who raised me according to the decorum of the finishing school she’d attended. Our ancestors were so much a part of our lives I half expected them to show up for Thanksgiving dinner each year. My memoir, Breathe, is therefore not only a story about losing my sons, it’s a story about being forced to redefine family and relinquish members who are hurting you. And then to write about them. In this webinar, we’ll examine why we need to share our stories about family conflict and how truthful we can be.
What you will learn:
- Why it’s important for us to tell our war stories.
- Legal Vetting. Do you have to change names?
- Things to consider about Blurbs, Advanced Copies, and Disclaimers.
- Family Fallout
- Unexpected Delights
Kelly Kittel is a fish biologist turned author who currently lives in Rhode Island with her husband and three of their five living children but her favorite writing space is in their yurts on the coast of Oregon. She has been published in magazines and anthologies and her first book, Breathe, a Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict was published last May. Breathe has earned the following distinctions: IPNE Best Book of the Year and Best Narrative Nonfiction Awards; Honorable Finalist Readers Choice International Book Awards, #1 Amazon Best-Seller!
Truth can be Stranger than Fiction- Finding the Courage and Craft to Write and Publish Memoir
11 am PDT 12 pm MDT 1 pm CDT 2 pm EDT
Every memoirist has to wrestle with issues of truth, how much truth, and that little voice that tells you not to expose the family stories. No matter how many times you reassure your inner critic, it can still stop you from writing your book. And there are other challenges—how to shape the narrative, learning the craft of story writing, and why we do all this anyway!
In this presentation, award winning memoir author Sara Connell will discuss her passion for the craft of memoir and how she solved some of those problems.
- Facing the fear to share intimate, personal details
- Creating a riveting narrative arc (how to make a true story read like page turning fiction)
- The journey (& finding the courage) to publication
- Helping others with the stories we write
Sara Connell is an author, speaker and life coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The View, FOX Chicago, NPR, and Katie Couric. Sara teaches writing online through her company, at Story Studio Chicago and a variety of organizations in Chicago and the US. She has been a featured presenter at the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Literary Festival and received a Judith Dawn Memorial Fund grant for fiction in 2014. She is currently part of Northwestern University’s MFA program. Her writing has appeared in: The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, BabyTalk, Mindful Metropolis, Psychobabble and Evolving Your Spirit. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine 2012 Book of the Year and is in bookstores now.
Walking the Radical Edge toward Publishing Your Truth
12 pm PDT 1 pm MDT 2 pm CDT 3 pm EDT
In order to show up authentically in your writing process, you must write your forbidden stories for yourself, even if you later choose not to include them in your published book. Readers can feel when a memoirist is writing at arm’s-length not fully showing up or being 100 percent present on the page with their authentic truth, the “real” story.
Brooke Warner has shepherded hundreds of memoirists to publication, and knows intimately those breakthrough moments when writers decide to lay bare the whole truth, forging forward to expose themselves completely. This process is called “walking the radical edge” by the poet David Whyte. As you work on your memoir, and it makes its demands on you, you find yourself on the outer edge of exposure. The journey to publication includes pushing yourself within reason, and discovering whether revealing your whole truth turns out to be as big a deal as your inner critic would have you believe. Brooke has coached and published countless memoirists who walk that radical edge, and has found that they were willing to put onto the published page more than they might have imagined possible when they started. To do that, they had to come to terms with the story that wanted to be told, and to trust the process and themselves.
As you shape your stories and write into the unknown, keep these points in mind:
- You are the creator of your book, but the events that happened need someplace to go. Get them on the page for yourself, even if you decide later on you don’t want to publish them.
- Find safe spaces, either with a writing partner or a coach, so you can share your work without fear of the consequences, and to explore how it feels to put your work into the hands of another.
- The very act of writing your story is courageous, so you may need to protect yourself against those who don’t think it is, or who don’t understand your motives.
- There is a difference between writing for yourself and writing for others, and when you’re writing your forbidden stories you need to give yourself time and space to sort through your thoughts. You don’t need to rush your process.
Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Green-light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, How to Sell Your Memoir, and the co-author of Breaking Ground on Your Memoir. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing. She is the former Executive Editor of Seal Press and currently sits on the boards of the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Bay Area Book Festival, and the National Association of Memoir Writers. She blogs actively on Huffington Post Books and SheWrites.com. She lives and works in Berkeley, California. @brooke_warner
Breaking Through to a New Mindset for Social Media
1 pm PDT 2 pm MDT 3 pm CDT 4 pm EDT
During this discussion Sue Canfield will share why a transformation to a new mindset is important to memoir writers using social media. She will explain how to break through the resistance you may feel to using social media. You will learn how social media can be used effectively in just 15 minutes a day. You will also learn specific strategies and processes that are fun and easy to use. If you’ve been holding back from using social media or want to learn how to use it to share your message and not just market your book, you won’t want to miss this discussion.
What You Will Learn:
- Why Social Media Matters for Memoir Writers
- Where to Start in Social Media
- Strategies & Processes to Use Effectively
- How to Manage Your Social Media in 15 minutes a day
Sue Canfield of Chief Virtual Officer has been working with social media since 2005. She blogs regularly about how to use social media and consults on social media best practices. Sue specializes in helping authors create and maintain their online presence. Sue can also be found on these social media sites: