A Teen’s Halloween Memoir Captures the Holiday’s Images

Write My Memoirs Halloween memoir

A few years ago, an anonymous memoir author recalled the quintessential Halloween and posted those memories on teenink.com. Write My Memoirs is happy to share this, titled “Halloween Memoir,” with our community:

In the middle of a numbing January freeze, or a deafening August heat, there will be an odd lingering sensation scratching for attention that can only be calmed by a world of pure discord. A feeling that is annually relieved by the pure bliss of hearing a tune about a man working in his lab late one night, by the aroma of pumpkin pie and glee in the air, mixed in with the smell of wet leaves from the downpour of excitement, and by the sight of children giddily gliding through the streets in sparkling and vivacious outfits as their eyes light up the engulfing night.

Bubbling cauldrons are at every door, seeping down doorsteps and into the minds of all who wander. There are doorbells that yelp at the sight of children singing happily of treats. Spells are cast in every which way and there is the distinct sound of despicable laughter ringing in the blinding moonlight. With the arrival of a glistening full moon there come werewolves howling for human flesh and yellow eyes that flicker all around you, as they begin to circle you. Frantic screams echo through the night and the wicked laughs of murderous clowns come from all around, for they are joyful in knowing that they are finally freed from the lethargic thought of serenity.

Of course, there are chocolates and candies downing throats at every given second. The delicious flavors battling to please candy-obsessed taste buds. Trapped within each and every wall are ghouls wailing, waiting to be freed. Then, there’s the pumpkin picking. The quest for the most perfectly plump, sensationally orange pumpkin in all of creation. The smell dances around in every nook and cranny, frolicking with jubilance to have finally been released to the world.

All of the smells lure children from the warm homes into the chills of an October eve with an enchanting autumn high. The satisfaction of knowing you have the best jack-o-lantern in town as you set him down to witness the complete and utter chaos that will be turning the corner at any given moment. Pumpkin fragrances ooze through the streets once again and rush and play and swing in every place they can possibly slither into. The squirmy guts and sinewy insides are transformed into brains as zombies come out, hungry, oh so hungry for the meaty, squishy taste they can’t resist.

The heavily anticipated darkness finally twirls the Earth into its beautiful black cloak with a menacing grin. The world is able to escape all the bad and all the good as the true meaning of being alive lightens the minds of all. No longer existing, no longer being, but living. Living for the candy and living for the frenzy that comes only at this special, haunting hour. Bags heavy with what only the heavens could supply, but nothing could stop the unraveling path of fate. Candy fills round tummies for ages, and the aches and hunger seem to last forever.

Arriving home and finally sitting down, but instead greeted with a flabbergasting fall into bed, perpetually falling into a bottomless rabbit hole of despair, for it is now well known that the night is over. Eyes are finally pried open the next morning and the vivid sensations of the prior eve circle around, reminding all that the night must be awaited for an agonizingly long period of time. Every glimpse of candy, the faint sound of a howl, or a terrified shriek, a mocking reminder of the thrill we long for. Now we await patiently, patiently anticipating the reveal of all evil and abnormalities within, as we free the caged monster that has been abstracted by the foolish term that goes by the name of “normalcy,” the caged monster that is crawling within us all.

New Feature: Post Your Writing at Write My Memoirs!

Our Write My Memoirs community and services are growing!

While we provide publishing services to help you publish your book, we’re hearing from some authors who do not want “paper publishing” but would prefer to share their work by displaying it online. Some people want to share with the public, and some want a link to send just to friends, family or other selected people.

In response, we have created a new section on Write My Memoirs that gives you, the author, your own publishing page! See an example here of an author who would love for you to read her stories. As you can see, we place the copyright symbol with your name at the top of the page to protect the work.

Let us know that you would like to post your work, and we’ll create a page for you. You can use our Contact Us form or write us directly at: support@writemymemoirs.com

Our tech department is working on a way for you to upload your work, but for right now you can just email the work to the “support” address, and we’ll get it online within a day or two. Then we’ll supply you with a link to share. Feel free to include images.

This is a good way to get feedback little by little as you write each chapter. You can learn how people are reacting to your writing and continuously polish it as you work to complete your book. And if you’d like, at our very reasonable prices we’ll supply a quick edit before you display your work.

Lizzo Reflects a Common Memoir Theme: Life Happens, and You Fix It

There’s a song out right now, “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo, that has the lyric:
“Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me.
Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me.”

That way of thinking proves to be a catalyst for many memoir authors. Your problems happen to you through no fault of your own, but you manage to turn them around or triumph over them. You change the direction of your destiny through sheer will and hard work.

As a child you suffered neglect, poverty, family dysfunction, maybe abuse—and look at you now. You mended your broken parts and became a whole adult. Or you fell into a downward spiral of addiction until you kicked it for good.

Maybe the redemption wasn’t as dramatic. You were a clumsy kid who became an accomplished athlete. Or you left Wall Street to run a small farm and love it. Or you took a chance on surgery that cured a debilitating medical condition. It can even be what Lizzo says: you figured out what you were doing wrong in romance, and now you have a great relationship.

We’re driven to share our win against the odds or the formula we devised all on our own for repairing our situation. It’s not about bragging, just documenting. We write it all out to add weight to the fact that it happened. The writing provides a bit of therapy—or at least closure. It’s letting out a breath we’ve held for so long. Phew. We did it, and now we wrote about it. And we hope that sharing our story will help others facing a similar set of circumstances.

If you’re looking in the mirror and seeing someone you’re relieved to finally be, no wonder you want describe who you are now and how you got from then to now.

What Motivates a Writer to Keep Writing? It’s Not What You Think!

Deciding to write a memoir is the easy part, right? It’s the writing that gets hard. It’s exciting at the beginning to think of the name of your book, jot down possible chapter topics and dig up old photos to remind you of times past.

But then you sit down at the computer to craft the words, one by one, that will express what you want readers to know about you. It may surprise you, especially if you’re a new author, how much motivation it takes to write day after day. Sometimes you edit or rewrite what you already have. Other times you skip a day or two altogether. Soon a week may pass without one word added to your memoir. And we all know how one week can lead into the next.

So what do you do? Everything you can think of.

  • You read books on memoir writing.
  • You attend a writing seminar.
  • You tell friends that you’re writing a memoir for the same reason people tell friends they’re trying to lose weight—saying it out loud makes it a real goal with people expecting to hear about your progress.
  • You find a “memoir buddy” to compare writing challenges and keep each other accountable.

And after all that, you still have trouble sticking with the project. You look at your work and doubt yourself. Fear, whatever—you are not making progress.

Writers’ secret weapon

You’re overlooking the obvious. A writer’s secret weapon against becoming discouraged is simple and available. When you were younger, you regularly learned new skills or got obsessed over a new hobby. Maybe you picked up an instrument, joined a sports team, tried your hand at painting—whatever it was, you expected a learning curve. You knew you wouldn’t be that great at first. But you had your piano teacher, tennis coach—someone who would give you one-on-one instruction and critique. Little by little you’d improve. And the better you got at what you were doing, what happened? The more you wanted to do it.

Writing is the same. You don’t need another book or seminar or amateur buddy. What will motivate you is a professional who will not only edit your work but explain all of your personal writing pitfalls. You have this grammar issue or that organization problem. Your sentences tend to be short and choppy or long and rambling. You want to tell how you feel about something instead of describing it vividly enough for the reader to feel what you feel just from the description.

When you read your own ideas, words and life experiences in a polished writing form—when you can say I am proud of this chapter—that’s when you’ll be motivated to keep writing. You’ll keep getting better, but that’s not the only thing you’ll notice. You’ll see that you are fearless, because the editor is your safety net. You don’t have to doubt yourself. Just write, and if it’s not perfect you’ll find out why in a forgiving, nonjudgmental manner.

As always, Write My Memoirs would be honored to be trusted to edit your life story. Visit our Writing Services page to find out more.

Is It Writer’s Block or Creative Anxiety?

For some people the problem is getting started. Others have trouble maintaining momentum. Still others go along fine until they hit a wall regarding a particular topic or chapter. Commonly referred to as “writer’s block,” this condition seems to affect all writers sooner or later. So what is it really?

A guy named Eric Maisel at dailyom.com offers a course he calls “Creative Anxiety” to help people overcome their roadblocks to writing, art and other creative pursuits. I am not endorsing his course—it may be helpful but I have no personal knowledge about it one way or the other. I’m referencing it because I like the way he’s reframed the writer’s block concept. Creative anxiety precisely describes what I’m hearing from authors here at Write My Memoirs and beyond.

“Many believe that the symptoms below are just ‘part of the creative process,’ but they are actually representative of a deeper, more damaging problem,” Maisel writes on his website. “If left unmanaged, the creative person in question may find that their creative work is too taxing mentally and stop altogether, opting for a ‘less emotionally complicated’ path in life.”

You don’t want a less emotionally complicated life, right? You want to write!

Maisel lists these symptoms of creative anxiety:

  • Procrastination.
  • Avoidance of creative work altogether.
  • Finding excuses to not be marketing your work.
  • Fear of showing your work to the public.
  • Being unable to make a creative decision.
  • Comparing your work to others in an unconstructive way.
  • Feelings of being not good enough.
  • Getting angry when others give you criticism.
  • Feeling depressed if others don’t respond how you’d hoped they would.
  • Consistently not taking advantage of opportunities because your work is “not quite ready yet.”
  • Giving your work away for free, when you know you should be charging.
  • Starting new projects before you’ve finished your old ones.
  • Thinking that other peoples ideas are generally better than yours.
  • Having trouble deciding on what project to tackle.
  • Either talking to others constantly about your creative work (that you’re not actually doing), or avoiding the subject altogether, at all costs.

Do you see yourself in that list? The relevant items I see most in writers are procrastinating, fear that other people won’t think the work is good and losing confidence in being able to determine what to write about. And then I’d add one: generally overthinking the whole writing process. This overthinking comes in the form of spending all day reading articles and books about writing, posting and messaging people in online writing groups, and watching videos about writers and writing. Then all day turns into all week.

The answer is that you have to sit at the computer and write. Edit later, show people later, read up on some fine points later. For a big chunk of the day, you have to write. The more you do it, the easier it gets, the faster you can write and the more confidence you’ll gain. Gradually, your anxiety will fade and the excitement will kick in.

Write Like No One’s Reading

Google “Why is writing so hard?” and you’ll pull up lots of excuses. We don’t set aside time. We don’t make writing a habit. We’re new at writing, and everything new is hard. And a big one—we’re scared that our writing won’t be any good.

Dance Write like no one’s watching reading!

You could say the same about dancing, but a few beers later we’re all out on the dance floor enjoying life. The saying, “Dance like no one’s watching,” encourages us to go and do what we want to do and forget about what other people think. Why not approach writing the same way? But ditch the few beers, unless you really need them.

Dancing is actually harder, because it’s physical activity. There’s not much effort in pushing keyboard letters. The hard part is all in your head. But you’ve done much of the hardest part already. If you want to write a memoir, you have some idea of what you’ll write. Is it hard to sit on a chair and type? Or lean back on the couch and speak into a talk-to-text? It really isn’t.

To get started, write anything. Absolutely anything that gets even a little close to something you want in your memoir. Tell one story or describe one emotional reaction that you know very, very well. If there will be a hard part of your memoir, this is not it. This is not the chapter that makes you cry or wince or feel terrible all over again as you did when you actually lived the words. This first stab at your first draft is just one piece of your life that you know you can explain.

And that’s it for today. Tomorrow you’ll read it, and you’ll see that you kind of like it; you’ll add to it or write a new story. Or you’ll read it and hate it, so you’ll fix it or delete it altogether and start over. By day three you’ll begin to feel like a writer. You’ll look at your calendar and decide which days you will definitely write. You’ll think, “I can do this.” And you know what? You can.

Join Us for Mentoring and Support in a Facebook Group!

The Write My Memoirs community is growing, with a new page for authors to share work and discuss the writing process. Whether you’re writing a memoir or crafting a different type of book—fiction or nonfiction—you are welcome at the Write My Memoirs Group page. I will personally help you with writing, grammar, motivation and validation.

The more authors I meet, the more I’m convinced that a group setting is beneficial. We all get so deeply into our heads as we write alone at our computer hour after hour. Facebook groups of all sorts bring together people who are dealing with a common situation. It’s so helpful, whether the members share a medical diagnosis, profession, hobby, family situation, lifestyle choice—the list is long. In our case, we’ll all be writers comparing notes—literally!

I will coach you both as a group and individually. You also will mentor each other. Sound fun? It will be. Hope to see you there. Just ask to join, and I’ll admit you! Here’s the link again:
Write My Memoirs Facebook Group

You Want to Write a Memoir, But You Don’t Know What to Write About

If you want to write a memoir, the topic is obvious: you! But it’s not always so simple, is it?

Most people who write memoirs have a burning desire to describe a particular episode in, or time period of, their life. Typically, these are stories of redemption. The author may have triumphed over a rough childhood or rebounded after an abusive marriage. Perhaps the author was a victim of a crime and wants to document the facts as well as the emotional fallout. The episode could be pivotal in a more positive way, such as winning a lottery, or the memoir could track a time period during which the author’s life took an unusual turn, such as adopting a dozen children.

But what if your life doesn’t offer any of that? Maybe you’ve lived what seems to be a pretty ordinary life. You just want to write a memoir because, unusual or not, your life is special to you and you’d like to write it all down.

One way to approach a pretty ordinary life story is to abandon the memoir format of choosing just one aspect of your life and, instead, write a more comprehensive autobiography. Many people want to leave something in writing so that their children and grandchildren know details about their heritage. In that case, a full autobiography makes sense. It will provide your descendants with the facts about the people who came before them. It will convey your impressions of what it was like to grow up in the time and place of your early years. It will explain why you made the choices that you made.

If you prefer to write a memoir, though, even what seems like an unexceptional life contains many interesting moments. Think through your life, and write down five to ten episodes that stand out. Does one jump out more than the others as either somewhat unusual or especially meaningful to your life? Or does a pattern emerge that can serve as a theme and include more than one episode? Analyze the way you handle challenges. Is there a lesson there? Examine what you’ve done right that has delivered good results for you—maybe that’s where the lesson lies. Perhaps a long relationship with a friend or relative holds an interesting dynamic.

If you want to write a memoir, you’ll find something to write about. Give it some real thought, and get going!

5 Memoirs Released in Summer 2019

You still have roughly a month before Labor Day to get in some summer reading! Here are five memoirs that already have been released this summer or are coming out later in August:

All That You Leave Behind: A Memoir by Erin Lee Carr. The author, a documentary filmmaker, supplies a raw, honest analysis of her relationship with her father, the late New York Times columnist David Carr, and reflects on his legacy and influence on her own work.

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier. This memoir goes beyond a foodie look at restaurants through the eyes of Esquire food editor Gordinier, traveling with famed chef René Redzepi, and provides insight into life.

One-Way Ticket: Nine Lives on Two Wheels by Jonathan Vaughters. Cycling enthusiasts especially will appreciate this memoir from Vaughters, a leading figure on the controversial playground of world cycling and one-time teammate to Lance Armstrong.

Thank You for My Service by Mat Best, Ross Patterson and Nils Parker. Funny and surprising, this memoir by a five-tour Army Ranger and veterans’ advocate takes the reader inside the military, laughing all the way.

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom. Frequent magazine contributor Broom tells her story as the daughter of a mom who bought a long, narrow “shotgun” house in New Orleans and how race, class and Hurricane Katrina shaped the family.

What Types of Memoirs Sell?

Getting published can feel like such a crap shoot. No wonder memoir writers doubt whether they have a story that’s compelling enough to appeal to publishers. At Write My Memoirs we believe that every life is interesting and worth documenting, and we help our writers self-publish so that they will have a book to hand out to friends and family. But getting a monetary offer from a publishing company that wants to publish your book is a whole different kettle of fish.

As I look over the 2019 “best memoirs” lists, I’m finding several common themes among the books that get published and then land on these lists. The books from 2019 tend to break down into four categories:

  1. Celebrity. Being famous is the obvious way to get a memoir published. Unfortunately, that route is not open to all of us. But you can be barely famous if you’re around celebrities all the time and will dish on things you know about them—or if you’re related to, or a good friend of, someone very famous. This summer saw the release of Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs. So her memoir sort of doubles as a biography of her famous dad, who’s the one readers are more interested in.
  2. Highly unusual life event. This seems to be the dominant category for the non-famous writer. If any segment of your life—job, childhood, illness—is way off the typical path, people will be interested in reading about it. Tara Westover’s Educated and Karen Keilt’s The Parrot’s Perch: A Memoir are good examples of this. And, as with celebrity, you can write from your own perspective if the person with the unusual life event is a close friend or relative, as Tom Weidlinger does about his father in The Restless Hungarian: Modernism, Madness, and The American Dream.
  3. Moderately unusual life event. Lots of people have had cancer, but writers keep finding new ways to share the experience. You can perhaps focus on the aspect that was the most unusual or talk about your very individual way of processing it. In No Happy Endings: A Memoir, author Nora McInerny tells what it’s like to lose a father, husband and unborn child all within a year. While that much loss all at once is not typical, it’s also not unheard of, but McInerny has a way of connecting with the reader. Another popular 2019 memoir, On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff, takes the reader through the author’s experience of triumphing over her own difficulties by helping others heal at yoga retreats. There are tons of yoga teachers out there, but Pastiloff tells a new story.
  4. Fresh twist on ordinary life. Although this strikes me as the toughest category to break through in publishing, a very gifted writer can do it. You just have to be a keen observer of life. We all are players in some story every day; it’s the way you look at it that makes it uniquely interesting. While this type of memoir can be poignant, typically it’s written with humor. With this year’s release of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, author Trevor Noah joins a long list of comedians who put their humorous spin on their life story. Sharing life’s true experiences in some form of memoir is a regular pastime for Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler and many others. And although the celebrity factor plays here, their humor and writing is part of what made them famous, so the books stand on their own.