Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Hey, Charlie Sheen, Write a Memoir!

To Charlie Sheen: Write a Memoir!
Say what you want about him, but clearly Mr. Charlie Sheen has an audience. I was shocked when his upcoming one-man show, “My Violent Torpedo of Truth,??? sold out here in Chicago within 15 minutes. Like many of us, Charlie wants to tell his own story from his point of view—and make a little money from it. What Charlie should do is write a memoir.
You own your story in the same way. Perhaps one day your children will write their memoirs and feature you fairly prominently. Maybe your former spouse, business associate, employee or friend will pen an autobiography with a chapter devoted to his or her relationship with you. Then suddenly you become Martin Sheen (Charlie’s dad) or Chuck Lorre (Charlie’s boss)—your reputation is in the hands of someone seeking to expose a “torpedo of truth??? about you. When you have your own memoir out there, that’s all the ammunition you need to have your side of the story heard as well.
I certainly hope you do not have the level of conflict and drama in your life that Charlie Sheen has in his. But if you ask five people to describe any situation, you’re likely to get five different perspectives and, often, a pile of contradictory “facts.??? So while many people look at this Sheen Show as a train wreck or a circus, I consider it a lesson: make sure that your voice is heard. Put your life story in writing.

Say what you want about him, but clearly Mr. Charlie Sheen has an audience. I was shocked when his upcoming one-man show, “My Violent Torpedo of Truth,??? sold out here in Chicago within 15 minutes. Like many of us, Charlie wants to tell his own story from his point of view—and make a little money from it. What Charlie should do is write a memoir.

You own your story in the same way. Perhaps one day your children will write their memoirs and feature you fairly prominently. Maybe your former spouse, business associate, employee or friend will pen an autobiography with a chapter devoted to his or her relationship with you. Then suddenly you become Martin Sheen (Charlie’s dad) or Chuck Lorre (Charlie’s boss)—your reputation is in the hands of someone seeking to expose a “torpedo of truth??? about you. When you have your own memoir out there, that’s all the ammunition you need to make sure that your side of the story receives equal play.

I certainly hope you do not have the level of conflict and drama in your life that Charlie Sheen has in his. But if you ask five people to describe any situation, you’re likely to get five different perspectives and, often, a pile of contradictory “facts.??? So while many people look at this Sheen Show as a train wreck or a circus, I consider it a lesson: make sure that your voice is heard. Put your life story in writing.

Oprah Says: Your Memoirs May Help Others

Oprah Says: Your Memoirs May Help Others
Did you see Oprah’s recent interview of Meredith Baxter? Meredith has been making the talk show circuit to publicize her new memoir, Untied, and Oprah devoted a full hour to the book. Like many memoirs, Baxter’s story revealed a life filled with personal challenges. She grew up with neglectful parents, faced spousal abuse, took up alcohol for a time, battled cancer and came out as a lesbian. It’s not your typical life.
But unusual circumstances are exactly what prompt many people to write their memoirs. Part of the motivation is that catharsis of getting it all out there and off your chest. But Oprah hit it when she mentioned the other part: hoping to save others from the same fate. We all can feel so alone when dealing with hardship. Reading other people’s accounts of how they handled that same difficulty can make us feel less alone as well as, perhaps, showing us ways to solve our problems. Although I don’t remember her exact words, I recall hearing Oprah making a very pointed statement, something like: you hope when you write these things that you’ll help other people who find themselves in a similar situation.
Now and then one of our members confirms that, telling us, “I had a terrible childhood and want my story out there to help others.??? The memoir can serve as a cautionary tale or an uplifting assurance of redemption. If Oprah says so, it must be true!

Blog 82Did you see Oprah’s recent interview of Meredith Baxter? Meredith has been making the talk show circuit to publicize her new memoir, Untied, and Oprah devoted a full hour to the book. Like many memoirs, Baxter’s autobiography revealed a life filled with personal challenges. She grew up with neglectful parents, faced spousal abuse, took up alcohol for a time, battled cancer and came out as a lesbian. It’s not your typical life.

But unusual circumstances are exactly what prompt many people to write their memoirs. Part of the motivation is that catharsis of getting it all out there and off your chest, and Oprah really nailed it when she mentioned the other part: hoping to save others from the same fate. We all can feel so alone when dealing with hardship. Reading other people’s accounts of how they handled that same difficulty can make us feel less alone as well as, perhaps, showing us ways to solve our problems. Although I don’t remember her exact words, I recall hearing Oprah making a very pointed statement, something like: you hope when you write these things that you’ll help other people who find themselves in a similar situation.

Now and then one of our members confirms that, telling us, “I had a terrible childhood and want my story out there to help others.??? The memoir can serve as a cautionary tale or an uplifting assurance of redemption. If Oprah says so, it must be true!

Oates Memoir Examines a Familiar Emotion: Grief

Oates Memoir Examines a Familiar Emotion: Grief
I’ve enjoyed some fiction by prolific author Joyce Carol Oates, so I was interested to learn that she’s written a memoir that does not follow the traditional mold of telling her life story but, rather, covers primarily the mourning period that somewhat paralyzed her creativity after her husband’s death. The recently published book, A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, was featured this past Sunday in the New York Times Book Review.
As a memoir writer yourself, you may fear that you have nothing new to say about life on earth, that every observation already has found its way into print or onto the Internet. Oates is not the first woman in her late 60s to lose a husband to pneumonia at age 77. This is not a tragic tale; it’s an ordinary one. Yet every story is different. To be sure, Oates brings her considerable gifts as a writer to keep the reader engaged in her narrative, but the real hook is simply the uniqueness of every human experience, every personal relationship, every life.
You don’t have to blaze new ground with your memoir. While many people may share your history in one aspect or another, no one has built the same combination of experiences. You are sole owner of the episodes in your life, and your recollections further reveal your unique reactions. Someone else would have made other choices, acted in different ways. Your memoir will be something that no one else could have authored—only you.

blog81I’ve enjoyed some fiction by prolific author Joyce Carol Oates, so I was interested to learn that she’s written a memoir that does not follow the traditional mold of telling her life story but, rather, covers primarily the mourning period that somewhat paralyzed her creativity after her husband’s death. The recently published book, A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, was featured this past Sunday in the New York Times Book Review.

As a memoir writer yourself, you may fear that you have nothing new to say about life on earth, that every observation already has found its way into print or onto the Internet. Oates is not the first woman in her late 60s to lose a husband to pneumonia at age 77. This is not a tragic tale; it’s an ordinary one. Yet every story is different. To be sure, Oates brings her considerable gifts as a writer to keep the reader engaged in her narrative, but the real hook is simply the uniqueness of every human experience, every personal relationship, every life.

You don’t have to blaze new ground with your memoir. While many people may share your history in one aspect or another, no one has built the same combination of experiences. You are sole owner of the episodes in your life, and your recollections further reveal your unique reactions. Someone else would have made other choices, acted in different ways. Your memoir will be something that no one else could have authored—only you.

Your Name as a Pun in the Title of Your Memoir

Your Name as a Pun in the Title of Your Memoir
To pick up from the post two weeks ago, as promised I will share with you some autobiography titles that are puns. The idea is to think of your first or last name as if it’s just a word. Does it sound like any other word? If that doesn’t work, maybe your story focuses heavily on your profession and you can use that instead. An example is the memoir of singer Davy Jones, They Made a Monkee Out of Me.
Some names are easier than others. When Chris Lemmon wrote a biography of his father, actor Jack Lemmon, their shared last name served up all sorts of ideas. He could have selected “Lemmon Aid??? or “Lemmon Juice??? or something, but he chose A Twist of Lemmon. The 2009 autobiography of “Full House??? actress Jody Sweetin is titled Unsweetined: A Memoir, while actor David Hasselhoff drew from both his name and his nickname to publish Don’t Hassel the Hoff.
“M.A.S.H.??? actor Jamie Farr could have gone with the obvious and called his memoir something like “Going Too Farr,??? but instead he chose to make the pun on the word “for??? and titled it Just Farr Fun. Go figure. Probably my favorite pun title belongs to Hank Ketchum, the creator of Dennis the Menace, who named his autobiography Merchant of Dennis. Give it some thought. Maybe hidden in your name lies the potential to devise a catchy title for your life story

To pick up from the post two weeks ago, as promised I will share with you some autobiography titles that are puns. The idea is to think of your first or last name as if it’s just a word. Does it sound like any other word? If that doesn’t work, maybe your story focuses heavily on your profession and you can use that instead. An example is the memoir of singer Davy Jones, They Made a Monkee Out of Me.

Some names are easier than others. When Chris Lemmon wrote a biography of his father, actor Jack Lemmon, their shared last name served up all sorts of ideas. He could have selected “Lemmon Aid??? or “Lemmon Juice??? or something, but he chose A Twist of Lemmon. The 2009 autobiography of “Full House??? actress Jody Sweetin is titled Unsweetined: A Memoir, while actor David Hasselhoff drew from both his name and his nickname to publish Don’t Hassel the Hoff.

“M.A.S.H.??? actor Jamie Farr could have gone with the obvious and called his memoir something like “Going Too Farr,??? but instead he chose to make the pun on the word “for??? and titled it Just Farr Fun. Go figure. Probably my favorite pun title belongs to Hank Ketchum, the creator of Dennis the Menace, who named his autobiography Merchant of Dennis. Give it some thought. Maybe hidden in your name lies the potential to devise a catchy title for your life story that no one else is likely to have.

“Dynasty??? Star’s Memoir Proves the Point

“Dynasty??? Star’s Memoir Proves the Point
In the last blog, I suggested ways to write a memoir that isn’t quite a memoir but, rather, blends autobiographical details with other interests you might have. I included the idea of a cookbook that perhaps would recount experiences you’d had when you served the dishes in the recipes.
In this past Sunday’s Parade Magazine, this cookbook idea came up as part of the celebrity Q&A section, “Personality Parade.??? In response to a reader’s query about whether actress Linda Evans, who appeared on the 1980s TV show “Dynasty,??? might write her memoir. Evans confirmed to Parade that she is, indeed, writing an unconventional memoir: “I’m not doing a tell-all because it’s not my style. It’s a book called Recipes for Life, in which I’ll incorporate two of my favorite things—cooking and eating.???
I had no idea this book was in the works, but I’m glad to see that someone like Linda Evans confirms that this genre blend is a viable concept. So if you’ve ever wanted to write any type of instructional manual but also enjoy talking about yourself, you can accomplish both goals in one book. As Evans says, then you’re not focusing on the tell-all aspect of a memoir but relating information in a natural manner that doesn’t have to dance around topics you’d rather not i

In the last blog, I suggested ways to write a memoir that isn’t quite a memoir but, rather, blends autobiographical details with other interests you might have. I included the idea of a cookbook that perhaps would recount experiences you’d had when you served the dishes in the recipes.

In this past Sunday’s Parade Magazine, this cookbook idea came up as part of the celebrity Q&A section, “Personality Parade,??? in response to a reader’s query about whether actress Linda Evans, who appeared on the 1980s TV show Dynasty, might write her memoir. Evans confirmed to Parade that she is, indeed, writing an unconventional memoir: “I’m not doing a tell-all because it’s not my style. It’s a book called Recipes for Life, in which I’ll incorporate two of my favorite things—cooking and eating.???

I had no idea this book was in the works, but I’m glad to see that someone like Linda Evans confirms that this genre blend is a viable concept. So if you’ve ever wanted to write any type of instructional manual but also enjoy talking about yourself, you can accomplish both goals in one book. As Evans says, then you’re not focusing on the tell-all aspect of a memoir but relating information in a natural manner that doesn’t have to dance around topics you’d rather not include.

What do Teen Autobiographers Write About?

I’m sure you’re excited to learn that passages are being leaked from First Step 2 Forever: My Story, the autobiography of 16-year-old Justin Bieber. Or maybe you’ve never even heard of Justin Bieber, the latest sensation to top the pop charts. In either case, perhaps you wonder: what’s there to write about when you’ve been on the planet only 16 years?

Apparently, there’s enough to inspire quite a few young people to tell their life story, short though it might be. Of course, there’s childhood. Actress Drew Barrymore’s autobiography, also written at the age of 16, recounted less-than-innocent early years with the introduction of drugs and alcohol, and Kelly Osbourne, who waited until she was a ripe 24 before penning her memoir, told some harrowing tales about growing up under the same roof as dad Ozzy. Gymnast Shawn Johnson, 16 when she wrote her book, and British soccer star Wayne Rooney, who was 22, each focused on a life dedicated to competition and sportsmanship. At just 15, both American pop’s Miley Cyrus and British classical vocalist Charlotte Church revealed details about their somewhat ordinary childhood that proceeded during their very extraordinary rise to fame.

These young authors wrote memoirs more for their fans than for themselves or their families. You may not have legions of fans, but if mere teens can find enough interesting about their lives to craft an autobiography, certainly you can draw on your experiences to knock out a book’s worth of chapters. Keep writing!

Own Your Life Story—Or Someone Else Might

Own Your Life Story—Or Someone Else Might
You’re probably not nearly as famous as poet Emily Dickinson. But if you’re on the fence about whether to write your memoirs, you might want to consider what’s still happening 124 years after Dickinson’s death.
The New York Times last Sunday reviewed Lives Like Loaded Guns, just the latest in a series of Emily Dickinson biographies that guess, speculate, presume and assume regarding all sorts of details involving the somewhat mysterious Miss Dickinson and the feuds that allegedly drew in her family. The book reviewer, Christopher Benfey, repeatedly questioned the assumptions made by the book’s author, Lyndall Gordon. Further, Benfey addressed Gordon’s assertion that “Dickinson scholars remain divided??? about their subject’s feelings toward two particular people in her life.
Most likely your life story will not attract scholars, much less be fascinating enough to divide them. Still, there are lots of people writing memoirs, and you just might end up mentioned in one of them. When you’re the one writing about your own life, you will set straight all the facts and explain your feelings about the people around you. No one will have to wonder why you quit that job, broke up that romance, chose to pursue that area of study or did whatever it is that will remain an inaccessible fact if other people are the only ones who write about you.

You’re probably not nearly as famous as poet Emily Dickinson. But if you’re on the fence about whether to write your memoirs, you might want to consider what’s still happening 124 years after Dickinson’s death.

The New York Times last Sunday reviewed Lives Like Loaded Guns, just the latest in a series of Emily Dickinson biographies that guess, speculate, presume and assume regarding all sorts of details involving the somewhat mysterious Miss Dickinson and the feuds that allegedly drew in her family. The book reviewer, Christopher Benfey, repeatedly questioned the assumptions made by the book’s author, Lyndall Gordon. Further, Benfey addressed Gordon’s assertion that “Dickinson scholars remain divided??? about their subject’s feelings toward two particular people in her life.

Most likely your life story will not attract scholars, much less be fascinating enough to divide them. Still, there are lots of people writing memoirs, and you just might end up mentioned in one of them. When you’re the one writing about your own life, you will set straight all the facts and explain your feelings about the people around you. No one will have to wonder why you quit that job, broke up that romance, chose to pursue that area of study or did whatever it is that will remain an inaccessible fact if other people are the only ones who write about you.

Vote For the Worst Celebrity Memoir

The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com) is taking a poll to determine which celebrity has the worst memoir. If you’re not bored enough to participate in that poll or even read it, I will clue you into what the votes indicate thus far.

The poll offers a continuum of choices 1 through 10, with 1 being “not too bad??? and 10 being “Awful!??? At this point the books and ratings are, in order from the least bad to the most awful: Jane Fonda, My Life So Far, 3.8; Kim Catrall’s Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm, 5.4; George Hamilton, Don’t Mind If I Do, 5.4; Teri Hatcher, Burnt Toast and Other Philosophies of Life, 5.7; Rosie O’Donnell, Celebrity Detox, 5.7; Suzanne Somers, Knockout: Interviews With Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer, 5.8; Macauley Culkin, Junior, 6.4; Lauren Conrad, L.A. Candy, 6.5; Saddam Hussein, Be Gone Demons!, 6.9; Nicole Richie, The Truth About Diamonds, 6.9; Pamela Anderson, Star Struck: A Novel, 7.1; Naomi Campbell’s Swan, 7.3; Fabio’s Wild, 7.3; Victoria Beckham, Learning to Fly, 7.4; Larry the Cable Guy, Git-R-Done, 7.4; David Hasselhoff’s Making Waves, 7.5; Britney Spears, Heart to Heart, 7.8; Paris Hilton’s Confessions of an Heiress, 8.0; Tila Tequila’s Hooking Up With Tila Tequila, 8.1; Carrie Prejean’s Still Standing, 9.3; Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, 9.4.

Keep in mind that people who go to that website may lean more to the left than to the right politically. Now go back to writing your own memoir, and someday maybe it will get rated!


Read This Online Autobiography to Study Memoir Style

Many of you trying to write your memoirs may never have written anything of length before now. While you’ve probably read enough—both fiction and non-fiction—as you try to craft your own autobiography it can be helpful to read passages specifically of others’ life stories. If you can read them online at no charge, that makes it even easier for you.

A classic memoir, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, is a good place to start. Click here for the online version, which lets you pull up one chapter at a time. Certainly language has evolved since Ben Franklin’s time, so you won’t want to imitate the wording. But there’s an elegance to the way he writes that you can aspire to assume for your own work. Also, these chapters give you an idea of how to structure your memoir, which topics are important enough to cover, how to introduce dialogue and how candid to be as you describe your friends and relatives.

According to the website, Franklin’s is considered to be the most acclaimed autobiography to come out of colonial America. It covers his early life, travel, professional training, romantic encounters and all sorts of details of his days from his own perspective. Although Franklin lived to be 84 years old, he ends this account at age 51. This illustrates that you can create a compelling memoir by recording what you’ve accomplished so far before without necessarily waiting until you’re in your senior years.

“American Idol??? Connection Reported to be Contemplating Memoirs

It’s always fun to see which celebrities are planning to write their memoirs. The latest, as reported by digitalspy.com, is Mezhgan Hussainy, whose fiancé is longtime “American Idol??? judge Simon Cowell. Hussainy, 36, was the make-up artist on the set of the show when she started dating the notoriously contrary Cowell.

You might be wondering what a 36-year-old might find so compelling about her life that she already would want to pen an autobiography. Her famous boyfriend, known to closely guard the details of his private life, is not the major focus. Speculation is that Hussainy hopes to share the story of how she and her family fled Afghanistan 20 years ago and immigrated to America.

The digitalspy report quotes a source saying, “Mezhgan really is an amazing woman. She went through so much as a child but she remains full of optimism and positivity. She wants to get her story out in her own words to give hope to others.??? At WriteMyMemoirs, we hear from some of our members who have similar experiences of escaping brutal lives either because of oppressive governments or abusive parents and caretakers. Like Hussainy, they want to get their story out there. Apparently traumatic experiences and wanting to help others are powerful motivators for writing memoirs.

Login

Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!