Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

New Book by Celebrated Author Anna Quindlen Promotes Memoir Writing

Thumbnail of book Write for Your Life

Many people recognize the value of writing and sharing a memoir, but not everyone writes a whole book about it. In her 2022 book, Write for Your Life, celebrated columnist and author Anna Quindlen lists all the reasons to appreciate memoirs.

You have a unique, interesting story to tell, so please write it down, Quindlen urges. Write it for yourself, and write it to share with others. From Anne Frank to the Freedom Writers to anyone who’s ever found comfort in writing and, particularly, memoir writing, we have ample proof that expressing yourself through writing is a worthy pastime.

Memoir Helps You and Your Readers

First, the process of writing about yourself in your own voice benefits you. The continuum Quindlen identifies is that writing causes reflection, which leads to understanding, which leads to happiness. It’s simplified and overstated, but I love that she promotes memoir writing in those terms. Reflecting on your life and maybe interviewing people who know you, and then writing it all down, enlightens you in so many ways. And while I’m not sure Quindlen can guarantee that this new understanding will bring you happiness, I have seen memoir writing become cathartic for people working through trauma or just learning how they’ve arrived at a place in their life.

Quindlen points out that sharing your life story can help strangers who have faced the hardships you faced. For family, your story can provide a history of their own heritage. Friends will enjoy learning more about you. If you’re a woman or a person of color, writing your memoir is even more important, maintains Quindlen, who notes that nearly all the history we know was written by white men. It’s through their lens that we’ve been told the history of everyone. It’s time to pass the pen.

She notes that what gets written down gets remembered. This is so true. If you journal or enjoy corresponding with someone, you can go back and read what you wrote to make it come alive again. Sometimes we tell stories over and over, and then some years go by and we forget some of the details. Write down your family stories, and then you won’t have rely on one person’s memory.

Full Review on Goodreads

I take issue with Quindlen’s whining about the disappearance of handwritten letters. For me, neither the handwriting nor the hard copy carries enough benefits to outweigh the efficiency of keyboarding and email, not to mention how many trees we’re saving.

Click here to read the full Write My Memoirs review of Write for Your Life on Goodreads.

It’s Poetry Month! Can You Write Your Memoir in Verse?

If you prefer to write poetry over prose but still want to write a memoir, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from writing your memoir in poetry. And you wouldn’t be the first by a long shot.

Like a series of stories, a series of poems can break down poem by poem to provide information about a point in time and, taken together, the series will build a full narrative. Poetry is the format, but the genre is still memoir. By the end of the book, the reader learns about a segment of, or significant event in, the author’s life.

So it’s not just a book of poetry by one author. The poems must relate to the topic of the memoir and proceed in an order that makes sense to the reader. As with any memoir, the chapters—or poems—do not have to roll out in chronological order. You can start in the middle, then cover earlier parts, and finish by picking up from that first middle part with a conclusion. You can begin at the end and work backwards, or you can begin at the end and then go to the beginning and follow through full circle. If you’re skilled enough to make it work, your chapters can even jump around. These considerations are no different whether you’re writing in poetry, in prose, or in customary nonfiction reporting.

Currently Memoirs Written in Verse

If you’d like to pick up books of memoirs written as verse, we have some suggestions for you. For some reason, these poet/memoirists are all women. Five of these are listed on bookriot.com.

Inside Out & Back Again
by Thanhhà Lai
A Vietnamese girl has a tough time growing up as a refugee in Alabama.

Memoir: Poems by Honor Moore
by Honor Moore
Reviewing this memoir by the poet Honor Moore, The Village Voice reviewer wrote: “Moore’s poems speak of a strong faith in hard work and in the land of working alone. Her poems mark out both the experiences she describes and . . . the experience of making a book of poems.”

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
The Black girl experiences of the 1960s-1970s fold out through verse.

Poetry for Men: A memoir written across three continents
by The Expiring Mind
Even this one seems to be written by a woman—perhaps it is her message to men told through memoir and poetry.

How I Discovered Poetry
by Marilyn Nelson
One of the country’s celebrated poets uses her craft in 50 poems to describe her 1950s childhood.

The Favorite
by Lucinda Watson
Through 64 poems, the granddaughter of IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr., paints a picture of complicated family relationships and growing up with privilege.

Under the Mesquite
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Somewhat fictionalized, this poetic account tells of a child dealing with her mother’s cancer diagnosis.

Pocket Poetry Day 2022: April 29

April 29 is Pocket Poetry Day. To celebrate poetry, post your poet on social media with the hashtage #PocketPoem. We’d love it if you’d hashtag #writemymemoirs as well!

The 2022 poster shown above was designed by eleventh grader Lara L. from Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers, New York. Her poster won the 2022 National Poetry Month Poster Contest and features a line by 2021 Presidential Inaugural Poet and 2017 National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.

Memoirs of Summer 2020 Have a Familiar Ring

Cover of Loni Love memoir

What do Jessica Simpson, Madeleine Albright, Ihlan Omar, Colin Jost and a whole lot of people you’ve never heard of have in common? They’re all authors of memoirs published this summer. Coming out of one of the strangest summers we’ve ever experienced, what’s different about these memoirs compared with previous ones?


People write about themselves for many reasons, but by the time you publish a memoir it’s because you think someone may be interested in reading about how you solved a problem, came out the other side of a challenge, managed a particular situation or just plain lived as you. That’s as true in summer 2020 as in any other time.

For celebrity authors, the book will sell well if there’s a big reveal. Hey, Jessica Simpson, what was it like to date John Mayer? André Leon Talley, what’s it like to be a Black, gay fashion editor at Vogue?

No matter how fascinating the life, for a memoir to be a good read it still must be written well. As a comedian, Loni Love has an easy time making I Tried to Change So You Don’t Have To entertaining. TV and movie director Barry Sonnenfeld knows how to stage a scene, so it’s not much of a leap to exercise a flair for description while writing Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother. It’s right in journalist Eilene Zimmerman’s wheelhouse to report on her husband’s addiction in Smacked.

Google “memoirs summer 2020,” and you’ll pull up a long list of autobiographical tales that all sound tempting to take a look at. Many of the authors are first-timers, and one summer you may find yourself on one of those lists. Meanwhile, keep writing! And keep reading. These memoirs will inspire you to craft your story as candidly and compellingly as you can.

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.

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.

Get a DNA Test Before You Finish Your Memoir

In the process of writing your memoir, you’re probably researching a bit of your background. You may be checking your parents’ or grandparents’ birthplaces. Maybe you’re asking relatives to fill in a family tree so that you know exactly how you’re related to your cousins. This is what memoir authors have always done. Today you have another tool: the DNA test.

A memoir published earlier this year, Inheritance: A Memoir Of Genealogy, Paternity, And Love, addresses author Dani Shapiro’s discovery that the man who raised her was not her biological father. Shapiro traces her reaction from learning this information through fully processing it and then reflecting on it. She discovered this fact when she used one of the DNA testing companies such as the popular 123andMe or AncestryDNA. Shapiro wasn’t the product of an affair, so she didn’t have to deal with a parent’s infidelity or secret life. She’d known that her parents had sought help for infertility, and she’d been told that her mother had been artificially inseminated with her father’s sperm. It turns out that she came about through donor sperm; eventually Shapiro met her biological father. Her book explores the dynamics of parenthood and identity as she grappled with a fresh view of both.

So think about taking one of these tests. The company will give you the names of people who match you, and you may find out that you share DNA with someone you weren’t expecting to turn up as a relative. Perhaps you could contact the person and expand your knowledge of your biological family either just for your own background information or for inclusion in your story. Like Shapiro, you may decide that the new knowledge provides insight for you and has become an important enough piece of your identity to build the book around it—or maybe just a chapter. As commercials for these companies show, maybe you always thought your family hailed from one country and now you know that there’s a broader mix or you’re from a different part of the world altogether.

Also consider the health information available through these testing services. If you have a genetic condition you weren’t aware of, that could affect your outlook about the future or just become something you’ll want to share in your book. In all likelihood, the test will confirm what you already know, both about your health and your genealogy. But writing a memoir is a big project, and you might as well gather as much information as you can before you put your book out there as the truth about you.

Writing From a Place of Pain

Thank you to today’s guest blogger Julie Ann Toomey, author of the memoir Failure to Thrive: My Journey to Mental Health. Julie Ann tells Write My Memoirs:

This book has been a long time coming. Even in high school I wanted to write a book about my life. I found myself writing down experiences in story form to use

later. I have always wanted to share what I went through so others might understand the struggles a person with mental illness deals with. The push finally came when a business mentor challenged me to do so. I’d been collecting stories for years—I figured it would be easy.

It wasn’t! Through tears, heartache and pain, there was realization, amazement and therapy. It was the hardest, most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done. I discovered so much about myself, but also about others in my life.

Failure to Thrive: My Journey to Mental Health is an emotional roller coaster you won’t want to put down. It’s raw. It’s honest. It’s hopeful. It’s also 100% true and accurate, as far as I could see the truth at the time. Mental illnesses cause the truth to become skewed in ways those not suffering have a hard time understanding. This book shows it. Truth is universal, but perception is everything. This shows the perception of the truth a mental illness forces you to have. Anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder are a real part of life. They need to be understood.

Read this book. Come to understand it. Use it to help others when they need it. Be the change this world needs.

The 12 Days of Memoir

On the first day of Memoir, my memoir coach gave to me….

Here’s a checklist for writing your memoir that just happens to count to 12. It’s from Mary Karr, author of The Art of Memoir.

  1. Paint a physical reality that uses all the senses and exists in the time you’re writing about—a singular, fascinating place peopled with objects and characters we believe in. Should include the speaker’s body or some kinesthetic elements.
  2. Tell a story that gives the reader some idea of your milieu and exploits your talent. We remember in stories, and for a writer, story is where you start.
  3. Package information about your present self or backstory so it has emotional conflict or scene. All the rest of these are interior:
  4. Set emotional stakes—why is the writer passionate about or desperate to deal with the past—the hint of an inner enemy?
  5. Think, figure, wonder, guess. Show yourself weighing what’s true, your fantasies, values, schemes, and failures.
  6. Change times back and forth—early on, establish the “looking back” voice, and the “being in it” voice.
  7. Collude with the reader about your relationship with the truth and memory.
  8. Show not so much how you suffer in long passages, but how you survive. Use humor or an interjecting adult voice to help a reader over the dark places.
  9. Don’t exaggerate. Trust that what you felt deeply is valid.
  10. Watch your blind spots—in revision, if not before, search for reversals. Beware of what you avoid and what you cling to.
  11. (Related to all of the above) Love your characters. Ask yourself what underlay their acts and versions of the past. Sometimes I pray to see people I’m angry at or resentful of as God sees them, which heals both page and heart.
  12. And one big fat caveat: lead with your own talent, which may cause you to ignore all I’ve recommended.

A New Children’s Book Broadens the Write My Memoirs Portfolio

The Publishing Services available at Write My Memoirs were designed to make it easy for Write My Memoirs authors to bring their vision to life in a book. We value our role in making this happen for our authors, and we take a lot of care with the layout of the text and photographs. But we all should get out of our comfort zone now and then, right?

Our latest published book is not a memoir at all, but a story for preschool children. Titled The Case of the Disappearing Kisses, the book is written by Write My Memoirs owner Rosanne Ullman. It’s available for purchase right on the writemymemoirs.com website. Preorders are being accepted now for delivery before Christmas.

If you would like to self-publish a book you have written, please consider using the Publishing Services available with Write My Memoirs. Your book does not have to be a memoir; we publish all reading categories. Our publishing rates are competitive, and we work closely with you to make sure you are happy with the product. Meanwhile, please check out this sweet children’s book! It makes a great gift for any family with small children.

The Case of the Disappearing Kisses

Memoir Watch for June 2018

One way to motivate yourself while you’re writing your own memoir is to read other people’s memoirs. At Write My Memoirs we like to keep you up to date on the upcoming autobiographies that will be available each season. Here are a few of the memoirs coming out in June alone. Follow us on Twitter for more!

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home
Natalie Goldberg
Publication date: June 5
A potentially fatal form of cancer forces the author, a writing teacher and Zen enthusiast, to take a new approach to living and dying.

My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie
Todd Fisher
Publication date: June 5
Losing his mother, Debbie Reynolds, and sister, Carrie Fisher, just a day apart inspired Todd Fisher to share his family’s personal stories and photos.

Sick: A Memoir
Porochista Khakpour
Publication date: June 5
As Lyme Disease gains broader awareness, author Porochista Khakpour’s account of her own struggle with the condition is timely.

Roxane Gay
Publication date: June 19
Prolific writer Roxane Gay looks at body image issues in the aftermath of her weight loss surgery.

Once Upon a Farm
Rory Feek
Publication date: June 19
The surviving half of a country music duo, the author chronicles his life with his young daughter in the two years since the death of his wife and singing partner, Joey Feek.

Room to Dream
David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
Publication date: June 19
Interviews with friends, family members and colleagues give director David Lynch’s memoir a biographical spin as he explores his creative projects and life’s journey.

Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds
Nick Foles
Publication date: June 26
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback reveals how he miraculously came back from a torn ACL to lead his team to Super Bowl glory.



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!