Author Diana Raab observes that writing a powerful memoir is more about connecting—and connecting the reader—with your feelings and outlook on life than it is about coming up with tantalizing stories. Reach deeply into yourself, and the power will unfold.
“The most compelling memoirists reveal a deep emotional truth about their lives,” Raab told the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs in an interview promoting a memoir-writing workshop she’s leading this summer at the first annual 2013 Summer Writing Institute of Antioch University, Santa Barbara, California. “I urge my students to ‘get down to their emotional truth.’ Sometimes this is not easy to do, but once the flow begins, it is a very gratifying experience.” The author of two published autobiographical books—Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey—Rabb told the interviewer that a memoir offers a snapshot of your life centered around a theme, which is distinguished from an autobiography, which tells the story of your entire life.
“Memoirs tend to be interesting to read,” she noted, “because our lives are the accumulation of stories—some tender and heartwarming, some frustrating, some boring, and others dark and destructive—all helping to build who we are.”
Scheduled for July 28-August 3 and limited to 10 students, Raab’s workshop will blend teaching techniques ranging from lecture and discussion to critique and writing exercises. If you’re interested, apply here by June 15. (Write My Memoirs is in no way associated with the workshop.)