Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days: Step by Step Instructions for Creating and Publishing Your Personal Story by Roberta Temes

How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days: Step by Step Instructions for Creating and Publishing Your Personal Story.  Roberta Temes, Ph. D. The Readers Digest Association, Incorporated. March 2014. 192 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781621451457.

For many readers who want to be writers, this “how to” book may seem either a God-send or another “come-on” or trick.  But in reality it is quite the former.  No, it’s not about just making a laundry list of memorable events in one’s life or the places to where one’s traveled.  No, it’s not about the famous people met.  It’s about encapsulating the thoughts and feelings about any summary of one’s life or singular people and events that led to more questions, analysis, feelings and perhaps even a moment compelling a change of direction or return to a former direction, or whatever emerges from the memory! It’s about the poignant, powerful, funny, sad and whatever moments to which we can all relate, and therefore it’s worthy of insertion in a memoir that will then appeal to all human readers.

The chapters are so devised that the suggestions belie any triviality or contriving a story that one hopes will totally engage readers.  It mandates honestly directly stated or written with subtlety more suitable to those prefer nuances.  Some examples – Imagine a moment when you were just “waiting” for something; describe it; describe an incident that changed the course of your life…because it was “beautiful, frightening, unusual, spiritual; describe (one by one) the conflicts in your life and how you reached within yourself to cope with them (can include strengths and failures); respond to trigger phrases such as how naive I was and then woke up to realize that…; describe a scene where something occurred that changed your thinking; write about moments when you observed something unique or common and describe how it affected you; etc. etc.

Sample responses are provided that keep one from moving into empty clich√©s or status quo responses; these are quite inspiring because they reveal some vulnerable or potent experiences, working because they are really more about uniquely internal reflections instead of standard experiences we all have. We may all have the same thoughts and feelings, yet the differences in experiencing them and expressing them is so powerful when someone else writes about them in this way.  An example: “…It is not an exaggeration to say I expected gold in the streets.  It was heartbreaking to arrive in the United States and live in a run-down apartment…” The writer sets his or her hopes on studying to make the American dream come true and sacrifices immensely to attain that dream – it’s not summarized like this sentence but we get a brief but determined paragraph on what led to the desire to study to succeed.

The author provides some comments after the samples, many of which include the correct use of words and grammar which enhances conveying one’s entire message, rather than distracting from it. Turning flat sentences into dynamic communication by adding “action” to one’s scenes is a wonderful chapter that adds reliability to one’s memoir which in turn guarantees generating constant interest in a reader. Guidance is also offered on how to describe the people in one’s life in an interesting manner and some brief notes are added on pre-publication tips.

All in all, How To Write a Memoir in 30 Days…” is a valuable writing tool for those who wish to start their first book or even those who have already written and are now ready for the memoir phase of their writing craft.  Very well done and highly recommended!  You’ll want to begin trying one or many of these suggestions immediately!


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