Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Power of Memoir

The Power of Memoir - A Book Review
By C. Hope Clark

I never wanted to write a memoir. After all, why would people want to know about my family, education, teenage angst, broken marriage, roller coaster kids or love of all things nature? I wouldn't want to read it, much less push it on total strangers. So many writers email me about writing memoirs, and many times I pause, wondering how to advise folks about the topic when I don't see the point in publishing personal history.

Then I was asked to review this book. Honestly, I hesitated. But I believe in giving any writing book a chance and agreed to give it a look-see.

By the end of Chapter One, I had visions of my memoir. I caught myself answering questions, performing exercises, wondering how I could find more hours in my day to give this new writing opportunity a chance.

I can't decide if the author Linda Joy Myers is that good an author or that good a psychotherapist. Whichever the label, she pulls off nicely the lesson on how to write a memoir.

Memoirs can be a can of worms. I once purchased a notebook and labeled each page with a year, beginning with my birth. My goal was to write the things I remembered from each year, in an attempt to see if I could find a reason to write my story. I quit at year 5. Too much stuff . . . and I wasn't even up to elementary school. The task overwhelmed me, and the journal sits in a desk drawer, too pretty to toss. Besides, I envisioned memoirs as stories belonging to celebrities, victims and heroes.

Then Linda Joy spoke of turning points in Chapter Three. "Choosing the major events - events that changed you profoundly - points to possible themes and stories to include." I didn't need pen and paper to define my turning point. Suddenly, the theme took form as to what my memoir would contain if written. Step by step, she took my hand, making a memoir seem so noble, so healing, almost a clear path toward a brighter future.

The Power of Memoir is not just about writing a memoir. It's about finding yourself through writing. Whether you want to publish your life or not, this book helps you sort through the moments, define the ones that matter most, and assist you in feeling better about putting your stories on paper. And you will enjoy the guidance.

Bravo, Ms. Myers. Two thumbs up.
Available at Amazon.


Christine Macdonald said...

I'm picking this up tomorrow. In the middle (ok near middle?) of writing my memoir about my life as a stripper / drug addict for 10 years in Waikiki (1987-1997).

Thank you for your blog - and the wonderful words.



Susan said...

It sounds like a great book, Hope. Thanks for the review! Sincerely, Susan

Nancy Julien Kopp said...

You've made a strong statement in favor of this new writing book. So much so, that I think I need to order it today! Memoir writing doesn't need to be published work. If it is only for your family, it's still a worthwhile endeavor.