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#187681 - 08/04/09 03:03 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Wisdom&Life]
Sue W. Silverman Offline


Registered: 05/15/09
Posts: 33
Dear Cathi,
Thank you SO much for sharing these personal stories. That means a great deal to me. I am totally blown away by your stories--all your stories. You really DO have a story to tell, a book to write...and more than one.

With that thought, I might suggest that you do think of these various stories as at least two books! (No pressure, of course.) Here's why: a memoir isn't a whole life; it's a slice of a life. In my own situation, even though there is a direct connection between my incestuous childhood and the sexual addiction, I couldn't cram all of this into one book. The book would have been unwieldly. Different energy, different voices.

So, in your situation, I can envision a memoir that would focus upon your childhood, growing up in a military family, living in different cultures. You really could show the more positive (or positive and negative) aspects of living in a military family--all the adventures. That would be fascinating, to understand the impact it had upon your childhood.

Additionally, I can see another memoir that is focused more on your mother and grandmother, that kind of family history. That is just an incredible story.

But, okay, I hear you say that your mother doesn't want you to write about this past. And that is a choice that all memoirists, alas, have to make. It comes down to comfort level, to wanting to respect your family, yes, while, at the same time, as a writer, thinking about owning your stories, your history. By the way, I spend a lot of time on this very subject in Chapter 9 of "Fearless Confessions," how to approach the idea of telling family secrets. There are quotes and examples from other authors who struggled with this very topic, which you might find helpful.

And, it could well be that now isn't the right time to write this second memoir. But, of course, you can always write the other one first.

Meanwhile, slowly and gently, you can spend time talking with your mother about the family history memoir. You know, give her some time to adjust to the idea, learn more about her feelings. Read about how other memoirists have handled this very issue.

I've also had several students (I teach writing at the low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts) who have found themselves in this same situation. It's interesting that, over time, mothers and/or fathers, in many instances, have come to feel more comfortable with the idea of their children writing about the family.

But there's no right way or wrong way. Just a way that you feel comfortable with.

Again, thank you SO very much for sharing these important stories here. I'm incredibly touched.
_________________________
author, "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir"
www.suewilliamsilverman.com

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#187718 - 08/04/09 08:42 PM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Sue W. Silverman]
meredithbead Offline
The Divine Ms M

Registered: 07/07/03
Posts: 4894
Loc: Orange County, California
Cathi, I was thinking -- if you don't get these stories from your Mom and other relatives, one day it will be too late as the older generation will have forgotten the details or passed on. You can tell her you're researching this for your own memories, and won't publish a book in her lifetime. This seems like a fair compromise but of course you need to do what feels right for you.

You're honoring your grandmother and her spirit by writing these memories, not shaming her. Maybe you can make your Mom understand how much this is honoring her and not an expose.
_________________________
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#187721 - 08/04/09 09:09 PM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: meredithbead]
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue and Meredith, you've given excellent advice. What good listeners you are.

Sue, I enjoyed when youshared about listening to whispers while writing. The example was the car accident when you were young. When you noticed the touch of the woman's home you went to for help; a different touch than yoru Dad's.

I listen to whispers when I journal about my yesterdays. I often journal and reflect on the day prior. It's the whispers that cause the most chnge in my life. Very cool that you mentioned that.

You write: " Crafting this scene, I come to realize that writing memory, writing what we remember, is a creative act. We interpret facts about the past in order to reclaim them, make sense of them."

This is so true of journaling.
_________________________
Founder Emeritus of Boomer Women Speak and the National Association of Baby Boomer Women.
www.nabbw.com
www.boomerwomenspeak.com


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#187728 - 08/05/09 12:28 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Dotsie]
Sue W. Silverman Offline


Registered: 05/15/09
Posts: 33
Meredith, that is such helpful feedback you gave to Cathi! Yes, to pose the writing as a tribute, and to speak the truth. That's really what memoir is.

A lot of critics attack memoirists for "airing dirty laundry" in public. Not so at all. Memoir is to explore the past, to discover our truths. And, in this way, it really honors the truth, doesn't it?

This is such an important topic to memoirists. I'm curious as to how others feel about it?
_________________________
author, "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir"
www.suewilliamsilverman.com

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#187729 - 08/05/09 12:37 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Sue W. Silverman]
Sue W. Silverman Offline


Registered: 05/15/09
Posts: 33
HI, Dotsie, thank you! I'm so pleased that passage resonated with you. I think that I think about it as listening to a whisper, or following a whisper, because, by doing so, it takes (for me at least) my own ego out of the equation.

In other words, when I am "quiet," and when I listen to a very internal or interior place, then I get at a deeper emotional truth. What is this event, or that moment, really trying to tell me about my life?

And that is, ultimately, how we reach that creative place and make sense of it all.

The same, of course, is very true regardless of what kind of writing you're doing: writing a memoir, journaling, writing a poem, blogging! Anything. What is the material trying to tell me, I wonder.

I'm curious about the other writers out there, what your process is?
_________________________
author, "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir"
www.suewilliamsilverman.com

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#187731 - 08/05/09 01:40 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Sue W. Silverman]
Wisdom&Life Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/04
Posts: 724
Loc: Chesapeake, VA
Wow Meredith, I remember the great advise you gave me when I talked about Greece.

This is something I had planned on doing anyway.
It would be ashame now more than ever if Zoey was to miss out on this part of her heritage.
She should know how brave her great-great grandmother was.

Bravery and hope was the message I had wanted to get across.

I wanted to make my grandmother's legacy stay alive for more generations to come.
Those who are not yet born will need to know this and understand where they came from.

The information is on paper, I had to do that for the "just in case" opportunity.

Cheers,
Cathi
_________________________
Proud member of National Association Of Baby Boomer Women!
www.nabbw.com

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#187732 - 08/05/09 01:54 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Wisdom&Life]
Sue W. Silverman Offline


Registered: 05/15/09
Posts: 33
Cathi, yes, bravery and hope! That's so important, yes, for all the younger generations to know their heritage. It's always so sad when these stories are lost. That's why it's important that all of us, who are writers, be the keepers of truth. The publishing part is really secondary, don't you think? Most important is to get the stories down on paper.
_________________________
author, "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir"
www.suewilliamsilverman.com

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#187733 - 08/05/09 02:15 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Sue W. Silverman]
Wisdom&Life Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/04
Posts: 724
Loc: Chesapeake, VA
Sue,

I am really amazed with your book. I am on Chapter 4 "Plotting your Life".

I had an epiphany when I read, about the "dark and stormy night" scenario.

It is about an incident my daughter went through a year ago, and what we had to endure. I learned so many lessons during this time, lessons I needed to learn long ago. I had reached rock bottom, I had no choice but to stop and get a grip. When I did, the saying "take things one day at a time" were no longer just words. I finally had to act on it and truly take things one day at a time. It was a very unexpected turning point in my life. In fact, if you were to ever read some of my posts when I began posting here about 5 years ago and what I post now. You would see a change in my beliefs. I had to let go of so much baggage and it feels good.

This is what I pondered reading the 4th Chapter.

I have stickys all over the book for references.

Thanks again Sue, not only for being here, but for making me feel like I have known you for a long time.

Love and Cheers,
Cathi
_________________________
Proud member of National Association Of Baby Boomer Women!
www.nabbw.com

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#187734 - 08/05/09 02:34 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Wisdom&Life]
Wisdom&Life Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/04
Posts: 724
Loc: Chesapeake, VA
I must've posted the same time you did Sue. I agree, wholeheartedly.

Something else I discovered with writing, I feel like my prayers are more genuine and real when I am writing them out. Like, writing a letter to God. This has been a recent discovery. I was always so confused about praying correctly, until I just reached a conclusion that prayer/meditation is a conversation with God or whichever Supreme Being one believes in. Writing my prayers, has allowed me to feel more spiritual by allowing me to release my negative energy.

Switching gears now to your book I wanted to ask you something and then make a comment.

I started thinking about the title, Fearless Confessions. What made you choose this title? It makes sense really, but I am interested in your perspective. (Unless you already mention this and I haven't read that far yet)

Now the comment I want to make. It seems like you this book in a style where people in all levels can understand and keep focus with what you are saying. This is what I am finding incredible.

In other words, both a beginner and a seasoned writer can take and learn so much from Fearless Confessions. I hope I am making sense here. It's been a very, very long day today...

Have a Great Night!

Cathi
_________________________
Proud member of National Association Of Baby Boomer Women!
www.nabbw.com

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#187737 - 08/05/09 02:51 AM Re: Welcome Sue Silverman: Memoir Writing Expert [Re: Wisdom&Life]
Wisdom&Life Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/04
Posts: 724
Loc: Chesapeake, VA
One more question and I definitely need to get myself to bed.

How does a person stay motivated with their writing when there are emergencies and crisis going on nonstop? The time can be found, but what about keeping up with the inspiration to see it through?

Thanks!

Good Night and Cheers!
Cathi
_________________________
Proud member of National Association Of Baby Boomer Women!
www.nabbw.com

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