Notes from the workshop given by Diana Cranstoun at When Words Collide, Calgary, August 11th, 2017.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BIOGRAPHY AND A MEMOIR?
Biography/Autobiography: the story OF someone’s life. (Beginning to end, chronological order.)
Memoir: a story FROM someone’s life. (Eg Wartime Memoir)
WHO ARE YOU WRITING THIS STORY ABOUT?
If it is about another person, where are you going to get your research from?
WHO ARE YOU WRITING THIS STORY FOR?
For general publication?
Your answer will affect what you put in your memoir and how you present it.
WHY ARE YOU WRITING THIS STORY?
You have a story to tell that only YOU can tell.
- We all have unique experiences in our lives. If you don’t tell your story, who will?
- You may have a secret to share.
- Big Secret – you may have participated in some major event that you have not been able to tell people about.
- Little Secret – something small, but unique experience that people don’t know about you.
- Family Secret: Illegitimacy, secret marriage. Eg Who Do You Think You Are.
Understand the past:
- Writing a memoir can be a gift to yourself – allows you to look back on your life – as well as to future generations.
- As your past takes shape you may gain a clearer vision of who you are.
Heal from A Traumatic Experience:
- Allows you to connect with people who may have experienced something similar and offer them encouragement, comfort, inspiration and the assurance that they – and you – are not alone.
Preserve a Family Legacy
- If you are interested about your parents’, grandparents’ or family members’ lives, sometime in the future, someone may be interested in YOU.
WHY NOT TO WRITE A MEMOIR:
- Don’t write one for revenge. You don’t want anything out there that is going to harm yourself or someone else.
IS YOUR STORY A NOVEL OR A MEMOIR?
Please check out this website for interesting insight.
10 ways to tell if a story should be a memoir or a novel by Adair Lara.
HOW TO ‘CREATE’ YOUR MEMOIR
Not everyone is comfortable putting pen to paper – or fingertips to keyboard – to write a book, but there are many ways to tell your story.
- Collect letters, scan, print them and put them in a binder. (Vera and John)
- Journals/Diaries (Grandmother Memory Book)
- Photo Albums/Scrapbooks
- Recipe Books
- Videos/Home movies
- Desert Island Discs (Format BBC Radio 4)
- Travel, baby, divorce, wedding, moving house.
- Tapestry. (The Girl on The Wall)