Memoirs bring light into the world. The Gift of Memoir offers inspiration and concrete assistance in writing the story of your life, or a slice of it. From over fifteen years of teaching memoir writing, as well as recording oral histories, I have witnessed that everyone has valuable stories to write down, and preserve in a form bound to last … and even outlast the writer.
From feedback I have received, I am happy to say The Gift of Memoir has become the sort of book people underline and refer to again and again. When appropriate, I have used examples from my own life to illustrate a particular point – an actual dialogue after shipwreck, for example, to show how dialogue can be incorporated into memoir. The hardest chapter to write was the one on how to deal with traumatic events, an essential part of any memoir. My son’s life was short. My years learning how to live with absence were long, but useful in that I can pass on to others a path that led to light.
I read many memoirs in preparation for this book! They are listed in the extensive bibliography. Enlightening reading, every one.
Those who write memoirs are offering an invaluable gift to family and/or the world. Those who read them are enlightened by another’s experiences. This book is my gift to those who are looking for guidance writing their stories. It’s my hope it will help them leave legacies for children and grandchildren and even generations as yet unborn.
Personal stories enable readers to enter another’s world. This increases understanding and empathy, which helps topple barricades of racism, zenophobia and all the other phobias. Memoirs can give a sense of belonging, of history, of shelter. To write about your life is to immerse yourself in love. Love for life—even the losses, love for language and love for the literary form that makes sense of it all. And because love is healing, memoirs can be healing.
Story by story, memoirs change people, change the world.
The short chapters, full of practical advice and inspiring examples, cover such topics as:
- The all-importance of reading to writing
Establishing a writing ritual
Why write memoir? Over forty reasons
How to approach traumatic events
Telling the truth when you aren’t sure
Journaling as a kind of personal writing workshop
Four strategies to retrieve memories
The ingredients of a good anecdote, and recognizing themes
How to write through the five senses ( and the sixth)
How to choose a form that fits your writing
The revision process
Go forth and bring light into the world!
“Every writer can benefit from reading Diane Taylor’s wonderfully clear, down-to-earth, practical, and inspiring book. But for the memoirist, in particular, Taylor’s expertise is invaluable.”
–PHILIP MARCHAND, National Post books columnist and author of Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America
“The Gift of Memoir will lift you from desire, doubt, and inclination to exploration, discovery, and triumph. A bountiful gift for the hearts and minds of aspiring memoirists.”
–DAVID H. HUGHES, author and ghostwriter of thirteen books
“An accessible, engaging read, abounding in useful tips and best practices for memoir (and other) writers.”
–CYNTHIA REYES, author of A Good Home: A Memoir and award-winning journalist and broadcaster
“What’s that saying? ‘Plant a tree, raise a child, write a book.’ Anyone contemplating that last task would do well to start with this fine book by Diane Taylor.”
–LAWRENCE SCANLAN, author of twenty books, including A Year of Living Generously and Wild About Horses