Telling Your Story
online course in memoir-writing
starts April 7







Who will play you in the movie of your life?

Question: What do the authors of the books pictured at right all have in common? (I mean, besides having written highly publicized books.)
     Answer: None of them were famous before they wrote these books. Like you, they were regular people who at one time wondered, "Would other people be interested in reading my story?"
   That's the #1 question I hear from prospective students and clients. My usual answer: "It depends on how you tell it."
   Most of us are curious to know what it feels like to be someone else. As C. S. Lewis (author of the wonderful memoir Surprised by Joy) once put it, "We read to know that we are not alone."A really good memoir invites the reader into the author's inner life. One of the great pleasures of reading one is to discover something that you, too, have felt, but have never managed to put into words. If you are keenly interested in your own experience, you're off to a good start as a memoirist. If you are also prepared to to explore and honor and tell the whole truth about it, you've got the makings of a successful book.

You don't have to be old to write a memoir

Memoirs can be written at any age. Unlike autobiographies, they don't attempt to recount an entire life story. Instead, they focus on a particular time period or event or experience or theme.  A memoir can be:

  • a tale of triumph over adversity like The Pursuit of Happyness
  • an account of an inner and outer journey, like Eat, Pray Love.
  • the story of single relationship that changed your life, like Tuesdays with Morrie
  • a story about family heritage, like Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father
  • a joyful reliving of an exciting or formative period in your life, like A Year in Provence
  • a meditation on your life's greatest lessons, like Sidney Poitier's The Measure of a Man
  • an inside glimpse of what it's like to work in a certain profession, like Intern or The Nanny Diaries
  • a portrait of a subculture in which you grew up, like Jesus Land or Lipstick Jihad
  • an account of something quirky you did like Honeymoon with My Brother or My Life as a Man

Back to the future

One good reason to write about your past is that doing so will probably change your future. The author of How Starbucks Saved My Life believed that the happy ending of his own story was finding contentment as a barrista after losing his former career as powerful advertising executive. Writing the book resulted in an even happier epilogue: Tom Hanks has purchased the movie rights and wants to play him.
    Fame and fortune are chickens that might never hatch for the average memoir writer, but the very act of writing changes the memoirist's life in more subtle ways. Writing about an illness or a traumatic experience often helps to heal it. If you are going through a period of mid-life bewilderment, writing about the past is a great way of getting your bearings. Articulating what your life has meant so far helps you to get a handle on what you want it to mean in the future. It's kind of like having a near-death experience without having to nearly die.

  The Pursuit of Happyness
Eat Pray Love





The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio Running with Scissors
Tuesdays with Morrie Honeymoon with my Brother

In every human life there is something that deserves to remembered long after that life is over. What is that something in your life? Let me help you discover it.

Here are three ways to make it happen:

  • take a course
  • hire a coach
  • hire a ghostwriter.

Learn more.

Jesus Land How Starbucks Save My Life
This Boy's Life

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© Copyright 2008 Catherine MacCoun