Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Getting started with memoir

They needed a teacher. I said, "Yes." So for the next month, I'm reading and thinking about how to get started writing a memoir for an afternoon workshop.

Judith Barrington's Writing the Memoir makes a very interesting distinction between writing an autobiography or biography (organized around key events in your own or someone else's life) and writing a memoir (developed around selected events in your life to support a theme).

I've wanted to write a bit of family history ever since my son-in-law asked me who the lady was whose picture I have in my bedroom. 

My grandmother, Sigrid Elizabeth Torgny, born in Chicago in 1888. This is her high school graduation picture. Daughter of a doctor, she traveled out west and fell in love with a cowboy, right around the time of World War I.

So I could write a biography around my family history -- adding my autobiography. But if I slide to a theme . . . Aha! I will be writing a memoir.

Bibliography so far:

Barrington, Judith. Writing the Memoir, 2nd. ed. Portland, Oregon: The Eighth Mountain Press, 2002.

Borg, Mary. Writing Your Life, 4th ed. Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press, 2013.