Dani Shapiro: the making of a memoir

July 27, 2009

If you read this blog regularly, you know I don’t often simply link to an article or blog post. I believe in creating new content. (Or, in the case of Writers’ Roundup, giving you many links to choose from.)

But this Los Angeles Times piece by Dani Shapiro about the making of a memoir was so good I couldn’t resist. Not only is it beautifully written, prompting me to add her book, Slow Motion, to my ever-growing must-read list, Shapiro also offers insight into the art of writing memoir.

A snippet from her column:

I began to sift through my memory to find the shape of the story. This remembering was a delicate alchemy: part archaeology, part forensics and — perhaps the most important part — a powerful creative urge to take that time in my life, those ashes, that sadness and self-destruction, and turn it into something larger and universal. To find the narrative in the tragedy. To make art out of loss.

But what was this art? I discovered that memoir is not a document of fact. It isn’t a linear narrative of what happened so much as a document of the moment in which it is written.

Read the entire article. It’s worth it.

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    6 Replies to “Dani Shapiro: the making of a memoir”

    • She sounds like a talented writer. Thanks for sharing the link.

      Elizabeth
      Mystery Writing is Murder

    • theoldsilly says:

      Good article indeed. Especially of interest to me having written a memoir. Some of the stuff I sort of luckilly knew intuitively. Beginner’s luck? Good you’re doing your homework, Alexis.

      The Old Silly

    • Its difficult to find a really good memoir book. This one looks good. I love the word alchemy, taking something of little value and discovering methods for transmuting these events into something so large that it helps other people who are struggling with similar challenges.

      Stephen Tremp

    • Thanks for this link, Alexis. There are several memoir writers in Northern Colorado Writers who will want to read this — I’ll pass it on.

    • Shirley says:

      I tweeted the sentence I liked best: “Events turn into memories even as they are happening, and memories become the stories we tell.” Thanks for sharing, Alexis. I have been doing a number of these posts also–finding relevant links that fit my theme and then adding a little twist of my own reflections. Readers seem to like them. But I also see the need to create new content in a blog. You have a great mix.

    • Dana Brown says:

      Here I am finishing at the beginning of your posts on memoir. Your blog is wonderful and has given me a lot of information and links I will definitely use. Thank you so much and I look forward to visiting here regularly!

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