I guess the first thing I should do is tell a little about my own writing experiences. I'm in no way an expert on how to write or get published or become a best-selling author. In fact, I'm just a regular fifty-something woman who has had an incredible amount of luck. Being stubborn and full of perseverance also might play a part in what little success I've found.
I've never entertained the thought that I would be some best-selling author, slugging down beers with Stephen King or trading writing secrets with Tess Gerritsen or even having mega-sellouts at all my book-signings (which I cringe at having to do, but is a necessary evil). I'm just an ordinary woman who can manage to string a bunch of words together and have them make sense and that readers seem to relate to.
After years of struggling along trying to find my place in the writing world, I was fortunate enough to land my first gig with Maine.info, a travel website that asked me to write a series of articles about places to visit in Maine that might appeal to tourists. Although the website seems to have gone under, I still get dozens of emails from travelers who want to explore Maine. That gig and the by-line helped me land a job as a columnist for the now defunct SVWeekly, a local newspaper that was read by thousands in my area. When the newspaper shut down, I was shocked to discover how many people had actually read my column and were disappointed that they weren't going to be able read it any longer. That inspired me to write my second book, Mom's Eye View, which was a compilation of those articles.
My recent book, I Heard You, is a series of short stories and poetry revolving around one defining moment in a person's life. The stories focus on just that one moment and it's left to the reader to imagine the why's, what's and how did that happen?
With the release of this book, I've been approached by readers confiding in me that they've always wanted to write a book, but have no idea how to. So, what I'm going to try to do in this series of articles is put together a sort of guideline that I hope will be helpful to anyone wanting to write their own memory stories.
The First Step to writing a memory story - Focus on what you want to say.
When I first started entertaining the thought of writing my memories to earn money and not just a way to release creative energies, I was disappointed when I started receiving rejection letter after rejection letter.
Reality slapped me in the face. What was I doing wrong? But I refused to give up, I knew I could write, I just had to learn to do it better; to focus more on what I was trying to say. Focus is the key. Narrow your memories down to one and focus on that one only. Make that one memory come alive, let your mind think of just one event in your life; who you were talking to, what was being said, how that interaction affected you; express more fully the feelings you were having at that time. Reach out and make that memory the one to share.
Finding that memory is the hard part, there is so much we want to say and many times it comes out in a big jumble, with too many thoughts competing for the reader’s attention. This is when we lose them. As a writer you need to engage your reader, to bring them into your world, have them see what you see. If you ramble on about too many things at one time, the reader may lose interest and toss your book aside.
The first thing you need to do is find a starting point. Hopefully, this guide will help you find a starting point for your memory-stories, how to keep the writing tight and how to stay focused and help you find your writing voice.
The intent of these articles isn't to get you published, if that's your goal, that's not something I can do for you; only your dedication, imagination, perseverance and writing skills will do that. My intent is to simply help you find your motivation and instill confidence.
I welcome all comments and suggestions...because I've surely forgotten some key points.
To read my own memory stories...click the Books tab.