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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I expected.
When I found this book, I was in search of the perfect genre for two stories swirling through my head. The stories that I wanted to write did not seem to fit any particular genre until I read this book on memoir and personal essay. Like many people, I believed that memoirs where restricted to the lives of the famous. This book opened up a whole new world to me by...
Published on December 16, 2009 by S. Andrews

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Writing Life Stories
I haven't had time to read it all yet. I like comparing these kinds of books. Still working on it
Published 7 months ago by Judy Krall


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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I expected., December 16, 2009
By 
S. Andrews (Richardson, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
When I found this book, I was in search of the perfect genre for two stories swirling through my head. The stories that I wanted to write did not seem to fit any particular genre until I read this book on memoir and personal essay. Like many people, I believed that memoirs where restricted to the lives of the famous. This book opened up a whole new world to me by defining memoir and showing how it is developed.

At times the author seemed unorganized and the book lacked the structure I normally preferred in an instructional book. As I continued to read, I discovered that he was in control and teaching me the skills needed for this unique style of writing.
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Jump-start to Writing, November 3, 2009
This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
I'm reviewing this book even though I'm only a third of the way through it. First, this book isn't one to just read through. Bill has included writing exercises in each chapter that are designed to allow you "access to memory, access to material, access to ideas, access to the unconscious, and finally, access to meaning" in your writing (Roorbach, p. 7).

I'm trying to do the exercises in order, but I'm not being too strict with myself about adhering to a schedule. I've found one exercise (chapter 4, "On...") that I like so much that I've done it three times, and I think it really is prodding me to examine some personal thoughts through writing. I have no doubt that this book is helping me to get at the core issues that I really want to write about.

Bill's writing voice makes for easy, enjoyable reading, and sometimes I find it a bit hard to stop reading and do the exercises. But, I do think they're worthwhile. There are 11 chapters: 1 Getting Started; 2 Memory; 3 Scenemaking; 4 Big Ideas; 5 Characters and Character; 6 Stage Presence; 7 Finding the Facts; 8 Metaphor and Meaning; 9 Saying it Right; 10 Building a Building; and 11 Getting Published.

This book has earned a permanent slot on my bookshelf and I think it's going to be one of those books that get revisited on a regular basis.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow Writing Life Stories, December 5, 2009
By 
Logan Fisher (Queensbury, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
This is the book that I have been searching for for a long time. As a busy mom of three, I needed a "teaching book" that would give me concrete activities that I could work into my writing time. Reading this book and working on the subsequent "assignments" gives purpose to my very short writing time that I can squeeze into a day. If you are interested in writing memoir, but don't know where or how to start...this is the book for you.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, July 17, 2009
This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature
Excellent guide for anyone writing memoirs. I used it as the textbook for a writing circle I run. Although the group doesn't focus on memoirs, the exercises are very good for anyone wishing to work with creative non-fiction.

The participants enjoyed the writing exercises, such as re-creating the first neighborhood they remembered living in as a map. An unexpected effect of memory-searching was that for several of us, old buried memories surfaced spontaneously in dreams.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That little nudge to get you going, April 11, 2012
This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
A few years back my best friend Eric died after a long battle with cancer. Months later a story started forming in my head about our time together in 1981. As the months went by the story got stronger and clearer in detail, so much so that I started to jot down notes, covering the walls of the spare bedroom with butcher's paper to build a timeline. Gracefully I declined invitations to social engagements: all was this story. His story.
Still I was stumped. How can someone like me go about getting my memories down on paper? I am not a writer in any sense of the word except for letters to my mum and e-mails to friends. Where does a non-writer turn for guidance when they have a story to tell?
You need look no further than Bill Roorbach's Writing Life Stories, now available in this revised 10th anniversary edition. As he promises, Roorbach does indeed show us 'how to make memories into memoirs, ideas into essays, and life into literature'. He does it through exercises that build on each other, and soon we find what we are looking for - which is, in his own words:

"Access to memory, access to material, access to ideas, access to unconscious, and, finally access to meaning... Welcome, welcome, you and your stories are in the right place."

In Chapter 2, Roorbach's Memory Exercise 1 asks us to draw a map of the earliest neighbourhood we can remember living in. We are instructed to include as much detail as we can. Who lived where? Where were the secret places? Where were our friends? Where did the weird neighbours live? Where were the off-limit places? Where did we get into trouble?
I found myself drawing Matua Peninsula with the Matua Primary School in great detail. The prefab classroom that Standard 2 was taught in. The very same prefab where, in 1967, Carron Carnahan gave me my first kiss at the age of seven while Anita Brown and Sheryl Nuku looked on in disgust, half-laughing.
"Ooh, Carron kissed Billy Bacon. Yuk!"
The kiss stopped me in my tracks.
"What's that about?" I was puzzled.
Her spell cast, Carron smiled. "Now it's your turn to start chasing me."
And I did, for all I was worth.
Get hold of this book especially if you don't know where or how to start this writing business. Reading Roorbach is like having an old friend over for a chat.
Other gems are the quotes scattered throughout the chapters. One especially made me laugh. "If you can't explain your theory to a bartender, it's probably no good." (Ernest Rutherford.) Obviously Roorbach could: and I am still reading Writing Life Stories and taking notes.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Writing Life Stories, September 16, 2008
By 
EnglishTeacher87 (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
This product is great as part of a writing course or for tips for beginning memoir writers or for writers struggling with creative nonfiction.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writer to writer, May 8, 2011
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This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
Very well written, I read it twice.
If you're a writer it will remind you of those little things you forgot to give your writing punch.
But of all the creative writing books I have ever read this one had two outstanding pluses.
It fills in the gaps about how to write dialogue.
The author is accessible through email.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life story, December 22, 2012
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This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
bought this book to help me jump start writing my childhood memories. the essays are easy to follow and understand. if you're looking for something basic this is it. if you're looking for something super profound then look somewhere else. overall it's a great book and I have enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing Life Stories, January 30, 2014
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This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
Bill Roorbach came in our class and had us submit some writing to his blog. This book has some really cool exercises. My favorite, so far, (I haven't finished going through and doing all of them!) is the memory mapping. Doing that exercise lead to some amazing recollections, not to mention dreams of past life events melded into the now. Enjoy using this book for what ever class or writing mission one may have to accomplish.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Writing Book, January 3, 2013
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This review is from: Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature (Paperback)
I've read a lot of books about how to write, but maybe I'm a slow student or maybe I wasn't ready for the advice in the others. This one is the book I've needed for ages. Perhaps I'll finally write a successful personal narrative/memoir--I will at least have all the tools I need.
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Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature
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