- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: University of Georgia Press (June 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 082033166X
- ISBN-13: 978-0820331669
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir
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If you are writing a memoir, read Fearless Confessions. There are some things that can't be taught in a book, but Sue William Silverman teaches you everything that can be! The author of two stunning memoirs herself, she breaks down the complex weaving of a story into discrete elements, such as detail, voice, and plot, with clear, useful guidance on each aspect. Invaluable!(Ellen Bass author of The Human Line)
Fearless Confessions is such a dynamic guide to memoir writing it has inspired me to completely refine and retool the memoir I’m working on. Sue William Silverman, a faculty advisor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, is an amazing master of the language. Her prose is as enjoyable as it is instructive. This should be an essential textbook of any creative writing course. She gives examples of memoir pieces and analyzes each one, showing how they work, why they're powerful, and even why some fail to impress.(15 Minutes Magazine)
I dutifully recommend Lamott's Bird by Bird, Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and King's On Writing to my students each term, but I find that I'm particularly excited to inform them of Silverman's new book. Her writing has a tone that's both accessible to readers and uncompromising in its rigorous investigation of what makes for compelling memoir.(Writer Magazine)
Fearless Confessions is a must. I love the way Sue William Silverman exposes the process she used in creating her much acclaimed Love Sick―its struggles, exposures, and empowerment―to teach. A masterful nonfiction writer, Silverman uses her story to guide readers through their own process: how to grasp the use of the senses, mimetic detail, scene, and much more. Her discussion of the Voice of Innocence and the Voice of Experience is sure to become a classic. This book is truly indispensable.(Suzanne Paola coauthor of Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction)
Fearless Confessions demonstrates the range of Silverman's voice, which is conversational and engaging throughout, never lapsing into the dry instruction-manual voice that could have endangered this book . . . Fearless Confessions provides a guide not only to students, emerging writers, and faculty members who teach memoir writing but also to more established writers interested in exploring the genre. Writers will find lessons and examples that they can use, from the first words of their stories-Silverman's 'first bite'-and onward.(Prairie Schooner)
I've wanted a book like this for the courses I teach on memoir and am looking forward to putting it to good use. Silverman's Fearless Confessions is a valuable guide not only for students and teachers but also for those outside the academy who are interested in writing memoir but are uncertain of how to begin.(Janet Mason Ellerby author of Following the Tambourine Man: A Birthmother's Memoir)
Sue William Silverman has yet again written a book that needs to be written, in this case an indispensable guide to the writing of memoir, especially those we might deem 'confessional.' The confessional has long held a vaunted though sometimes controversial place in Western literature, and Silverman not only redeems the value of confession artistically but quite pragmatically gives the novice a means of giving voice to what was previously jumbled and ineffable.(Robin Hemley author of Do-Over!)
From the Inside Flap
Everyone has a story to tell. Fearless Confessions is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper--or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.
The rise of interest in memoir recognizes the power of the genre to move and affect not just individual readers but society at large. Sue William Silverman covers traditional writing topics such as metaphor, theme, plot, and voice and also includes chapters on trusting memory and cultivating the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces--from family members to the media--who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts and views remain silent.
Silverman, an award-winning memoirist, draws upon her own personal and professional experience to provide an essential resource for transforming life into words that matter. Fearless Confessions is an atlas that contains maps to the remarkable places in each person's life that have yet to be explored.
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In her preface, Silverman tells us that "Fearless Confessions is intended to help ensure that our voices are heard." Her direct, honest voice tells the reader she wrote this because she "struggled through numerous false starts and made many mistakes" before she learned how to turn her raw experience into an artful story. Through clear instruction, exercises, readings and heartfelt encouragement, she has made certain the success of her mission.
Highlighted statements reinforce each chapter's main ideas. For example, in "Plotting Your Life," Silverman introduces the reader to the horizontal plot (what happens to the writer) and the vertical plot (how the writer feels about it). "It's only through writing about events after they happen...that we come to understand what they mean," she says. "All our lives have plots. We find them through writing."
In her chapter on voice, she contrasts the Voice of Innocence and the Voice of Experience, and ends with an essay by Candace L. Greene portraying the voices of three women--her own, her mother's and her grandmother's, describing each moment in the Voice of Innocence, and ending with the Voice of Experience as the writer realizes a truth about their lives. In the chapter on metaphors, Silverman says "Don't expect to know your metaphors before you begin to write. This is what you'll discover as you write."
She addresses the critics who belittle memoir, especially by women, by labeling it "confessional." Many of us have been marginalized, Silverman writes, regardless of gender. "Confessing" our stories exposes the commonality among us. It serves to expand the range of what it means to be human. In "Confessional and (Finally) Proud of It," Silverman tells about her family's reaction to her memoirs about sexual abuse and addiction, and includes quotes from other writers about their experience with family criticism. In the end, she says, "our job is still to tell our stories..." and to "bear witness to honest human experiences and emotions."
The book has three Appendices: an overview of the subgenres of creative nonfiction, three confessional essays on the writing process written especially for readers of this book, and four full-length essays the reader can use to study the craft elements discussed. Finally, Silverman gifts us with an extensive reading list.
Fearless Confessions is a trustworthy, encouraging companion for everyone who chooses to take the first step toward writing about life. I'm sure I'll refer to it again and again, for ideas and courage as I walk the memoir writer's path.
by Linda Wisniewski
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
"I heard Sue's voice in my ear as I read this book, and now that I am sitting down in front of my computer, gearing up to write, she is there is the background reminding me to use effective verbs, to fearlessly dig for meaning and to choose metaphors that will add layers to my work. Thanks Sue for this book, a gift to the fearful writer."
there was nothing 'wrong' in the instrruction per se, but too wordy around points sometimes to make the 'instruction' clear..... Memoir is memory replay --- the plot is not a 'made up' thing, it was a living thing and should be treated as such for the student -- a memoir is individual --- which should include (except for 'english basics') reflect the individual character writing it --- there is no formula I have ever heard of for who, what, and how a living individual is, has developed to be, etc. --- and no to authority on the personality and thoughts and actions of the person writing their memoir (memories) We overdo things all too often in many lines of living, including writing things down about our individual selves ----and revealing our selves as individual....pmmcneely -- poet/writer