Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life Paperback – June 9, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Everybody has a story to tell. Some people dream of putting their stories in a book while others want to blog, write letters or record family history. Smith, who is also a workshop teacher, gives the honest nuts and bolts of memoir writing. She does not use standard and stale exercises or prompts to fill the pages of this slim volume, but rather a blend of anecdotes and unusual tips to help would-be writers "vomit up a draft." What makes this guide stand out from the rest is its complete lack of academic posturing. Smith does not constantly drop famous names or drone on about Paris. Instead, the author uses real, plainspoken examples from her life and writing, such as the memorable story of her mother's struggle with Alzheimer's. Seasoned writers should proceed with caution: Anyone who has taken Composition 101 will have heard much of this advice before, such as "write what you know" and "show, don't tell." But readers looking for a push in the right direction will find Smith's instructions highly accessible and inspiring. Her first-person narrative style is breezy and friendly, and the beginning lays out the three overarching rules for memoir writing. Chapters have catchy subtitles, with easy-to-understand examples, from how to choose a subject to style to editing. Other advice includes a list of go-to reference materials and how to navigate writing about sex.
Spare but practical resource for beginners--a good reference for library programs or community workshops.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I always thought a memoir would be about me...me...me. Mrs. Smith advises the writer to ask the following question, "What is this about?" The writer must decide on a theme for the story and then use personal experiences to illustrate the theme. The theme might be "revenge", "betrayal" or "mercy" and certain personal experiences would illustrate that theme. By the way, Mrs. Smith advices that only one of these words should ever apply to the story's intent, and that's "mercy".
In a memoir, there are three basic guidelines;
(1.) Writing memoir is about telling the truth.
(2.) Every page must drive one single story forward.
(3.) Just because something happens, doesn't make it interesting.
This book was a real pleasure to read because it offers very practical information in a light-hearted and humorous manner. The book is for people who are tired of doing writing exercises, taking classes and reading books about writing. This book provides solid tactics for writers who are ready to WRITE. Mrs. Smith suggests that a writer should write five pages a day...five days a week. The job of writing a memoir is real WORK and should not be taken lightly. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is ready to "write on".
I found much to like as there is much solid, practical information about getting going and staying with it that other books in this category lack. I applaud the author for taking on writing practice and prompts as a waste of time and energy. Instead she promotes the idea of "writing with intent," and tells you why and how to do it. She also expresses dismay over the over-wrought and downright false memoirs out there. It's nice to have company here.
Although Marion Smith encourages her audience to write honestly and clearly, toward the end I found myself scratching my head over sentences that seemed overly complicated. Others just dead-ended, not moving the story forward (as she advises over and over). And then there was the story I didn't quite get, even though being a member of the menopausal set. The significance of "38DD" shouted out of the car window in response to elite athletes putting their accumulated mileage on oval car stickers. This appears in the segment named "Menopause Made Me Do It!"
I get the feeling this book was put out quickly by its publishing house. This book would really shine if it went through another revision. Pulling out and highlighting the salient points would be a great help. While it shares some attributes of "Elements of Styles," the information is not delivered the same way. "The Memoir Project" would benefit from an index or chapter recaps together with a more generous layout, which would eliminate the tight chapter sequences.
Another copy edit and new layout would bolster this mostly fine and much needed effort. In my opinion, it could catapult this book from okay to classic, much like Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird." I'd buy an updated version in hardback if it became available.
In sum, a pleasant enough little essay, but not much more than that.
I've loaned this book to aspiring memoir writers and to friends with no inclination in that direction at all. All have thanked me enthusiastically. It is good and inspiring reading from a generous author who is committed to writing, teaching and living with purpose, humor and integrity. Whatever your intention, something fine will rub off on you. I promise.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love her attitude about writing - just do it! There are many ways to learn to write but it's important to be careful about not doing too many exercises and just do it! Read morePublished 1 month ago by C. J. Humphrey
This is not an easy book to digest that gives easy hints for writing a memoir,but rather one that discusses the importance of editing. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Peggy Best
For a short book, this really packed a lot of helpful advice. Some have complained that there isn't enough information but I think they are seeking a different kind of book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A small book but packed with useful memoir writing information.Published 3 months ago by Gladys Anderson
Great, practical advice for writing memoir. It reads like it's geared more toward short form with tips for long form.Published 3 months ago by Kayce Stevens Hughlett
This book is a short and helpful guide to writing a memoir.
Full of anecdotes, examples, and advice this book offers specific insight on how to get started on a memoir... Read more
Wonderful method to breakdown life experiences in small segments. Shows how to actually write a memoirPublished 4 months ago by Dorothy Brown
Masterfully written instructional tool on how to write a memoir. First clarifying what a memoir is NOT, Smith captivates you by artistically weaving in her own story, which is a... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michelle Hanson Haye