- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (August 5, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312382928
- ISBN-13: 978-0312382926
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
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
Memoirist and writing teacher Norton’s slim but substantive how-to guide begins with an anti-definition of memoir: it’s not autobiography, not journalism, and not essay, although it should use, she suggests, the techniques of all three. Norton ends with some plain and incisive advice: the payoff of writing memoir comes not in publication but in uncovering personal truths and in facing the chaos and transformation of creation. The heart of the book deals with the concept of shimmering images, those that continually rise up in the storyteller’s memory like photographs. The image of your mother standing on the beach in her polka-dot swimsuit, for example, or of your brother blowing bubbles on the lawn. Norton believes that such moments remain in one’s memory for a reason; they are the keys to unlocking meaning and story and are, therefore, memoir’s building blocks. Accessible, funny, and honest, Norton acknowledges the hard work involved in shaping life stories, offers practical and inspirational advice, and celebrates memoir writing as nothing short of essential to the care of the writer’s soul. --Heather Dewar
“In Shimmering Images Lisa Dale Norton traces a clear stimulating path to writing a memoir. Norton starts with the ideas behind the process, how story transforms experience on the page. She then gives the step-by-step process that she has been teaching for decades―finding Shimmering Images (memory pictures) and weaving them into a whole. In the third part Norton looks at some of the tools to craft the process. In writing bighearted, compassionate stories, we contribute to changing the world. Norton’s book is bighearted and compassionate. It is a gift to the reader.” ―Susan Tiberghien, author of One Year to a Writing Life
“This book shimmers with thought-provoking insights and truth, and Lisa Dale Norton's elegantly spare formula is a valuable addition to the literature on the topic. Even though she specifically addresses only the memoir form, her system of memory retrieval and organization will be useful to any life writer.” ―Sharon Lippincott, author of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing
“You can read this book in an hour -- but the impact could well last a lifetime. It’s simple, smart and inspiring.” ―Jennie Nash, author of The Last Beach Bungalow
“Lisa Dale Norton's practical and lively guide to writing memoir is like having your very own writing coach holding your hand and guiding you through your story with patience and humor. Her clear, good advice covers everything you'll need to start writing: the difference between memoir and autobiography, claiming your own voice, finding the heart of your story, and finally crafting it into a piece of work to send out into the world.” ―Barbara Abercrombie, author of Courage and Craft and Writing out the Storm
“Shimmering Images is an encouraging, smart, and surprisingly funny guide, full of well-tested exercises and approaches. Lisa Dale Norton teaches memoir writers how to get beyond blame and self-pity, how to find the compassion that leads to new insights, how to be “bone honest” with themselves. She is a very wise coach who understands that the writing process is the way to truth, that truth is complex and deep. This “handy little guide” will transform the lives of those who need to understand their pasts in order to change their futures―that is to say, all of us. Trust me, she says: and we do, we do.” ―Meg Files, author of Meridian 144, Home Is the Hunter, and Write from Life, Director, Pima Writers' Workshop
“Shimmering Images" is how Lisa Norton describes those flashes of memory that haunt us on the brightest of days or in the darkest of tunnels when least expected. Indeed they are, fleeting moments in time we can not forget because we responded emotionally and our lives were forever changed. Moved to great heights of joy, we want to share our feelings with the world. Scarred by fear, anger or loss we want to dig deeper and recapture and share the hope and love that healed. Memoirists feel compelled to take this journey, and in her book Lisa Norton provides a map to show us where to begin, which way to turn, and most important, how to dig up and unlock the truths that were always there, waiting to be told. Anyone who has ever wanted to write memoir needs this precious little handbook to find out where and how to start, and better still, how to keep going in the right direction.” ―Penny Porter, author of Heartstrings and Tail-Tuggers, and Adobe Secrets, Past-President and Membership Chair, Society of Southwestern Authors
“Never has there been a more compassionate gift to those who write. Shimmering Images is a clear-eyed, authentic vision of the art of storytelling. Norton gathers the inspirational winds in her sails, and gently propels the writer toward a place of knowing--that place where one can, at last, trust in the creative self. Awesome. Simply awesome.” ―Doris Booth, Editor-in-Chief, Authorlink.com
“Honest, taut, funny, useful, stimulating, graceful, and all those other lovely words, but best of all this book will make you sit your skinny butt in the chair and actually start typing, which is the point. A terrific book of operating instructions for giving birth to stories.” ―Brian Doyle, editor, Portland Magazine
“Shimmering Images has what it takes to be an outstanding how-to book for aspiring writers. It is sound, fertile, imaginative; it guides the aspiring writer around the pitfalls and into the delights of turning memories into memoir. It inspires and grounds the writer with a combination of practical, easy-to-follow steps, a rationale for engaging in this challenging process in the first place and ways to sustain the effort for the long haul. I would recommend this book to teachers as well as to adults who are working on this genre individually.” ―Muriel Dance, Ph.D., Director, Center for Continuing Education; Antioch University Seattle
“SHIMMERING IMAGES is a practical, simple, and wonderfully concise guide for memoirists seeking to improve their craft as well as those who are just getting started.” ―Debra Ginsberg, author of Waiting, Raising Blaze, About My Sisters, and Blind Submission
“In Shimmering Images, Lisa Dale Norton gently takes you by the hand and leads you through the process of getting down the story of your life. You learn how to access your “shimmering images” -- the people, places, and events that are the source of your most powerful stories. You discover how to connect these images to the key turning points in your personal journey, and weave them into the rich tapestry that is your life. Practical and inspiring, Shimmering Images is a must have for anyone contemplating writing a memoir.” ―Carol Franco, co-author of The Legacy Guide: Capturing the Facts, Memories, and Meaning of Your Life
“Like a smart friend in whom you can confide, Lisa Dale Norton leads you not only through the issues of craft you'll need in order to form your life stories into art, but--perhaps more importantly--through the emotional landscape such work requires. A thoughtful, helpful tool for anyone facing the challenge of memoir.” ―Samantha Dunn, author of Faith in Carlos Gomez
“Shimmering Images is the quintessential book on memoir writing and should be required reading for anyone who is thinking about crafting a memoir.” ―Jennifer McCord, past president of Pacific Northwest Writers Association
“Shimmering Images is every memoir writer's ideal guide. With eloquent Simplicity borne of decades of teaching writing, Lisa Dale Norton has given us a map and a method that soars above all others.” ―Elizabeth Lyon, author of Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write and A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction
“Lisa Dale Norton’s little book is a big-hearted treasure. She gives writers specific guidance, her voice one of passionate encouragement. Norton’s message is that when getting going on a memoir, process means more than product―only through a disciplined and creative process can a writer experience the hard-won satisfaction that leads to a book. This spirited guide will be a deskside companion to memoirists old and new for years to come.” ―Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into several well-defined sections. The first is a discussion on writing memoir in general: what it is--"narrative nonfiction"...telling or narrating a story about something that actually happened. Norton moves on to the idea that as a memoirist, you must be sure to "claim your own truth, to accept responsibility for your actions, and to make sense of the actions of others in the context of a story." She explains the importance of looking at our stories in a larger context, with some balance and with new insights that have revealed themselves since the events occurred. The reader/writer recognizes the need for a broader view of her subject matter: to see a particular recollection through the eyes of others involved and perhaps from the vantage point of greater wisdom and a better sense of the time in which the event took place.
Following sections relate to Norton's actual process of writing memoir. This includes focussing on the stories themselves and how to bring them out in a deeper way. She begins with the "shimmering image, one of those memory pictures you've had for years.....a memory that rises in your consciousness like a photograph." Norton urges the reader to take note of these as they are the source of stories waiting to be told.
Finding satisfying ways to tell these stories is dealt with though exercises in subsequent chapters. One such exercise, The Mountaintop, helps with story structure and is "a way to find a beginning from the imaginary view of a mountaintop." It helps us define significant, even life-changing moments in our lives. Norton advises the reader to list these events for use in her next exercise, the Memory Map. Here we select one of our Mountaintop images and proceed to map it out, drawing detail of the physical reality of the event so that it takes on dimension and a life. As we create the map, other images--"shimmering images"--may come to mind and they in turn may be instrumental in bringing our stories out. Additional elements in Norton's overall process include collecting and sorting through personal mementoes or "stuff" such as diaries, calendars and newspaper clippings, all of which stimulate our ability to recapture images and to find meaning in them. Another part of the process is to recognize the need to research around the event: what was going on at the time, politically, culturally, etc. All of this embellishes the story and will bring interest to the reader. Finally, in this section, we learn about structure and how to get to the "Heart of the Story," how to portray our story and its meaning in a universal way so that our readers can identify with our experience.
The final section of the book is dedicated to crafting the process and deals with voice and perspective. Are you telling the story as it happened or in hindsight: are you the ten-year-old girl in the story or the fifty-year-old woman recounting it? Norton also talks about imagery, setting the scene and the use of cliché in writing.
Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memory completely lives up to its title. I found it to be informative, absorbing and extremely readable. Norton writes with great enthusiasm and made me feel as though anything is possible, that, yes, I can definitely do this and do this well. Her book is a must-have reference for anyone interested in writing memoir.
by Janet Caplan
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
Yet I have always yearned to write books, with an ache I could feel. I covered up my desire with business writing; I even wrote a business book and had started several more. But over the years, many of my mentors have suggested that I write my story, about my life. "Why on earth would anyone want to read my story?" I'd always ask. However, a couple of weeks ago, when someone again suggested I write my story during a group call, something clicked inside of me.
I hung up the phone, got in the car, and drove straight to the bookstore. I pulled half a dozen books off the shelf on writing life stories, autobiographies, and memoir and sat myself down in a chair in the corner to look at all of them. Each one seemed complicated, or not practical, or just didn't connect with me...until the last one in my stack. It was a tiny little book called "Shimmering Images" by Lisa Dale Norton, and as I glanced through it, one phrase stood out as if it had been written in red ink. "I believe memoir writing is the most effective way to change the world," Norton writes. "Sounds lofty, I know, but honestly, the way I see it, when you write your story, you codify a truth about past experience. That act changes you, opens up new, stunning possibilities for your future, and when witnessed by a reader - if you've done your job well and written with authenticity - the sheer act of sharing your truth allows that reader to claim her own truth."
I had found my book. I bought the book, went outside the bookstore, found a chair in the Arizona sunshine, and read this little guide straight through, crying the entire time. It struck a chord in me that I had been waiting for but never knew I was expecting.
The exercises Lisa shares in her book are practical, useful, and they work. Already I am seeing pieces of my own life in a completely new way, and am now inspired to tell my story. Lisa has created a brilliant book with lovely writing, full of compassion and support and guidance.
I've looked for books that document the methods I've used, but have found none until now.
Most books on writing memoirs focus on lists of questions or topics. My method is to focus on storytelling and to let what's important bubble up from the person's own memory. That approach reveals what is important to THEM, not to me or some list-maker.
In most instances, even the people with many public accomplishments never mentioned them during our recordings. However, their stories do reveal the people and experiences (including failures) that shaped their character and poised them for such outward success -- and, more important, that were the foundation for their personal growth as well.
Shimmering Images is a step-by-step guide to capturing the essence of our life. Lisa Dale Norton delivers this in a concise and readable 112-pages. We do not have to become "writers" and spend years researching and learning the craft. People are natural storytellers. Our life is our preparation. Shimmering Images shows us how to release what we already know in our own voice.
When I finished the book, I actually kissed it and said aloud,"Thank You!"
Yes, thank you, Lisa Norton, for making it possible for anyone -- famous or not, professional writer or not -- to probe and record the past in an engaging way that enlightens the future for us and for others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews