My Blog


Women’s Memoir Conference

I thought I’d never go to Texas, but Austin, here I come! And it isn’t for the music scene. I’m going to Stories from the Heart VI, the 6th National Women’s Memoir Conference, April 13-15, at the Wyndham Hotel in Austin. Not only that, I’m a conference presenter. My workshop,

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Memoir in Third Person

I learned about shame and writing many years ago. I also learned a good lesson about how third person works in memoir — and doesn’t. A memoir student of mine wrote a story about her family living out of a camper by a river in Tennessee during the 1930s, when

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Why I Write

When people ask what I write, I usually tell them about what I’ve published or plan to publish, I never tell them about my four decades of journaling, those thousands of pages I’ve penned. I don’t tell them about the last six years, when I’ve  journaled on the computer so

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Write Through the Layers

Truth in memoir is expected, but it’s not always easy to tell. It may be what brought you to the writing desk, but it can also be what scares you away from it. It hurts! Why would you want to put yourself through remembering pain?! There are a few good

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The Virtues of Vulnerability

When is a writer vulnerable? How about every day. In her talk “The Power of Vulnerability” on Ted.com (December 2010), research professor at the University of Houston Brene Brown says that part of what leads to a good connection is vulnerability. She says good speakers make a human connection, and

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The Anchorwoman

Three years into teaching memoir I met a woman who never lived the life she wanted. Marge was a regal woman with a commanding presence, a deep, gravelly voice, and neatly swept back silver hair. She was new to the retirement community where I taught memoir Thursday afternoons for the

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Alma

At 26 I led my first writing workshop at the dining room table of my San Francisco flat, overlooking rooftops and traffic winding along Highway 101. I hadn’t been able to find the workshop I wanted, so I created one, and gave groups of writers what I was looking for:

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Being a Ghost

A ghostwriter gets to walk in a lot of different people’s shoes. It’s like being an actor: you have to sound like your client (or character), then help them sound even better. Good editors do this, too. It’s how I’ve worked in so many fields when my one field, really,

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Inviting the Muse

I hear about it all the time. People tell me they write when they’re inspired. Some write on a schedule, or at least they aspire to. And some people write by the seasons; wintertime becomes a perfect time to create and polish. Author Terry Tempest Williams is one who writes

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Shadow Boxes

Shadow Boxes

Shadow boxes fascinated me as a little girl. You could cut out cardboard in the shapes of people and furniture, fold a bottom edge of each piece and glue it to the inside of a shoe box, cut a quarter-sized hole in the narrow end of it, peek inside, and

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