Book: The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly by Marion Roach Smith
Genre: Writing book
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 2011 (previously published as Writing What You Know: Realia, 2010)
Summary: A slim volume, itself an example of memoir, that illustrates, teaches, and encourages the writing of memoir in all its variety of forms and functions.
Thoughts: Don’t look at The Memoir Project if you’re looking for writing exercises. Marion Roach Smith doesn’t recommend them. Instead she offers this invitation:
So let’s begin together, literally on the same page, and with a tacit agreement that from this moment on, we will write no exercises; we will write for real. With a goal. p. 7
Although, if you’re used to writing exercises, some of the ideas she offers could be approached that way, but with a goal in mind for what to do with the piece once it’s written — write a holiday article for a magazine, an op-ed piece for a newspaper, or take something that happened this week and turn it into a column or blog post.
The Memoir Project is perhaps best for people who have been exposed to writing classes or books because there are inside jokes that someone completely new to writing might not get. For example, there is a funny story about a student paper containing a bar graph as the cosmic graph (what others call the nut graph). You might be just as confused as the student if you don’t understand that ‘paragraph’ is sometimes shortened to ‘graph’ by journalists.
The final short chapter, Life in the Morgue, describes editing techniques that I’m looking forward to emulating.
My next, and final, book for the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge was mentioned twice in The Memoir Project. I felt destined to read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield as soon as I finished.
Appeal: For anyone with an interest in writing memoir, whether for the general public or for family and friends.
Reviews: I love that Belle Wong, aka Ms. Bookish, saw some of her blog posts as memoir after reading The Memoir Project. The Memoir Project helped Delia of Postcards from Asia understand and improve her writing process.
Have you read this book? What did you think?