Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Directing Your Helping Nature Into Memoir

I have a client who meets with me bi-weekly. She's working, as many of my clients are, on a memoir. Hers focuses on surviving some pretty un-survivable sounding things: drugs, abuse and more. She has been driven to write it for years, but not found the time or support to do it. She hired me to help her keep on track.

Her vision from the beginning was very, very clear: "I want to write this book to share with other women who have been in situations I have been in - battered, abused - so they know they can find their way out."

This is a stellar and beautiful vision. This woman has a very strong helper nature, and I am excited to help her help others.

In the beginning we had a hard time getting her to stick to any kind of schedule. Not. Unusual.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Who Tells and How They Tell

I re-read Kay Redfield Jamison's Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness recently. I've been called to work with numerous people on memoirs that include psychosis and mania, so I knew it was time to look at how a major bestseller depicts this realm.

One of the things that is powerful in re-reading a book like this years after the initial reading is noticing how much I have changed, and how much the market has changed. Redfield Jamison, an academic and brilliant woman, writes about her experience mostly through telling. She uses very occasional scenes to show experiences of mania and depression, but for the most part she narrates what happened, and summarizes, relying on her own creedance as a researcher and psychologist to stand behind her story.

This is understandable. In 1996 in particular, memoir was less in a place of confession or even direct story revealing, and more a short version of autobiography.