Finally!

Kirkus Badge“Writers think they’ll start off writing with a piece like ‘Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.’ That’s not how it works. You need to begin with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’” I’ve misquoted author Jamie Ford, but you get the gist. Learning how to write well, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, is a long, arduous path. Writing is an act of passion, and to succeed you need to persevere, read critically, and write, write, write. There’s no one way of establishing the habit, no one rule which applies to all writers, which is why I’ve loved interviewing authors about their paths in The Writers Connection www.writersconnection.org

My path began with classes at the community college (long after I earned a Masters in Social Work), and continues to this day with as many classes I can afford. My method was introduced by Carlene Cross in Theo Nestors’s “Generating Memoir” class: read one hundred books of your genre. That, I did. Here postings with lists of memoirs I wrote in order to write A Long Way from Paris.

  1. Possible Side Effects Augustin Burroughs
  2. Writing is My Drink by Theo Nestor
  3. The Story of The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp
  4. On the Road Jack Kerouac
  5. Truth and Beauty Ann Patchett
  6. Diary of a Drug Fiend by Alister Crowley
  7. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelden
  8. When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd
  9. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Hays
  10. Without a Map by Meredith Hall

Goal

ECM_Goats_Eating photo

Carlene Cross, author of Fleeing Fundamentalism, advised Theo Nestor’s memoir students to “read one hundred books of your genre.” I am plodding along towards my “read one hundred memoirs” goal. I’m now at forty-seven and a half. I’ve read some enchanting books, some entertaining, some tear jerkers, some best for starting campfires.

Why a “half?” I believe in finishing books. I really do. But, one book I picked up by a well respected author and her daughter, I just couldn’t get through. I tried. I did. But in the end, I felt I’d wasted three weeks of my life. I put it down half way.

Travel memoirs are tricky. Do I really care how crowded your bus was in Fez, Morocco? I will if you’re a good story-teller. My favorite memoirist is still number twelve – Tobias Wolff. How can you not love someone raised in Concrete, Washington?

  1. Fleeing Fundamentalism by Charlene Cross
  2. Anatomy of Loss by Abigail Carter
  3. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  4. 21 Dog Years by Mike Daisy
  5. Growing Up by Russell Baker
  6. The Same River Twice by Chris Offut
  7. The Lover by Marquerite Dumas
  8. A Year in Provence by Peter Myles
  9. One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Flick
  10. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  11. How to Sleep Alone in King Size Bed by Theo Nestor