Lisa Dale Norton
Your Life As Story: Writing Narrative Nonfiction
Creating a Narrator Readers Love ( Part II of II, Continued from September.)
by Lisa Dale Norton
"As a writer of memoir you have to get inside your experience|
and come to terms with it. . ."
Last month in this column I offered some lists of qualities readers like and dislike in a narrator of memoir. Those qualities rise in large part from the personal work we must do as writers of memoir. This month I continue talking about that personal work:
Everyone has a story. This is true.
Everyone thinks they can write their story and get it published with a big New York Publisher. This is fantasy.
One of the things that makes makes memoir such a hard form of literature to write is that the author must do personal work in addition to learning the writerly craft to create a narrating voice that doesn't turn readers off, either with immature behavior, like blaming everyone else for his sorry life, or woes-me/victim mentality, both sure ways to lose an audience.
As a writer of memoir you have to get inside your experience and come to terms with it, see other people with compassion and accept responsibility for your part in the larger drama called your life.
". . .learn to communicate . . .in such a way that the reader opens his eyes|
to the world new ways. "
"As writers of memoir. . . we have the responsibility to help readers transform their own existence. . ."
Lisa Dale Norton
Lisa Dale Norton's new book about memoir, SHIMMERING IMAGES: A HANDY LITTLE GUIDE TO WRITING MEMOIR, will be released by St. Martin 's Press in Spring '08. She is the author of Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills (Picador USA/St. Martin 's Press), a work combining memoir and nature writing. Lisa teaches for the UCLA Writers' Extension Program and speaks nationally on the power of story and the process of writing your own. She lives in Santa Fe. www.lisadalenorton.com|