One Cure for Stage Fright

Last Saturday night I gave the first in a series of public readings from my non-fiction memoir, Sometimes I See You. I was nervous, but thinking about the questions I had to answer to get the million dollar insurance policy that protected the Sebastopol Center for the Arts facility from damage had an amazing calming effect.

Did I plan to offer “mechanical rides?”
How about “a moon bounce? A rock climbing wall? Trampolines or similar rebounding devices?”
Was I considering a “petting zoo or animal rides?”
Would there be “firearms?” “Fireworks?”
What about “overnight camping?”
“Dunk tanks?”
“Water hazards?”
“Jet Skiing?”

Memoir Author Reading

I wrote on the form that my plan was to stand quite still, read aloud from my book and answer questions from an audience seated on folding chairs. There would be no more than 40 persons, few of whom would be under 60 years old. We would serve one platter of cracker-sized pre-sliced cheeses from Costco, along with 3 bottles of Balletto Zinfandel and a basket of Costco ancient grains crackers. We would use paper plates, paper napkins and plastic cups. I decided not to mention the wooden toothpicks I’d brought so folks could stab the cheese slices. No point in arousing the suspicions of an underwriter.
The evening was great! I enjoyed a very receptive, engaged audience and even got my damage deposit back.

And now, as I start to plan the next reading, I find myself wondering just what it would be like to have a dunk tank . . .

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Writing the Literary Memoir

For a couple of years, Luisa attended summer writing workshops at Cannon Beach, Oregon. One of the workshop presenters was poet and author, Judith Barrington. The first book of Judith’s that I read was Lifesaving: A Memoir. This powerful story of a young woman coming to terms with the accidental death of her parents was published in 2000.

memoir writing tipsWhen, several years later, I was ready to write my own memoir with a focus on how my daughter’s life and early death affected me and my family, I returned to Barrington. I reread Lifesaving and also read her wonderful volume: Writing The Memoir: From Truth to Art, which highlights the memoir writing process. This is an essential volume for anyone serious about becoming a memoirist. The chapter titles give you an idea of what’s inside:

  • Getting started
  • Finding form
  • Telling the truth
  • Using fictional techniques
  • Expanding your language skills
  • Developing sensory detail
  • Writing about living people
  • Placing your story in a larger context
  • Getting feedback on your work
  • Steering clear of common pitfalls
  • Legal issues pertaining to memoir
  • Guidelines for critique in writers’ groups

I returned many times to both volumes during the four years it took to write my memoir.

Thank you, Judith!

Are you thinking of writing a memoir? Have you read Judith Barrington?