Advice for memoir writers (7)

In a certain sense, most of this web site could fit into this category. We get our inspiration and drive from life and from writers we admire, and we can convert any literary model into advice if we read it properly as a personal message.

Some authors tell you to write every day, some to find a sacred space where you can get away from the world; but the only advice everybody agrees on is that you should write your own truth. All writers find their own way of expressing themselves.

These links elaborate on that advice.

All links to this topic are included in the Memoir category list. See right sidebar.!

“I can write my shadow”: Alexis Cheung interviews Maxine Hong Kingston

Some beautiful observations about writers and readers and writing. Gems for anybody interested in personal writing.

Father knows best: What’s your advice for new writers?

Starting is a sticking point for many would-be writers. There are hundreds of people planning to write for every one who sits down to put words together. The key is just to get going. Writers do the work and do not spend time talking about it.

JLF 2017: 4 authors on the power of a memoir & the importance of remembering

Notes from a symposium in which four writers touch on dozens of issues of interest to any author of first-person narrative.

Book review: Megyn Kelly’s memoir “Settle for More” doesn’t get personal enough

A slash-and-burn review with cautions for all potential memoir writers.

This is how you write a memoir

An excellent starting point for anybody thinking of writing life stories. Equally interesting are the comments following the article, which show how the agendas of readers have as much to do with the acceptance of what is written as the words on the page.

Writing a memoir

A primer full of good advice for novices contemplating their first memoir.

‘Don’t write me off’: Osborne hints at political comeback after saying it is too soon to write his memoirs

There is lots wrong with this picture. Unlike the claim of this person, it cannot be too soon to write a memoir because the author doesn’t know the end of his story. If that were the case, nobody could write a memoir until at death’s door. A memoir is not the complete story of a life; we never remember all the details. A memoir is a story, part of a life, one perspective on something worth remembering.

How not to get sued for your memoir

Rule number one in  memoir writing is to tell your truth as you remember it. But if that truth will offend or humiliate somebody else, you must consider other factors – principles of courtesy and the law – as well.

Mary Karr is not ‘the boss of memoir,’ but she is its most celebrated practitioner

Some good advice and cautions here for memoirists and people planning to write memoirs.

How to write a collage-style memoir

Besides the obvious requirement to be interesting, a life story must hold together. Here is a unique method to help structure your own story.

Biography and memoir (3)

The most valuable first-person narratives go beyond facts and get to emotional truths – truths that can be shared by readers.

Some people who hope to write a memoir are unaware of the differences between biography and memoir. More often than not, they simply want to record what they think are some incontrovertible facts about the life they have lived. Many have never thought about diving inside themselves to examine some key moments, the events that changed them, the people who impressed them, the mistakes that taught them. They are caught off-guard when they become aware of how tenuous and uncertain memory can be.

Writers must come to grips with some important distinctions. Biography is simply the story of a person’s life, in whatever form it takes. In autobiography, the story is told in the first person. It tries to be objective, but it never can be because nobody can write objectively about his or her own life. Memoir goes one step further. It is autobiography with attitude, a record of a life from a particular point of view, with likes and dislikes, ups and downs.

The most important distinction between these forms is that the writers of autobiography and biography purport to be objective. They aim for historical accuracy, and they might be helped by old diaries, journals, and letters. Memoir, on the other hand, depends largely on memory. It is based on whatever can be remembered, regardless of whether the events ever happened or not.

All links to this topic are included in the Memoir category list. See right sidebar.

A history of the grandparents I never had

We live in history, but we do not always leave a history behind. Sometimes we must dig into the past to find the people who left no record.

I helped my dad write his memoir (and so can you): He was bored and lonely after retiring, until his daughter’s thoughtful gift made him realise he had a story to tell

There are times when it is hard to tell the difference between biography and memoir. These include the “as told to” genre, in which writers tell the stories of others, often their parents.

The difficulties of writing a cross-border memoir in today’s world

One of the problems in writing a memoir is that life is not over, and that the situations we try to describe may also be continuing to develop. This writer found that history was galloping alongside the story he wanted to tell about his father and was obscuring his experiencing self from his remembering self.

Writers into saints

We like to think that the people who write most beautifully and with the greatest insight themselves live the most beautiful lives and approach others with sensitivity. But such is not always the case.

Should traditional biography be buried alongside Shakespeare’s breakfast?

Lives do not take place in a vacuum. With today’s plethora of tools, writers can explore historical biographies from more perspectives than ever. Some good insights in the comments to this article as well.

When someone else writes your memoir

One of the most interesting aspects of writing a memoir is the freedom of creating a persona. Who are you, who were you, who do you want the world to see? There’s a certain freedom in that. Cynics would say that the person who ends up on the page sporting your name won’t be you, really, so you might as well pretend to be somebody else from the start.

Burn your letters?

As a memoir writer, you control your own image — through how you describe yourself and in what you say about the world. But that image will remain intact only if you don’t leave what used to be called a paper trail. With social media, that gets harder all the time. What you say in letters and blog posts does not die when you do.

Searching for I.B. Singer

An essay on the relationship between life stories and readers, based on the work of one of the great autobiographical writers of the twentieth century.

Life’s sacred stories

We never know where our life is going, but if we document each step carefully, some day we will be able to see where it has been.

The innocents at Cedro: A memoir of Thorstein Veblen and some others, by R. L. Duffus

Sometimes we are privileged enough to rub elbows with the famous, but when it is a questionable privilege we may come away with nothing but stories to show for it. Here is one such case.

Effects of memoir (3)

Memoirs can have almost limitless effects, sometimes because of the process that creates them and sometimes because of the subject matter. On the most basic level, memoirs grow out of experience and they forever alter the perceptions of people who are attentive to them – both the people who write them and the people who read them.

On a more subtle level, there is no limit to the ways that working on a memoir can affect a writer. If you look back on life with care, you might find the story you started with is not the one you have to tell. You could have enough aha! moments to change what you thought you knew about your parents, your friends, your colleagues. This could change your life in untold ways.

Once the story is sent out into the world, of course, it can transform the world view of readers. It could stir up controversy, even break up relationships, especially if it does not agree with an accepted family or social narrative. Some of the problems caused by memoirs are more interesting than the original stories.

All links to this topic are included in the Memoir category list. See right sidebar.

Story listening as a transformative process

Story telling can be a mutually beneficial process, helping listeners as well as the story teller. While listeners can benefit from the gist of a story, they can help the teller refine the story by explaining what works and what does not. A lengthy article well worth reading.

What’s left of my books

When we are gone, what’s left of us is what we produced, words or works. Most of those last only as long as the people who knew us recall them, tell our jokes, remember the crazy things we did. It’s a shame that we have lost the random thoughts, hopes, plans of almost everybody who ever lived, but we can at least keep our stories alive for posterity.

I was writing my life story, but left myself out of the picture

When you write memoir, what has happened to you is part of the story, and what has happened in you is another part. This is a story about discovering that lesson.

Re-visioning memoir: An interview with Linda Joy Myers

An interview with the president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, illustrating some of the ways that revisiting and probing the past can transform a writer with the courage to stare down more painful times.

The unique challenges of memoir

Some reflections based on experience, about the psychological and legal and moral implications of digging deeply into your psyche to find the truth, whatever that may be, and then publishing it to the world.

The danger in probing memory in the spirit of self-discovery

Thinking about our past can dredge up some phantoms we never expected to find. The implications of this phenomenon are as significant in memoir writing as in psychoanalysis.

Memoirs of a Serbian Lady Macbeth

We cannot assume that our stories will show us in the same light as we hope. Memoirs can expose more than we want them to.

Holocaust survivors’ son finds peace writing about Germany

You can make some surprising things happen to yourself when you probe deeply. The author of this book claims it wrote him, not the other way around.

The demons

Looking at your own life is not a simple matter, any more than your emotions, your fears, your hopes, are simple. Creating a life story involves working through doubts and illusions.

Writing promotes emotional expression

An essay written from a psychological point of view, explaining the emotional benefits that result when we write about the people and events that once injured us.

Memoir (3)

Many popular memoirs are written by celebrities or people who have lived through extraordinary experiences. The articles in this section does not link to these. Rather, it focuses on ideas related to what it means to write memoir – ideas such as the craft of story telling, and how we remember and forget.

Most of the links that follow deal with the concept of memoir. Some of them deserve attention because they are unusual. Writers and readers will benefit from knowing about them.

All links to this topic are included in the Memoir category list. See right sidebar.

Memoirs transcend personal experience

Here is the crux of the issue: memoir is not what happened, or even what is supposed to have happened to a writer who can now look back on the past. If memoir does not reflect the mysteries and ambiguities of human life, plus some of the doubts and regrets that follow experience, it is of as little use to a reader as a diary would be. The question is not what happened, but the meaning of what happened.

Emotional journey of writing

The timid reflections of a memoir wannabe, including a variety of cautions and fears that face all writers who think of publicizing their most intimate thoughts.

Harnessing the creative impulse: Author Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron suggests that memoir is less a way of summing up than a way of rediscovering the things we have left behind.

CARPE LIBRUM: Approaches to the memoir

A look at two books that deal with the theory of memoir. What they come down to is the need for a good story. Memoir, after all, is memories, not what actually happened.

A new way to think about memoirs

Review of a book that is certain to send the reader scrambling to find dozens of other sources. A valuable resource.

Turning pages: The memoir craze and how we write about ourselves

There are many reasons why people write memoirs and why so many personal life stories are published. This is a look at a few of the reasons.

Becoming story: The state of the memoir

A lengthy, erudite examination of the genre, which not only discusses the obvious subjects – truth, fiction, and the meaning of life – but deals with therapy, exile, escapism, time travel, and ordinariness, then ends up looking at the possibility that memoir might help us make strawberry jam as well.

Open letter from Dani Shapiro: “Dear disillusioned reader who contacted me on Facebook”

An articulate reminder that memoir is not the story of a life. It is far more limited than that, a story from a life. But it is first and foremost a story.

“And we feel seen”: Memoir as shared space

Memoir goes way beyond the incidents that happened in the writer’s life. It becomes more effective if it opens a connection with the reader, beginning a conversation.

Nobody’s son

The most significant part of what happens to you is not likely to  get put into a Wikipedia article, no matter how famous you might become. Your real experience takes place deep down.

Sensory memories (3)

Conscious acts of remembering differ from what happens in the brain when we key in text on a computer keyboard or play musical scales on the piano. These activities call on what is sometimes called “muscle memory” – or “memories” that occur only because the body has become habituated to certain repetitive movements.

This category focuses mainly on the memories evoked by the senses – the taste of baking in a cake eaten half a century ago. Or sunset, which can remind you of a specific beach and a specific day around the world many years ago. You can be repelled by a pungent smell you last knew at home when your mother was cooking a dish you did not like. And a piece of wood on your desk can transport you back to the redwood forests of northern California.

But there can be a breakdown in this ability. Prosopagnosia, for example, is a neurological condition that keeps people from recognizing faces – sometimes even their own.

Music is a major part of this subject. There seems to be a special place for it in the brain. It takes little effort to remember the words of songs we knew as teen-agers, and even people in advanced stages of dementia have been known to respond vigorously to melodies they heard many years earlier.

Memory prompts stimulate memory simply by their presence. The most famous of these is the small cake (the madeleine) that opened up the floodgates of Marcel Proust’s memory and allowed him to write endless recollections of his life.

These are just some of the dimensions of the subject. Each of these paragraphs is just a brief glimpse. If you want more, follow the links.

All links to this topic are included in the Memory category list. See right sidebar.

New study gives explanation for food’s prominence in memory

It may not be clear what foods will improve memory, but we do remember the foods  we loved or despised. Meals and parties can provoke strong memories.

Why objects can be more meaningful gifts than experiences

Memory cues are crucial to recall, whether of recent or of distant events. This article discusses the elements that make cues significant.

Anusha Yadav on a photograph’s power to retain memory and create illusion

Memory prompts can be powerful means for bringing the past to mind, and none are more accessible than photographs. In themselves documents of what happened, they can comprise their own kind of memoir.

Opening the door to memory

This article describes a project that uses movement and art as memory prompts to show a community how it has moved forward from crises in the 1980s.

Music to heal memory

Of all phenomena related to memory, few are as fascinating as music. There seems to be a special area of our psyche that responds to music as experience does not, as faces do not, as education does not. Alzheimer’s patients react to it as to nothing else.

For the love of stuff

We surround ourselves with objects that remind us of where we have been and, ultimately, of who we have become. They are our quintessential memory prompts.

How your brain retrieves a memory when you sense something familiar

A tentative explanation of why we don’t recognize a person out of context, and why it is so easy to remember things when they are where we have seen them before.

The scent of a memory

A discussion of a kind of memory prompt we don’t think about much but which is as vivid as any other.

As America ages, museums are adapting to audiences with memory loss

Instead of focusing on the aesthetics of art works themselves, some museums are using paintings and sculpture as memory prompts for people whose memories are slipping.

The aromas of memory

We can all relate to these reminiscences, even if we have never experienced the odors described in this essay.

Early memories (3)

As we age, our earliest memories become less distinct. They fade, and at last – à la Proust – we are left with memories of memories. We remember that we used to remember a street, or a room,  or a woman carrying a load of laundry. But back then, whenever that was, we lacked the understanding, the vocabulary, the grasp of concepts, that we developed later to fix ideas. And because it is almost impossible to remember what our thoughts were like when we were ignorant, our earliest memories eventually disappear in a haze of distance.

Some people claim to remember events that happened when they were one or two years old. Throughout life, I myself have carried what I have thought was the memory of the first time I saw my brother, born one year after I was. My research has not killed that memory, only made me doubt it. I also have an early memory of a park, which I wanted to verify for years, until I realized that the trees would no longer look the same. And there is also the memory of baby food, a dessert, which I wanted to recapture as a teen-ager, only to be disgusted by the overwhelmingly cloying presence of what I by then recognized as vitamin B.

But we carry more than events and sights and tastes from our early days. There is also the matter of how we process experience. It is in our early days that we learn who we are; it is then that we begin to tell ourselves that we are capable, or important – or the opposite. Our early memories shape us, in unimaginable ways.

For most of us, it is enough that early childhood happened. The details have mercifully receded into the past. For those of us who are not content with that, some curiosity can be satisfied by the hints and theories in the following links.

All links to this topic are included in the Memory category list. See right sidebar.

Unravelling ‘recovered memories’

The authenticity and reliability of early childhood memories are controversial, especially when they are purported to have been traumatic.

He was her heroic older brother until she started to dream that he had raped and tortured her

“The past,” L.P. Hartley reminds us, “is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” And everybody’s past remains a foreign and threatening country to anybody else who ever lived there.

We may be able to tap into our memories from infancy

The pursuit of this research will have mixed benefits – and will result in mixed problems as well.

New clues about the way memory works in infancy

Neuroscience is still trying to figure out why we don’t hold on to our earliest memories.

How the brain builds panoramic memory

We remember things better when we can associate them with something else. Many people have a better memory of the home they grew up in than another house much later. This  is because as children we are taking in everything around us and storing the whole picture.

This is why childhood memories usually completely disappear

This mystery has puzzled many people but is impossible to examine closely because children lack the vocabulary for discussing it.

Broken bones and old songs: A novelist’s fight to keep memory alive

Our earliest memories remain fuzzy, but we can reclaim some of them if we try hard enough.

Dylan Farrow molestation account a false memory, says Woody Allen attorney

Time obscures the truth of the past, smudges it, disguises it. So many factors conspire to make it impossible to know what happened when we were children. This renders it even more difficult to evaluate somebody else’s old memories, whether they have been suppressed or not.

Your first memory probably isn’t yours, no matter how real it seems

Some of us think we remember events from before we were two years old. Here are scientific reasons to doubt those memories.

Childhood memories can be deceptive

As adults, we have no way of knowing which of our earliest memories reflect the reality of the past and which are the result of our imagination. We may have made them up as young children, or afterward, when we tried to recall what happened. Those memories are unanchored images, part of what has made us but unverifiable.

Aids to memory (3)

When people talk informally about improving their memory, they usually refer to the ability to remember class notes or every telephone number in their address book. But there are many kinds of memory. For the purposes of writing memoir, the most important type of memory is the ability to recall events in the past – sometimes from years earlier, when there is no chance to go back to replay them.

The best hope for a potential memoirist is to have been one of the people, in the words of Henry James, on whom nothing is lost. Paying attention to the present is the best method of grabbing the moment once it has become the past.

Experts in many fields purport to offer formulas for a better memory, from eating certain foods to taking nutritional supplements to getting a good night’s sleep. All that can be said for certain is that all of of these may be useful for some people and some of them are helpful in one way or another for everybody, but none of them is a universal cure for forgetfulness.

Memory prompts are usually more reliable, especially if they are personal. The local souvenirs you brought back from Greece, or the quirky hat you wore on your honeymoon, will always bring certain days, even minutes, back to mind. A carefully kept diary is also helpful in restoring special moments from the past.

All links to this topic are included in the Memory category list. See right sidebar.

The truth about memory supplements

Truth is a dangerous claim to make in science, especially when as definitively as in this article. But skepticism is another story, especially about nutritional supplements that are touted as memory boosters or aids.

Your best friend is like Google for your memories

An unusual study of how people who are close to each other reinforce each other’s memories. What one gets wrong, the other is in a position to correct. They form a kind of intimate memory network.

Does online gaming improve memory?

This research suggests that aging parents and friends will remember more and better after a trip to the casino.

True silence creates new brain cells, improves memory

A unique pitch for meditation

Getting smarter

There are different kinds of memory, and there is a different kind of discipline involved in developing each of them. Brain games, for example, will not improve your recall of past events. Memorizing a long list of historical batting averages will not help you remember what Aunt Lucy told you thirty years ago. There is no better way to remember life stories as an older person than, from an early age, to pay attention to the present.

How do I improve my memory? Forget more!

It may not seem reasonable that we must forget in order to improve our memory; it’s easier to understand that a brain cluttered with the minutiae of everyday life will keep us from remembering meaningfully.

Jog your memory

Tips for the modern age, a set of strategies for people who normally send their memories to digital devices, and a reminder that memory decline is not inevitable, especially for young people, who have just not been paying attention to the world around them.

Physical activity after learning something can help with memory consolidation, but it has to be at the right time

We are complex. If we want to grow and advance, we cannot follow any simple formulas. We are often encouraged to exercise if we want to strengthen memory. This article fine-tunes that advice.

8 ways to improve your memory

Similar basic tips and reminders about memory appear in other places on this web site, but they bear repeating.

Researchers reveal how disrupting gut-brain communication may affect learning and memory

It is well known that signals from the gut communicate with the brain. It turns out that the signals reach the hippocampus, the seat of memory. Here is research that investigates whether the signals also affect other cognitive and memory processes.

Motivation to tell life stories (3)

First-time memoir writers usually need a reason to sit down and write. And once they have begun, they need encouragement to keep on writing. Few are as inspired as Walt Whitman, who said the “sun-rise would kill me, / If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.” People who have that kind of fire and drive do not need web sites like this one.

Everybody who writes life stories has personal reasons for telling the world about the past. These links show multiple dimensions of the topic. There are more reasons sprinkled throughout this web site.

All links to this topic are included in the Telling stories category list. See right sidebar.

Memoirs: Answering the tough questions

Memoir is never just a list of experiences, as interesting as those might be. It also involves an intensely personal response to events, emotional awareness, and a readiness to expose our deepest selves to the world.

Memoir helps author Alex Witchel ‘hear’ her mom again

Sometimes you write because it’s the only way to make sense of life. And when that happens there is no alternative to honesty. You may find your true voice when only the truth is worth writing about.

‘Wasn’t she something’: Mainers explore the legacy of memoir

These reflections from a group of people writing their life stories give potential memoirists lots to ponder.

Light and shadow: Writing a memoir to understand a father

Of all the reasons to write your own life story, the need to understand yourself may be the best. Not far behind is the need to understand the people you have known. (Self-justification may be the worst reason.)

From Malala to Zayn Malik: Why you are never too young to write a memoir

We all have memories that are worth recalling. Some memoirs can benefit from the perspective of youth, when the distancing filter of years has not yet set in.

A free marketplace of ideas: Reflections on blogging, expertise and first person narratives

There are hundreds of reasons to write about the past. The benefits of writing memoir go far beyond a need to display expertise and the exercise does not require writing skill. But the author of this article gloms onto one or two reasons to write first-person narratives and dismisses them for all but the most skilled and expert writers.

Dying writer pens memoir for her family

The motivation behind the writing of this memoir is unique. But it points to the need to write our stories while we have intact senses and a healthy body.

‘Tell me who you are’ – 3 reasons to share your story

A reminder that memoir is not a listing of events and achievements as much as a chronicle of motives and lessons learned along the way.

‘Lancaster County’: A convicted killer’s memoir – but much is missing

In all stories, but especially personal stories, motivation is a key ingredient. The author of this essay contends it should have been made more clear to the reader.

7 memoir writing tips for writing with intention

It can be hard to start telling your story. You need a reason to do it, and a passion to act on that reason.

Telling stories (3)

Somewhere in the short stories of Voltaire is a woman who claims that everybody who has lived a certain number of years – I think she said forty  – has a great life story to tell.

Every life is unique, and everybody negotiates unique events in a unique way. The perspectives we bring to experience and the perspectives created in us by experience give us the raw material for fascinating narratives. We all sprout the seeds for more than one memoir.

But as every novice cook knows, ingredients alone do not inevitably result in a delicious product. Effective memoir, interesting stories, require skill and technique.

A secondary but equally important aspect of the subject of life stories relates to the stories we tell ourselves. How we see the world and our place in it is shaped and colored by our self-concepts and our attitudes. These are as important to our story as the events we survive

All links to this topic are included in the Telling stories category list. See right sidebar.

Writing intense quiet

Memoir is not science fiction (or, as cynics would have it, it normally is not), but narrative is narrative regardless of the medium, and these observations by a science fiction writer have a lot to say to memoirists about telling stories.

The recounting of your life story is as much as process as a product: Why I won’t use the fill-in-the-blank books

Writing about your own life can bring you dozens of unexpected rewards. Here is a look at some of them, as suggested by people who have devoted their energies to telling and studying life stories.

Writing life stories

A memoir cannot be a spur-of-the-moment project of an afternoon. To assemble full life stories a writer needs the qualities Melville prayed for in Moby-Dick: time, strength, cash, and patience –  not necessarily in equal portions, but at least sufficiently to sustain enthusiasm and to keep the material alive.

How to tell a true tale: Neil Gaiman on what makes a great personal story

Some opinions from a master story teller that are crucial for any would-be writer of life stories. The final link in the essay takes you to some more of Gaiman’s valuable advice.

Memoir ‘The telling’ makes sense of Zoe Zolbrod’s childhood sexual abuse

The reviewer points out a crucial fact: “that no matter how inherently interesting or momentous a true story is, if its author can’t tell that story well, then the resulting piece of memoir will not amount to much.”

‘The sense of an ending’ is a powerful, moving portrait of memories past

‘The sense of an ending’ goes mawkish on screen, utterly betraying Julian Barnes

Two reviews of the same film about memories. They should make you wonder whether the reviewers saw the same film, just as our arguments with brothers and sisters should make us wonder who saw what.

Film captures fullness of life as much as death

The details we put into a story can be as important as any other element. If we tell a story effectively, no paraphrase can do it justice.

Out on a limb: Write your own memoir, record your own story

Some basic tips to help writers with dozens of life stories focus on the factors that will make a single story interesting.

No, you probably don’t have a book in you

Publishing and writing are two different games. There’s lots more to getting your story out into the world than having had what you, or anybody else, thinks was an interesting life or an unusual experience.

Our stories and identity (3)

We want our stories to reflect an objective past,  but they rarely do. The factors that underlie our memoirs include not only the events we have experienced, but the attitudes we bring to the telling. Perhaps most important is our conception of self. We tell the world stories to demonstrate that we are, or have been, patient, kind, misunderstood, and so forth. In the process of writing life stories, we sometimes discover aspects of our personalities that we did not suspect before we began to write. These essays focus on the link between stories and how we perceive ourselves.


All links to this topic are included in the Telling stories category list. See right sidebar.

You’re a completely different person at 14 and 77, the longest-running personality study ever has found

According to this study, a person who writes memoir might as well be writing the biography of a different person. The older person may carry some memories of the earlier person, but attitudes change, values change, and so do approaches to life. The story you tell late in life might in no way resemble the story you would have told in your twenties.

My mother’s murder

An article with two perspectives, one of a child of four, the other of the adult she became, explaining the circumstances of her mother’s murder. The first half is especially unusual in its ability to present a credible naive point of view, especially because the writer knows what as a child she did not..

After a stroke at 33, a writer relies on journals to piece together her own story

In a caricatured and exaggerated form, this is everybody’s story. It pays to write your story along the way.

Self-imagination can enhance memory in healthy and memory-impaired individuals

A scientific study suggeting that we may be able to remember more of our past if we have a stronger sense of who we think we are today.

Fever dreams—Investigating the memoir

Luckily, most of us will never have to consciously reclaim memories that faded because of medical reasons. Here is a book by somebody who tried to do just that. If our memories give us our sense of self, what are the implications of their loss?

What our memories tell us about ourselves

Not only is our present life affected by what we experienced in the past; our memories are colored by what we have become since then. After you read this article, don’t bother with the comments. Just go back and check the archive of this blog.

Will digging into your family history unearth the unexpected?

Your story began long before you were born. Trying to understand who you are sometimes leads you down some strange alleys.

Writing a genealogical memoir was a long and fruitful journey into the past

There are many reasons to write a memoir The most important, and lasting, may be that researching, remembering, and writing take the writer on a voyage of self-discovery. This book is a good illustration.

Change your story, change your life

Underneath all the confusion we are always telling ourselves a story about our self. The story we write reflects the self at the heart of that narrative. Many people are unaware of how they perceive themselves, and their story is shapeless as a result, a collection of disconnected events and externals. We can control the person the world sees in our presence; the tweaks we make to our story can change what happens to us, how we see others, how they treat us. This may seem like a gigantic burden to place on a story, but we are the story. Writing a personal narrative is an important way to understand the myths we embody.

What your ‘life story’ really says about you

The narratives we tell about ourselves are not simply a record of past events. They shed light on how we have seen ourselves; they reflect the stories we have developed and altered, and show changes in how we have perceived our own personalities over time. Telling a life story is part of an ongoing process of self-examination.