Do you want to tell the story of your life? So many writers do. And for many, the process is both difficult and painful. Emotion seems to come with the territory of memoir – so much so that New York Times editor Neil Genzlinger once began the review of a memoir with this plea: “A moment of silence, please, for the lost art of shutting up.”
With all due respect to Genzlinger (and I do get his point), our job here at The Writer is to help you open your thoughts and your craft to the possibility of telling stories in all genres, all formats. The February 2016 issue focuses on developing the chops for a memoir. We include an interview with Margo Jefferson, arts critic turned essayist turned memoirist. Why and how did she cross over to this new voice? What drove her story? Read the interview and find out. We also include an excerpt from her memoir Negroland, a complicated tale about race, class, identity and American culture.
But don’t stop there. This month is packed with advice about memoir: Lee Smith’s entertaining and illuminating essay about the role of imagination and community in storytelling, features by teachers on the tricks of the trade, a how-to article on narrative structure, an educational piece on teaching the genre to youths and details about a conference dedicated to memoir. It’s all here for you in what we believe is a thoughtful exploration of the form.
If you’re not a memoirist, you’ll still find nuggets of gold in this issue that apply to nearly every genre. Such as: Novelist Jonathan Evison has much to say about humor and point of view – both applicable to other forms of writing.
“I wake up wanting to work,” writes Pete Croatto in his fun essay on the benefits of simply being nice. The larger point is: We want you to wake up wanting to work, and every word in the February issue supports that mission. We also hope that every word inspires you on your quest, whether you’ve lived it or are making it up.
Enjoy this issue. Then back to work, everybody.