Get Ready, Portland–Melissa on Memoir
Last week for The Writer Magazine, I wrote a review of You Should Really Write a Book: How to Write, Sell and Market Your Memoir (St. Martins, August 2012) by author and agent Regina Brooks, and journalist and social worker Brenda Lane Richardson. In sophisticated, thought-provoking prose, the authors challenge the idea that agents, editors, and readers have finally tired of memoir.
Doubt the continued appeal of an author’s personal narrative? Consider the well-deserved success of Portland author Cheryl Strayed’s new memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. (You can read my review of the book from High Country News here).
I maintain, along with the authors of You Should Really Write a Book, that if you have an intriguing story to tell and you know how to tell it well (and market it successfully), editors will be interested.
On Tuesday, July 3rd, I’ll be speaking about memoir for the Portland, Oregon chapter of Willamette Writers. Details below; I hope to see you there!
Your Life in Words
July 3rd Meeting Speaker Melissa Hart
Have you ever wanted to write your life story? Have you ever gone through something in your life that changed you and now you believe others could benefit from your experience? Maybe you got sober in AA, or raised a barracuda of a kid (and survived!), or got brainwashed in a cult. Or maybe you discovered the 10 secrets to a productive (fill in the blank). Whatever the case may be, you have a true story to tell and our July speaker will teach you how to tell it.
On Tuesday, July 3rd, Melissa Hart will be at the Old Church to talk about how to write short memoirs for magazines and journals, and longer memoirs for books.
In a lively and entertaining talk, Melissa will explain the most compelling elements of memoir and how participants can identify appealing topics for both short and long forms of the genre. Using examples from published memoirists, she’ll discuss the memoir writer’s obligation to readers, as well as how to best to approach and impress editors and agents with a finished piece. A post-talk question and answer period will provide participants with candid, practical information to use in their own writing projects.
Melissa grew up in Southern California and began writing for regional newspapers at age 16. She earned a B.A. in Literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, in Plainfield, Vermont.
For the past eight years, she’s taught Feature Writing and Travel Writing at the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon. As well, she teaches a summer memoir class for U.C. Berkeley’s online extension program and private writing workshops in Eugene. She’s a contributing editor at The Writer Magazine, and the author of the memoir, Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood (Seal, 2009), which The Oregonian called, “a well-balanced tale that forgoes blame in favor of poignancy.” Melissa’s essays and articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Hemispheres, Writers’ Digest, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Advocate, Adbusters, and Horizon Air Magazine which–in June–ran and his habit of stealing the neighbors’ laundry.
Melissa lives in Eugene with her husband, photographer Jonathan B. Smith, and their daughter, plus too many cats. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, biking, backpacking, and traveling to quirky destinations such as giant bird parks and abandoned Costa Rican luxury hotels.
Even if you don’t think you want to write memoir, this talk will still help you cull interesting bits of your life that you can drop into your novel or short story.
We hope you’ll join us at the Old Church on July 3rd to hear Melissa Hart. Talk starts at 7:00 p.m.; doors open at 6:30. To learn more about Melissa, please visit her websites: www.melissahart.com or http://www.butt2chair.wordpress.com.