Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cathy Gildiner on writing memoir

A terrific piece from today's Globe - though it fizzles at the end, perhaps was cut? - about the importance, the difficulty and the pleasure, of writing memoir.

I'm especially interested because I recently - thrillingly - found someone, one of Canada's best editors, to coach me through the writing of my new memoir. Though she has edited famous peoples' stories about the great things they accomplished, she has never edited a "nobody memoir," as "All My Loving" was and as the new one will be. But she had valuable comments to make on the Beatle story, and I can't wait to work with her on this one.

When I told her about the new work, which is about the life-changing year 1979 when I was 28, she wrote back, "I think you’ll be writing four or five memoirs in all, Beth. You’ve already dealt with the young girl through the Paul lens.  Now the young woman, adrift, but finding her anchor. And next? Wife and mother, until the separation. And then the brave mature woman, fashioning her life in new ways yet again as teacher and mentor, landlady and friend, grandma and ?. Finally, reflections from the wise old dame, sometimes crabby but always astute, building bridges to all those, regardless of age, around her."

And I replied, "Good God, I think not. After two books, people will start paying me to shut up!" But reading about Cathy Gildiner with three memoirs, I started to think ... Hmmmm.

Here's another writer's view. Well, that's where my new editor comes in.
Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. 
-Colette, author (28 Jan 1873-1954)

And for those of you in the west end needing peace and quiet, there's a wonderful new place, High Park Commons, which rents out a tranquil room with desk and coffee. If only I'd had that when my kids were little ... no, nothing would have changed. But for those of you more productive and focussed than this scattered and restless writer, check it out:

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