Memoir Authors discussion

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General > How good is your memory when you go to write?

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message 1: by Zana (new)

Zana Hart (zanahart) | 12 comments I was just reading a book that made the point that our memories improve if we work at remembering things. That was interesting to me as I tend to think of myself as always having had a not-so-good memory. But today I was making notes for my third memoir (set in 1964) and I played around with how much I could remember. I surprised myself, in a good way! I have less source material for this book than for the two I've already done but a lot came back and I expect even more will.

What about you?


message 2: by Harry (last edited May 20, 2018 02:01AM) (new)

Harry Nicholson (harrynicholson) It can be productive to nourish snippets of recall, and take them for a walk (I walk by the shore, or on the hill). Memory begins to surface, or at least new stories weave themselves around old images. It seems to me that memory exists as images; stories are born to the pictures when they are brought back to the surface.
Each time the picture is returned to the memory it seems to be modified by our latest response to it. Some do say that we can be optimistic about the past. . . .


message 3: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (goodreadscompamela_sampson) | 6 comments I also think it's important to distinguish in any memoir the difference between what you absolutely remember and what you think you remember. For the sake of credibility.


message 4: by Zana (new)

Zana Hart (zanahart) | 12 comments I haven't had to distinguish like that yet, Pamela, as I had detailed letters and journals for the two memoirs I've written. But when I get to some flashbacks from when I was two or three years old, there are things I either remember or think I do that I'm not sure credibility will be an issue for. For example, I remember running away from Grandpa who would let me run and then eventually catch me. Did that really happen? If I can describe my emotions of glee, and my laughter at his picking me up in his arms, I think it will work in the book. But another memory from that time I think will have to be described as my mother's memory, a story she liked to tell of my leadership skills when we kids at preschool didn't want to eat broccoli and I got the others to put it under their chairs. I don't think that would ring true if I claimed to remember it!


message 5: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Robinson (t_r_robinson) | 23 comments Thankfully I have been blessed, though sometimes it can feel a curse, with a very detailed memory. Certainly helped with the writing of my existing memoirs and is helping as I work upon an unabridged autobiography. I have written a little on the subject of memory in my personal blog (as apposed to my 'professional' website). https://trmemoirs.wordpress.com


message 6: by Ken (new)

Ken Brandt (kenbrandt) | 7 comments Happily, many of the anecdotes and adventures I included in my book, I have been telling people over coffees and beers for years. By telling them repeatedly, they stayed and were reinforced in my memory, which helped the writing a lot. Just to be safe, I also asked the people who were with me in each anecdote and adventure to double check my draft of the event and get their permission to mention their name.
One of the adventures involved chasing a thief in a complex route through many streets in New York City and then finally catching him. I wasn't sure that I had the exact route, but the friend who was with me at the time provided invaluable assistance by helping me to create an accurate map of the chase's route.
So - pretty good memory, but reinforced over time, and I verified everything possible with friends. "Positive Vision: Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight".


message 7: by Graham (new)

Graham Hunter (goodreadscomgrahamhunter) | 5 comments Hi everyone, I am also new to this group. I published my first and probably only book in lockdown last year. It is the story of my life in the 1980s and onward when I worked behind the Iron Curtain plus other more exotic places. I agree with Ken that having told my stories to friends for many years it helped to keep them fresh in my memory. It was my friends continual comments that I ought to write a book that started me off. I was lucky enough to have kept all my old diaries plus I had hundreds of photographs, all off which I could look at while I was writing. Some of the people I mention have given me permission to use their names, others who I could not contact I have changed their names. I had never given all the details when narrating my stories but once I started to write I decided that the details, however personal, were necessary for the stories. Several people have said it must have been cathartic to write it all down and I suppose it was.
I was lucky enough to get my book reviewed on BBC Radio Wales in January where the lady presenter gave me a glowing review but added that she did blush a few times over some of the detail.
Its so nice to find a group like this where we can share common factors that have affected or influenced us. My poor wife gets fed up with me talking about it too much!
I look forward to hearing your views.


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