Post by Ariel Gore:
I’m thrilled to be a part of this retreat and look forward to sharing what I know about voice in memoir-writing and bringing elements of the “how to guide” into our creative nonfiction.
I started my career as a parenting writer twenty years ago. Back then, all the parenting magazines were full of “my way is best” advice for moms from psychologists, doctors, and nutritionists. I’d been a teen mom, a welfare mom, a single mom. I didn’t have all the answers, but I’d been there—which was more than a lot of the “experts” could say for themselves.
First in my zine, Hip Mama, and soon in the mainstream press as well, I wrote from the perspective of an imperfect expert—someone who so far had been doing all right keeping the kids alive and forgiving herself in the process.
And I learned that many readers preferred a voice like mine—they valued being real over being right.
Since Hip Mama days, I’ve authored memoirs like Atlas of the Human Heart, How-to books like How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, hybrid books like Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, and a novel that draws from memoir, how-to, myth, and history—The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show.
I believe that the best and most interesting writing we can do will always be cross-genre.
Ariel’s Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat Classes:
Memoir as Survival Guide: Writing a First-Person Book That’s Useful to Readers
We’re all imperfect experts in something. Whether you want to add a first-person element into a how-to book, write your memoir with an eye toward inspiring your readers, or something in between—we’ll learn to tap areas of our experience we might not even consider ourselves “experts” in as we merge memoir with survival guide.
The Language of Your Life: How Your Unique Voice Shapes and Defines Your Story
When you pick up a book by a favorite author and read those first few lines, you already recognize the voice, don’t you? Whether we’ve ever met them in person, the language and humor of writers like Anne Lamott, Frank McCourt, Maya Angelou or David Sedaris come through like old friends. What is distinctly “you” in your writing? Do you tell stories verbally differently than you might tell them when you get to the computer. We’ll work with our regional and subcultural language quirks, humor, and reading aloud as ways to hone our literary styles and look at the way voice itself can change and define our stories.
[In case you missed it previously, here is a sneak peek at Ariel Gore’s latest and unpublished writing project: Lung Cancer Noir ]