I recommend plotting in chronological order the key events of your life.
Take the event that resonates with you the most and start writing about that time in your life.
The goal is to have 50 pages of writing. I recommend joining a writing workshop that is comprised of supportive, knowledgeable, and educated individuals from diverse walks of life.
The first memoir workshop I joined in 2001 was for Italian American writers. The next workshop I joined had four women and was at first lead by a published fiction writer and playwright. Then we met on our own at each others’ houses.
I was not afraid to tell my story to unknown strangers in 2001 and then again with the women. At some point, you’ll have to get feedback for your writing. You can’t rely solely on your own eye or ear.
There is no formula for writing memoir. I told my story in chronological order and tightly edited it to include only certain scenes that followed one into the other in a cohesive, linear narrative.
You can’t bridle up what you have to say when you first start. It might take two, three, or more rounds of editing to polish and perfect your story.
So write where you are. Keeping going. Listen to other people’s feedback with an open mind.
You want to publish only the best possible version of your story. Regardless of whether you get an editor to buy your book, or you decide to self-publish, you have to bring out a great, engaging story.
I will talk more in the coming blog entries about how to see your life with new eyes to uplift your narrative. Or as one woman in the first workshop told another woman, “Be Irish” even though she wasn’t from Ireland. You have to fully become the character whose life you’re crafting.
Sometimes this will be unsettling. You’ll have to go to the root of the narrative and pull up the weeds so that the gorgeous flowers show through. What you write might be about something sad, about a horror, yet there should always be something elegant and beautiful about it. (That’s what I think.)