writing a memoir

There are many how-to books  about writing memoirs, and often writers who embark on the journey of writing a memoir feel compelled to follow the suggestions these books offer. If they veer from their recommendations, writers panic, believing they will not have a good memoir in the end.  My blog will be about why I chose to write a memoir and the steps I took to put it all down on paper, which in some instances reflect what some of these books recommend but more often than not are my own, individual take on their advice. In fact, my advice to anyone interested in writing a memoir is to read those how-to books and then develop your own guidelines. Don’t feel  tied to what worked for someone else.  We are all different. We absorb life in various ways. And how we write reflects who we are.  If someone tells you to do an outline of every chapter in your memoir first, and that’s not the way you work best, then don’t do it. It will only constrict your creativity. I hope you will learn by my journey, which includes mistakes I made as well. Besides giving you an account on how I wrote my memoir, which by the way is now in the hands of my agent being submmitted to editors,  my blog will offer links to writers who have written about memoirs as well as recommend memoirs that have inspired me.

My first recommendation of a memoir that is awe-inspiring is Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. I will not say anything more now about this Irish-American author’s book because I want to hear what you thought of it, if you’ve read it already, or what you think of it, once you rush to the nearest bookstore, library or e-book app and order a copy. On my next blog we can discuss it further.

31 thoughts on “writing a memoir

  1. I recently finished a manuscript for my memoir and is now being submitted by my agent to various editors. I have started a blog that will deal with writing a memoir. I hope you will all visit and give me your comments.

  2. Tio, what a wonderful first post. I read Angela’s Ashes about 10 years ago and it has still stuck with me today. I remember Frank McCourt’s vivid descriptions of both the utter poverty, yet sheer joy of his childhood in Ireland. Thanks for reminding me how memoir can unleash the poet in all of us.

  3. Lorenzo: Artist, Musician, Patron of the Arts, Cook, Generous and Loving Friend, Story Teller and now writer! I’ve always been impressed with your many talents and now I will hear the story of how that need to reach out and touch the world to express your soul began. There are four major areas of life as I see it – Health, Wealth, Love and Self-Expression – your life, as I know it, illustrates the joy and heartbreak involved in your experience in each of these areas. Although I’ve had the pleasure of your friendship for many years, I’m sure there will still be a lot of surprises awaiting me when I start reading your memoir. I know the book you produce will be rich and fulfilling and I look forward to a good read from a good friend that I have known and respected for many many years.

  4. Lorenzo,
    Having had a sneak peek at a few parts of the manuscript, in its very early stages, I can’t wait to see the paths it has taken as, in your hands, it has grown and developed. I know how hard you have worked on this and look forward to the day when we all toast the book in its debut appearance in the world.

  5. Dear Lorenzo,
    As a family member who has loved you since the first day we met you have always been a part of my thoughts and wishes. As you traveled through life the past few years it has been difficult to know exactly what you have lived through. Your wonderful story telling ability will allow me to feel ever closer to you as I will follow this journey and be inspired through your words and wonderful descriptions. I look forward with great anticipation to be able to read about YOUR life through YOUR words. I would like to encourage you to read your memoirs on tape so others like me who do not have the ability to actually see the print can HEAR YOUR WORDS through your voice and to become as inspired and motivated as I am.

  6. Having only enjoyed your company briefly in South Orange, I am so thrilled to follow your process and progress! Thank you for sharing!

  7. On the journey of life, we can expect many detours. This wonderful memoir is a road that others can experience through a remarkable journey inward; a transformation that touches the heart. Gracias, dear Lorenzo. Your debut is sweet, indeed!

    xoxo Shawn Grain Carter

  8. The journey of life offers many detours. Your memoir shares a taste of profound awakenings that touch the soul. Thank you Lorenzo for sharing each experience with depth and wisdom. This is a remarkable debut.

    xoxo Shawn Grain Carter

  9. Angela’s Ashes: A tough read, having to remember it is NOT fiction. But, That is what makes a good memoir, no gloves!

  10. Lorenzo:
    Your blog post reminded me of a book I read years ago by author William Zinsser, On Writing Well. I concur that writing, good writing, can be stifled when we try to edit ourselves too much during the process. Finding our own narrative trajectory can be disconcerting at best…thus, I am truly looking forward to your thoughts and experiences surrounding this process. Bravo on your courage to put pen to paper. Memoirs speak not only of travesty, but also of forgiveness. Perhaps your blog and memoir will serve to inspire my muse! All the best!

    Devon Reimers

  11. What a delicious appetizer your writing is so far — we look forward to the rest of the courses with eager anticipation. You truly have a unique perspective and way of expressing it.
    Whereas many memoirs have a one dimensional story, yours is quite multi-dimensional — not only the extraordinary events of your life, but the way you interpret, deal with, see and describe them through your own gifted mind will undoubtedly give us new insights and inspirations about our own lives.
    Excitedly looking forward to reading more. Bravo!

  12. So pleased to see all these warm, supportive signs of interst – an amazing start to your writing life and new career!


  13. How wonderful that you are going to share your exciting life story! Can’t wait to get my hands on a hard copy. (You can tell I’m over 80)
    Much love, Joanie

  14. Lorenzo,
    After taking writing class together over a year ago, your poetic stories of family life on the island of Cuba are the ones that still resonate in me. The lyrical stories of your family, your Abuelita’s porch, of playing and listening to music in her home, all took me back to my own childhood days. You took me from the highest of happy moments, to the low moments that no human should endure. I remember cursing you at one time after reading one of your stories, because I wanted to know more, and you weren’t telling. I can hardly wait until your book finally comes out and the bits and pieces you shared with us can become the full story. Everyone I’ve talked to wants to know more about Pedro Pan. I know it’s going to be an important book, especially for Hispanics like us. Thanks for being my friend.

    David Bazan

  15. Although we were both Pedro Panes at Camp Matecumbe in Miami Dade in Florida at the same time, I remember you from when we were at Washington State University in Pullman. You were a concert pianist at the time and I was in Engineering school. I became a good friend of your brother Roberto and visited your family frequently. I remember that after a year you graduated and left for NY in pursue of your fortune, which apparently have brought you to this point in your life. I do congratulate you in your success and look forward to your writings. I wonder what stories you will tell about me. HP

  16. Hi Lorenzo, Antilla’m also always follow what happens there, I like the people, history and all that has to do with it. Well although I left there very young, I am 100% Antillean. Now I live in Spain.
    I wonder how I can get your book once it is published and released. Has been the subject of my interest Peter Pan in Cuba have televised reports based on this.
    A pleasure to address you THROUGH YOUR blog.
    I wish you success in the project.
    A hug, Ysabel Cortes.

  17. Dear Brother, growing up with you as you twin sister was a challenge! You could do anything. Y wanted to be you. I wanted to play the piano, I wanted to design dresses I wanted to draw like you did. I am so proud of you! You had quite a journey and I was glad that I was part of it!!!!!

    Can’t wait to read your book!



  18. Lorenzo… I am so excited about reading your book. Your insights on your past at a very difficult time in the world. (cold war) Your experience with the Cuban/US Dynamic and as immigrant as a young man, making your way without your family, is very compelling to me. I love history and a memoir of that time and your personal account, is a quick read to me.
    Also, I appreciate your passing on your knowledge, on how to write a memoir. Someday….in the future…I may have a book of my own! Looking forward to reading more.

    Tom McCauley

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