As you probably gathered from last week’s post where I talked about how I’m going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this July, I’m driven. I want to finish a rough draft of my memoir in July. (I’m technically pledging to write 50,000 words in the month of July.) So because I’m so focused on that particular goal, this month’s book recommendation is memoir focused and not traditional. Instead of just discussing one book that I’ve just finished, I’m going to discuss several books about memoirs and writing that I am using as reference as I compose my own memoir. None of these books are specifically about brain injury. I have several like that and have been recommended even more. However I don’t really want to muddy how I tell my brain injury story. So I’m waiting until I’m done writing my memoir to read those. Instead these books I’m discussing today are about the writing process and some are specifically about writing memoir.
I took to Twitter a few weeks ago and hounded the people in the #WritingCommunity for recommendations on books to read with tips on writing memoir. I got a few recommendations and they all were great. These four I’m going to discuss were the primary ones I referred to before Camp NaNoWriMo started.
The books I’m referring to for tips on writing and memoir writing are as follows:
The Art of the Memoir by Mary Karr: Karr is well-known for her New York Times Bestselling (For a Year) memoir The Liars’ Club (1995). She’s also written additional memoirs (Cherry  and Lit ).
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Ann LaMott: LaMott is a novelist and writer who was featured in a documentary with the same name as her memoir.
On Writing by Stephen King: King is obviously a well-known author and this memoir is not specifically about writing a memoir. However it is a memoir and gives advice about writing. I liked that he kind of looked at his life through the lens of writing. It was upon his recommendation in this book that I found Mary Karr and her books.
Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg: This was recommended via my Twitter question (books to read on writing memoir). I love the title because it’s so descriptive of what it’s like combing through memories to write a memoir. Only I have the added complication of a brain injury and a coma. So mine is more like “Old Tattered Stranger From Far Away.” Goldberg is most known for her book Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (1986) which is credited with changing the way writing is taught in the United States (a book I haven’t read but am going to).
I’m not really going to review these books or talk more specifically about them at this time because I’m still reading them and actively using them as guides and inspiration for my memoir. Once I complete writing my memoir I will then start actually reading memoirs about brain injury (and I’m sure I will post about them at that time).
Before I started this incredible collection of memoir-related books, I went to the Internet (as I often do) to find tips on writing a memoir. I found this great site and ended up using her tip for creating lists in order to generate stories and memories. It also helped me develop an outline.
So Camp NaNoWriMo has officially started (July 1). It runs the entire month of July. And Camp is a little less structured than NaNoWriMo in November. In November you pledge to write 100,000 words in the month of November (which they equate to a novel). In Camp NaNoWriMo you don’t have to commit to writing a novel (I’ve heard of people doing screenplays, collected short stories, essays, memoirs or even blogs). You also don’t have to commit to a word count as your goal. It can be a number of hours instead. I have committed to 50,000 words. And since I was already working on my memoir informally, I have 9,151 words going into Camp NaNoWriMo. As is the case with NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo is just a motivational website with an online community that’s spawned out of it. By signing up for NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo you don’t have to submit your writing anywhere. Your writing is still yours. That’s why I like it. It’s inspiring and motivational without being a commitment.
So this wasn’t really a book recommendation, per se, but it was a writing update and book recommendations all rolled into one. I have a feeling July will kind of be like that (dominated by my writing) because of Camp NaNoWriMo. And because this camp is virtual it will be far less smelly than the horse 🐎 camp I attended when I was 14. 💩🤣🤣🤣
Wish me luck in Camp NaNoWriMo! #amwriting