I was browsing Amazon last week when I stumbled across Beth Kephart's Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir. I downloaded it to my Kindle, read it, and loved it.
That's how I found myself at Rosemont College last weekend, listening to Kephart, Linda Jo Myers and others talk about the art of writing.
Kephart posits that writing memoir requires careful deliberation. Good memoirs, in other words, doesn't arise from some perfect blend of circumstances. They're born of study and practice, conscious choices and calculated efforts. From voice to verb tense to sensory details, no decision is made without thoughtful consideration.
The idea is empowering to me. So often, good books seem like a magic trick—a sleight of hand, conjuring imagery and emotion and layered motifs. But looking at it from Kephart's perspective makes the work accessible again. Accessible, and maybe even achievable.
If the memoir summit sounds like something you'd enjoy, check out Kephart's lecture on the Free Library Podcast. Listening to it was almost as good as seeing her in person.