More on Memoir

I promised more on Memoir today. I also said I was joining a Blog Tour, but actually my post for the Tour is NEXT Monday. Here is the link to my friend Sandra Warren’s blog for today: http://sandrawarrenwrites.blogspot.com/

As I said before, the first thing to do in writing a memoir is to read and discover how other authors tell their stories. Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos was one of my favoirtes. Gantos has a great quote by Oscar Wilde in the front pages of his book that reads: “I have learned this: It is not what one does that is wrong, it is what one becomes as a consequence of it.”

I loved that Gantos told the truth in such a friendly conversational style. For example, at the end of the first chapter and the beginning of chapter 2, Gantos writes: “Someone once said anyone can be great under rosy circumstances, but the true test of character is measured by how well a person makes decisions during difficult times. I certainly believe this to be true. I made a lot of mistakes, and went to jail, but I wasn’t on the road to ruin like everybody said. While I was locked up, I pulled myself together and made some good choices.

“Like any book about mistakes and redemption (Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is my favorite), the mistakes are the most interesting to read about (and write about)—so I’ll start with where I think I went around the bend.”

“Chapter 2 – I was nineteen, still stuck in high school, and not living at home.”

Isn’t that a great hook?

Then in the last chapter of the book, Gantos concludes: “In my writing classes, I first wrote brutal stories about prison, about New York street life, about the men I knew who had hard lives and hard hearts. And then one day I got tired of all the blood and guts and hard lives and hard hearts and began to write more stories about my childhood, like the ones I had started writing down in prison—stories which at one time I did not think were important, but suddenly had become to me the most important stories of all. They contained the hidden days of my innocence and happiness. And once I began retrieving the lost pleasures of my childhood, I began to write stories for children. And I laughed about that, too. Prison certainly wasn’t funny, but with each new day it was receding into my past. The mistakes I made, the pain I endured, the time I wasted were now the smallest part of me. . . .

“What remains of the rotted hash is hidden in the hole I dug for it. And I’m out in the open doing what I have always wanted to do. Write.”

Maybe one of the reasons I liked Gantos’ book so much is because he always wanted to write books and in the end he did. He has written books for adults, as well as for children, including the Newbery Medal and Scott O’Dell Award winning Dead End in Norvelt. Check out his website at http://www.jackgantos.com/

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