workshop photoMemoir teaches us to look beyond ourselves at the same time writing down and honoring our past takes us inward. During this journey, we start seeing patterns and we making connections that invite compassion and empathy towards others. We reflect upon our lives and decisions. We create a legacy.


I want to help others preserve their memories so no one’s left wondering: what happened between your birth and death dates? Writing down the past provides a link, like a rope between the past and the future. Some people want to capture their stories to give something real and tangible to their grandchildren; others want to feel that their life meant and means something. We become part of something bigger and this is especially apparent when we write about something so personal in our lives and it touches a total stranger.


Writing your memoirs can also teach you to stop cycles of abuse and give logic to highly charged emotions. Writing down your memoirs may not eliminate family secrets but it can create reckoning and growth. Memoir writing helps you control something in the present you weren’t able to control in the past and that’s why it’s so powerful.


I think it’s a shame that we cannot be witness to so many of our grandparents’ lives because they didn’t leave a record for their descendants. For instance, I hardly know anything about my French grandmother, who was born in 1895, and died in 1995. She was my namesake. I know she could sew and cook and lost three brothers (or was it an uncle in WWI in Northern France?) but I don’t even know what she looked like before the age of 50. She didn’t like to have her picture taken and my mother told me she burned all of her younger photos because she didn’t want anyone making fun of the clothes she wore back in the day.


On the other hand, my father’s father kept meticulous records and I have many of his framed ship postcards and ship paintings hanging in our house. He was a retired naval captain who commanded a ship in the Pacific during WWII and served in Bremerhaven after the war. On the backs of the postcards and photos he lists where/when and who and sometimes why. Grandpa was a nonfiction writer who wrote for Naval Proceedings and in later years for the Op-Ed section of his local paper in Annapolis, MD. Because of Grandpa Osborn I have my childhood photos of me at age 3 and 5 from his mantle. Also on his mantle was a photo of my parents on their wedding day—this is noteworthy because my parents didn’t display any of their wedding pictures in our house. I wrote about this discrepancy in a memoir poem which speaks volumes about their marriage.    


And if you’re ready to start on your memoirs, I have just the class for you! If you ACT NOW you can save $50 off the registration price of $200.


Memoir: The Next Level with Alice Osborn
Location: Center for Excellence, 3803‐B Computer Dr. Ste. 106 Raleigh NC 27609
Thursday, Jan 16 to Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 (Class meets for 6 Thursdays)
Time: 11:30am—1:30pm—Bring your lunch!
Tuition: Early Bird $149 (Till Dec 31st)/ $200 After
Additional editing package is $250, Tuition includes two 10-min accountability phone chats.

Register here: 

Have you completed Alice’s Beginning Memoir Workshop Series and wish to continue? Or have you started working on your memoir and now wonder what is the next step? Get on track with Memoir: The Next Level with Alice Osborn where you’ll have in-class writing exercises and feedback to help you construct your memoir and build upon your foundation. Move forward in the direction you want to go by creating a memoir that will dazzle your readers. This class is best-suited for writers who have previous writing experience or who have been working on their memoirs. Participants bring their own lunch and there’ll be a half hour lunch break. Your tuition includes two 10-min accountability phone chats and if you’d like Alice to edit your memoir pages during the class, consider purchasing the $250 editing package (valued at $800).




After having taught memoir for over six years I’ve compiled some Memoir FAQ to help you write your memoir!


Memoir FAQ


What is a Memoir?


Memoir is a “true” story, as opposed to a fictional one and it is also writing that provides storytelling techniques which have a distinct voice and style.  While memoir should be true, it is more important that the writing be emotionally true because the writer needs to recreate experience for the reader.  In this case, the writer may want to take some creative liberties (characters may be condensed, dialogue invented or timelines can be compressed for the sake of the true story). Memoir can be used to flush things out for the writer and it can also serve as a reckoning. In this reckoning, the writer must take into account all of the good, bad and ugly events and circumstances in her life and have them make sense for the reader. One of the greatest challenges for the writer is for the writer to make her story universal and emotionally full. For instance, a writer knows she has succeeded if she writes about her own experiences at the hand of a bully or of her body issues and her words touch another person. She may also know she has succeeded if she feels uncomfortable, yet emboldened to keep going while writing her story.


Is there any particular person that should consider creating a memoir?


No—everyone should write a memoir! And you don’t have to be “older”

Because you have a story to tell and no one else on earth has your experiences or your voice.



Why do people consider creating memoirs?


Because you want to bear witness to what’s going on in your world and give your own perspective to global events.


Memoir can be a very healing process and it can help the writer make sense of her past. From the reader’s point of view, reading someone else’s memoir can help sort out feelings and issues.



What is involved in creating a memoir?


Jotting down turning points in your life, fleshing out characters, major conflicts that made you who you are today. Stories that will touch your reader.


Some writers write down their stories in a chronological way and others use a system of what happened that changed their life. I believe that once you have a few stories down (perhaps 30 pages) it’s a good idea to work on an outline


When you’re ready to publish it traditionally agents want you to supply them with a query letter, table of contents, chapter summary and outline, bio and market research of how your book stands out from other similar books on the market—who is your target audience?


How long does it take to create a memoir?


Sometimes if the writer is ultra motivated, a year from draft to agent-ready draft. You might want to give yourself more time than that, but perhaps these chapter ideas have been percolating in your head for a long time.


How do I balance writing freely from my perspective vs. being “fair”/giving a balanced perspective?

You do this by showing the good qualities as well as the bad qualities of the other person. You also state your own good/bad qualities so the reader knows that you are a credible author and aren’t completely biased against the other person.
What about notification of people written about– when is it appropriate to get permission, give notification, allow input/edits, or change names/details?


You don’t need to get permission from anyone who is in your memoir, but you can do so out of courtesy. You are allowed to change names and compress characters so the guilty are protected—you will have a space in the book’s front matter to tell readers about this. My advice is to write out your memoir, making sure you have blocked out all of your editors and censors, those being your family and close friends who may doubt your abilities or may not want their story shared. If you let them edit your work, you have snuffed out your creativity and have let them win. Now, after you are revising your memoir, you can always let family read over your work to see if you they offer you a better perspective. Most families are cool on this, especially if you have been fair with their good/bad qualities. But if you come from a dysfunctional family, you won’t get this reception and then the name-changing becomes more important!


Your Turn

Have you considered writing your memoirs? The best thing to do is to just jump in!