A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Write Your Memoir . Right Now. says today's guest Dana Sitar

Dana Sitar from http://danasitar.com/   

 Write Your Memoir. Right Now.
I never intended to be a writer. It was never my dream as a child, or in high school, or in college. I didn't study English or Creative Writing, or anything else that would lead me down this path. What I have always done is keep a journal. Since I was 11 years old, I have compulsively documented my life with no purpose or intention.

When I finally gave in to the drive that was always lurking deep inside to pursue writing professionally, I naturally turned to those journals for material. I started to turn old journal entries into blog posts and stories, and I started to keep my journal with me at all times to record everything that might possibly become a story.

I wasn't even trying to be autobiographical. I was just writing stories based on the greatest inspiration I could find: my life. But, when I decided to publish my first book, a collection of those stories, I realized that to call them fiction was not only inaccurate, it was confusing and didn't do the book justice. So, I call this book a memoir in short stories.

I felt a little silly at first telling people that my series was a memoir, because I'm only 25 years old. I've gotten over it, though, realizing through conversations with other writers that I've hit a nerve with the idea. Memoir doesn't have to be about digging through old journals and photo albums and piecing together memories of a life lived long ago. It doesn't have to include the wisdom you've gained with age, or your attempts to understand something that happened in your youth. It can just be your story. As it is. Right now.

Finding a story.


Bio

Dana Sitar is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger in the San Francisco Bay Area, and author of the ongoing memoir series This Artists' Life. She shares writing tips and anecdotes at her blog by.dana.sitar (http://danasitar.com).

Links in text:

I never intended to be [a writer]: http://danasitar.com
[my first book]: http://amzn.to/ShitShow


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19 comments:

Laura said...

What an inspirational woman! I love the idea of documenting and then turning all that material into 'memoir' short stories... and thanks for all the links - I'll be off to check them out later. So glad to have found this blog.
Laura x

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Good for you! When I was your age, I didn't "see" all the stories of my life. I thought my life had been boring. At 55, I was able to pull all the small stuff of life into my writing. It took me a LONG time to see what you see at 25. I envy you that gift, and you should be proud of yourself for using it.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Reading this post is so encouraging. What a smart young lady!

Thank you, Lee, for this wonderful guest post!

Doris

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dana .. you certainly are doing the right thing and your memories will be there for the future. I too would like to have started earlier - but I wasn't a writer .. and have only become so later in life.

Enjoy the process and have fun with the memories now and in the future ..

Cheers - lovely meeting you here at Lee's Memoir blog .. Hilary

SherryE said...

I think it's great that you are writing your memories. That's really not an easy thing to do. I know a woman who is trying to do that, and she says it's difficult to keep it true and not reveal things that might be hurtful to other family members. I wonder if sometimes it's easier to fictionalize memoirs.

danasitar.com said...

Oh, I wish I could reply to everyone individually! Thank you everyone for reading and for such great words!

@SherryE - I think it IS easier to fictionalize memoirs, a little. It's also usually necessary to some extent, for the story's sake. More than the facts, I think that the essence of the story is what's important in memoir.

Susan Kane said...

Good for you! Everyone should be aware how unique they are, their life is, and how important it is to be observant of life around. I wish I had journaled more at age 25!

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Great post and congrats on your memoir writing. They do say write what you know and that is exactly what memoirs are aren't they?
I so wish I could have kept a journal, but I had a close relative who stole my diaries and punished me for what I wrote in them and I found it rather inhibiting to my writing for many years afterwards. Last year I wrote a flash piece for a blog fest which used this experience though with the diary theft. http://scribbleandedit.blogspot.com/2011/01/no-fear-blogfest.html

Arlee Bird said...

Thank you Dana for your unique take on the memoir topic. Stay with us here as this post will be up all week and may be getting more comments.

My thanks to all of the readers who stopped by to leave a comment.

Lee

Misha Gericke said...

That's so true. I always think that I'll write a memoir one day, but you're right, writing one now is just as valid. :-)

Dee Ready said...

Dear Dana,
Thank you for assuring people of all ages that they have stories to tell, a life to share. Thus, I think, do we reach across to one another to form the Holy Oneness of All Creation.

Peace.

Arlee Bird said...

Thanks for the great post, Dana. And thanks to all who left a comment.

Lee

Shannon Lawrence said...

Great guest post, thanks! You make a very good point. Everyone has a story (or stories) to tell, and it doesn't have to be phenomenal, it just has to touch a nerve in someone else.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 A-to-Z Challenge!

V. Furnas said...

I agree we all have a story to tell. Unfortunately my motto is more about procrastination...some how my journal was always last on the list. It would have provided such a great resource to me as a writer.

Loved the post. I found you via A to Z.

Dana Sitar said...

Thank you all for your comments! And thanks, Lee, for having me. I look forward to stopping by Wrote by Rote again soon.

theartistrycollective said...

I believe it's never too early or too late to write your life stories! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Ana

LK Watts said...

Hi Dana,

Looks like we have both done a similar thing with our lives and we're the same sort of age too!

Arlee Bird said...

Ana -- And that's the precise point of this blog! Thanks for visiting.

LK-- Better to start writing when one is young and not saddled with too many excess responsibilities. Good for you.

Lee

Ann Best said...

Glad I'm blogging today and found this! I'm in the old-age memoir category, published at age 71, so I'm really eager to see what you wrote, Dana, at age 25! I just downloaded the book. (I'm keep starting so many books! I need to concentrate on reading from beginning to end. I never used to do this with print books!!)

Journals, you say. That reminded me...I spent a summer in San Diego when I was 20, in 1960, and I kept a diary/journal that I still have. I hadn't thought about "writing" about that summer, but now I'm thinking about it, thanks to your guest post! (I have wished I had kept more such journals over the years, and not been so spotty with it. KEEP JOURNALS!)

Thanks for hosting Dana, Lee!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs