A Writer's Guide to Memoir
By Sue William Silverman
(University of Georgia Press, Paperback, 9780820331669, 256pp.)
Publication Date: June 2009
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Everyone has a story to tell. Fearless Confessions is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper--or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.
The rise of interest in memoir recognizes the power of the genre to move and affect not just individual readers but society at large. Sue William Silverman covers traditional writing topics such as metaphor, theme, plot, and voice and also includes chapters on trusting memory and cultivating the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces--from family members to the media--who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts and views remain silent.
Silverman, an award-winning memoirist, draws upon her own personal and professional experience to provide an essential resource for transforming life into words that matter. Fearless Confessions is an atlas that contains maps to the remarkable places in each person's life that have yet to be explored.
Sue William Silverman is a faculty advisor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the associate editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. Her first book, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You (Georgia), received the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the author of Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction (made into a Lifetime TV movie) and Hieroglyphics in Neon, a collection of poems.
"If you are writing a memoir, read Fearless Confessions. There are some things that can't be taught in a book, but Sue William Silverman teaches you everything that can be! The author of two stunning memoirs herself, she breaks down the complex weaving of a story into discrete elements, such as detail, voice, and plot, with clear, useful guidance on each aspect. Invaluable!"--Ellen Bass, author of The Human Line
"Fearless Confessions is such a dynamic guide to memoir writing it has inspired me to completely refine and retool the memoir I’m working on. Sue William Silverman, a faculty advisor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, is an amazing master of the language. Her prose is as enjoyable as it is instructive. This should be an essential textbook of any creative writing course. She gives examples of memoir pieces and analyzes each one, showing how they work, why they're powerful, and even why some fail to impress."--15 Minutes Magazine
"I dutifully recommend Lamott's Bird by Bird, Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and King's On Writing to my students each term, but I find that I'm particularly excited to inform them of Silverman's new book. Her writing has a tone that's both accessible to readers and uncompromising in its rigorous investigation of what makes for compelling memoir."--The Writer Magazine
Fearless Confessions is a must. I love the way Sue William Silverman exposes the process she used in creating her much acclaimed Love Sick—its struggles, exposures, and empowerment—to teach. A masterful nonfiction writer, Silverman uses her story to guide readers through their own process: how to grasp the use of the senses, mimetic detail, scene, and much more. Her discussion of the Voice of Innocence and the Voice of Experience is sure to become a classic. This book is truly indispensable."--Suzanne Paola, coauthor of Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction
"Sue William Silverman has yet again written a book that needs to be written, in this case an indispensable guide to the writing of memoir, especially those we might deem 'confessional.' The confessional has long held a vaunted though sometimes controversial place in Western literature, and Silverman not only redeems the value of confession artistically but quite pragmatically gives the novice a means of giving voice to what was previously jumbled and ineffable."--Robin Hemley, author of Do-Over!
"I've wanted a book like this for the courses I teach on memoir and am looking forward to putting it to good use. Silverman's Fearless Confessions is a valuable guide not only for students and teachers but also for those outside the academy who are interested in writing memoir but are uncertain of how to begin."--Janet Mason Ellerby, author of Following the Tambourine Man: A Birthmother's Memoir
"Fearless Confessions demonstrates the range of Silverman's voice, which is conversational and engaging throughout, never lapsing into the dry instruction-manual voice that could have endangered this book . . . Fearless Confessions provides a guide not only to students, emerging writers, and faculty members who teach memoir writing but also to more established writers interested in exploring the genre. Writers will find lessons and examples that they can use, from the first words of their stories-Silverman's 'first bite'-and onward."--Prairie Schooner