Review by Angela Eckhart
We all have stories to tell, yet we are not limited to simply performing or writing these stories. Other interests that engage us, such as knitting or cooking, can help in portraying our personal stories. The Memoir Roundtable, a group of six writers and crafters, produced a book offering some creative ways to tell our life stories. Memoir Your Way: Tell Your Story Through Writing, Recipes, Quilts, Graphic Novels, and More (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016) is a basic guidebook in exploring various outlets in which to depict our stories.
The first two chapters offer an introduction memoir: what it entails, how to select specific memories to reveal. The subsequent chapters offer specific ways to tell a story; for example, chapter 3 suggests using food and recipes to preserve a story, while chapter 6 shows stories through picture quilts. Each chapter contains specific examples and photographs of projects, which may help generate further ideas. It is easy to jump around from one self-contained chapter to another.
For the novice storyteller (and the authors specifically note for “those who don’t see themselves as writers”), this is a great beginner’s book, as some chapters offer step-by-step instructions on how to begin certain projects. However, for seasoned writers and crafters, especially those who use computers regularly, this extra information could be bypassed, such as the 4-page description on how to write a recipe and produce the layout.
This book is a reminder that “writing” a memoir does not need to be tedious. It can be creative and fun and, with the help of technology, relatively quick and quite simple. Memoir Your Way is not a guide to getting your memoir published; rather, it’s a “how to” guide for creating a memorable story in various ways. Although the ideas expressed in this book cover those talents of its contributors, there are many other mediums that could be explored, such as a photography book or even a collection of paintings, depending upon the talents of the individual.
The best part about this book is that it offers quick and easy tips on how to tell a story, especially for those who do not wish to spend a lot of time writing a complete memoir. Additionally, this resource can spark other storytelling ideas to explore further. Appendix A, “Getting Over Your Fear of Writing” is a motivating article that you can read several times if getting started seems difficult. This section could stand out on its own, in fact, and be especially useful in a writing classroom. There’s a chapter devoted to helping children create and preserve their memories, and this can be a great way for parents and their kids, or even teachers and students, to spend time together.
Memoir Your Way can be a great resource for crafting groups as well as in the study of genealogy, writing, or it could be adapted to other fields of study. Anyone who has a story to share could find this book inspiring… and lead them to create something beautiful.
Angela earned her master of arts in creative writing from Wilkes University under the tutelage of Kaylie Jones and John Bowers. She lives below Blue Mountain in a log home with her husband and numerous pets, and she works for the Pennsylvania State Police under the Bureau of Forensics. In her spare time, she indulges in books, films, and making art. She and her retired husband enjoy annual trips to Aruba and four-wheeling through the mountains of Ohio. Maybe someday she'll get the courage to submit her stories.
On staff since 2011
Angela previously served as a reviewer for Hippocampus for a number of years before moving into the editor role. She's also on the conference operations committee.