If living is an art, it must be practiced with diligence before being done with ease. Yet almost nothing in our culture prepares us for reflection on the great themes of existence: courage, friendship, listening, dignitythose everyday virtues that can transform our world. Because AARP believes it’s never too late (or too early) to learn, they, together with Sterling Publishing, have created the About Living series to address these crucial issues. Each entry will be written by only the best authors and thinkers.
Thinking About Memoir, the first of these volumes, helps adults look back at their past and use writing as a means of figuring out who they used to be and how they became who they are today. It’s written by Abigail Thomas, whose own memoir A Three Dog Life was selected as one of the Best Books of 2006 by the LA Times and the Washington Post and called perfectly honed” (Newsweek), bracingly honest” (Vanity Fair), and stunning” by the Los Angeles Book Review. Thomas writes that memoir can consist of looking back at a single summer or the span of a whole life. Through her experience as a writing teacher, she knows how difficult that can be; this book is about the habit of writing as a way to keep track of what’s going on in the front and the back of your mind. It inspires different ways for us to look at the moment we’re in right now and will help would-be memoirists find their own side door” into a subject. Thomas writes eloquently about how to get started and find that jumping-off point for your work, and provides exercises that liberate our creativity, enable us to get the distance and perspective we need, and open our eyes to possibilities that may not at first seem obvious.
Whether your words are for publication, for your loved ones, or for you alone, Thomas makes the process fulfilling, thoughtful, and even fun.