How to Write a Memoir … “be yourself, speak freely, think small … writers are the custodians of memory”; old classic – William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well”; “Mud Season Review” call for submissions

“I find that the writing of a memoir has two functions. One is to pass on, as much as you’re willing to tell, the fact’s and deeds of your life to those who might be at all interested. The other function is to discover a truth about yourself that you never had either the time or the courage to face before. You will never investigate yourself as vehemently as you do when you put one word after another, one thought after another, one revelation after another, in the pages that make up your memoirs, and you will suddenly realize the person you are instead of the person you thought you were. To force memory is to open yourself up to that which you have chosen to forget. It’s your RASHOMON. You begin to see all the different sides of your own story.” Neil Simon, The Play Goes On, A Memoir



William Zinsser (1922-2015), American writer, teacher, editor, literary and film critic, feature writer for the New York Herald Tribune

William Zinsser (1922-2015), American writer, teacher, editor, literary and film critic, feature writer for the now defunct New York Herald Tribune

Not too long ago a friend mentioned the wish to write a memoir. In the senior community in which I live there are several people working on their memoirs in a class called Personal Stories. I think this is fabulous. There are any number of reasons for writing a memoir and generally it’s not about publication. It’s about personal exploration and/or leaving a record behind for our children and grandchildren. Hence this post is for everyone, not just for pro writers or those with ambitions to be pro writers.

While searching for some material to share that might be helpful, I happened upon this feature by William Zinsser of On Writing Well fame in The American Scholar, Spring 2006. I think my friend and neighbors are not the only ones who would be interested, so here it is for you too:

One of the saddest sentences I know is “I wish I had asked my mother about that.” Or my father. Or my grandmother. Or my grandfather. As every parent knows, our children are not as fascinated by our fascinating lives as we are. Only when they have children of their own—and feel the first twinges of their own advancing age—do they suddenly want to know more about their family heritage and all its accretions of anecdote and lore. “What exactly were those stories my dad used to tell about coming to America?” “Where exactly was that farm in the Midwest where my mother grew up?” MORE

RELATED:

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On Writing Well, The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction is not without problems. It does however have its virtues. Originally published in 1976, it was a book of the month club selection. In the early days of my career it was always recommended to young writers along with The Elements of Style. I believe On Writing Well is now in its twelfth printing.

At the time of Zinsser’s death in 2015, 1.5 million copies were sold.   If you haven’t read On Writing Well, you might enjoy and even benefit from checking it out. Newer editions are reworked to include contemporary concerns: technology, diverse cultures, and demographics.

If you are a mature writer still struggling to find your voice, it might give you hope and comfort to know that in his biography Zinsser said that he didn’t find his writer-voice until his 50s.


MUD SEASON REVIEW is accepting poetry, fiction and nonfiction for consideration through deadline November 1st. No submission fee. Paying market.  Details HERE.


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

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SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Competitions, and Other News and Information

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” Ray Bradbury



CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

COMMONWEALTH WRITERS sponsors an annual short-fiction in English prize and is open for entries through November 1, 2018. Demographic restrictions. No entry fee. Cash award. Details HERE.

CUTTHROAT, a journal of the arts, Worlds into words into Worlds, will accept submissions of through October 30, 2018, ten days from this posting, for an anthology of Chicanx writing to be published in 2019. Of interest: poetry, essay, short stories, memoir, flash fiction. Details HERE.

THE FIDDLEHEAD is open through November 30 for poetry and will open for fiction and nonfiction in January. “We particularly welcome submissions from Indigenous writers, writers of colour, writers with disabilities, LGBTQQIA+ writers, and writers from other intersectional and under-represented communities. If you are comfortable identifying yourself as one or more of the above, please feel free to mention this in your cover letter.”  Details HERE.

FOGLIFTER JOURNAL is open for submissions of poetry, prose, cross-genre work, text-image hybids, and drama through December 1st in preparation for their spring issue.  No submission fees. Details HERE.

GHANA WRITES LITERARY GROUP has an open call for submissions of poetry to be considered for a special anthology, Bodies and Scars. Demographic restrictions. Deadline: October 30, 2018. Details HERE.

HER STORY MATTERS, the journey of a woman is collecting personal stories about gender indifference. Details HERE.

HerSTRY, Empowering Women Through Storytelling says, “Telling your story is a revolutionary act.” Personal stories are invited. Details HERE. (scroll down)

THE SUN MAGAZINE Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free. A reader-supported publication, this magazine publishes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. “We tend to favor personal writing, but we’re also looking for provocative pieces on political and cultural issues.” Paying market. No submission fee. Details HERE.

THE WALRUS is an independent publication and, according to its site, a registered nonprofit in Canada that is “invested in the idea that a health society relies on informed citizens.” This magazine is open for submissions of short essays, long narrative journalistic pieces (query first), and arts and culture. Online publication includes fiction and poetry. Details HERE.

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SIXFOLD

an opportunity to get feedback on your work

I often get requests to read and critique poetry and short stories.  I don’t have that kind of free time and it’s not something for which I have any passion, which makes me your worst option ….

However, for those of you who’d like some feedback on your stories and poems, I think you might find Sixfold offers a workable and rather unique solution.  I haven’t played with it myself (it’s on my to-do list), but I like the sound of it. Writers and readers vote on and critique stories. Check it out. The entry fee is just $5, not unreasonable.  There are cash awards for best story and best poem. The deadline for the current round is: October 24th. If you have something ready to go, now’s your chance. Details HERE.


REMINDERS:

The Poet by Day

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Response deadline is Monday, October 22, at 8 p.m. Pacific. Poems on theme are published on this site on Tuesday, the October 23. Details HERE.

 

The BeZine

Call for submissions for the December issue.

THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be. Submissions for the December issue – themed A Life of the Spirit – close on November 10 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific .

Please send text in the body of the email not as an attachment. Send photographs or illustrations as attachments. No google docs or Dropbox or other such. No rich text. Send submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com.

Publication is December 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration.

No demographic restrictions.

Please read at least one issue. We DO NOT publish anything that promotes hate, divisiveness or violence or that is scornful or in any way dismissive of “other” peoples. 

  • December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.

Previously published work may be submitted IF you hold the copyright. Submissions from beginning and emerging artists as well as pro are encouraged and we have a special interest in getting more submissions of short stores, feature articles, music videos and art for consideration. 


COMPETITIONS

CUTTHROAT, a journal of the arts, Worlds into words into World has three competitions open for entries at this time: The 2018 Joy Harjo Poetry Award; Barry Lopez Nonfiction Award; and the Rick DeMarinis Short Story Award. These contests are open for submissions through October 31, 2018. First Prize in each genre: $1300 and publication. Second Prize in each genre: $250 and publication. Honorable Mention: Publication. $20 entry fee. Details HERE.

THE FIDDLEHEAD sponsores an annual contest for best short story and best poem with $2,000 awards in each category and $250 for honorable mentions in each category.  Entry fee. Deadline: December 3, 2018. Details HERE.

2019 SONIA SANCHES-LANGSTON HUGHES POETRY CONTEST sponsored by Split Rock as part its commitment to “raise the visibility and prestige of poetry of provocation and witness.” Open for entries through November 1. Cash awards. Publication.  Details HERE.

SOUTHWORD FICTION CHAPBOOK COMPETITION or 10,000-15,000 words “which can consist of a novella, a long short story, several short stories, a collection of lsh fiction, or a mix of stories and flash fiction. Entry fee: 25 Euros. Deadline: October 31, 2018. Two categories: Best Irish Entry and Best International Entry. Cash award and twenty copies of the chapbook. Details HERE.


OTHER INFORMATION and NEWS

Poet, poetry teacher and consultant to Second Light Network of Women Poets

Congratulations to English poet, Myra Schneider, on her new website. Check it out HERE.  Myra’s latest collection is Lifting the Sky (Ward Wood Publishing, 2018). She has published some ten other poetry collections in addition to a book on writing and, early in her career, some young adult novels. 

Zora Neale Hurston, photo by Carl Van Vechten (1938), Public Domain

I so enjoy having my great loves come together: writing/writers and cooking.  Check out this delightful piece in Bon Appétit: Chef Mashama Bailey Honors Zora Neale Hurston With a Southern Feast, Hilary Cadigan. It’s short, savory and charming.

“Zora left the South to support herself, but she never ran away from it. She told real stories of her place. She exploded the reality of Southern living for her time.” Mashama Baile

Prolific Yorkshire Poet, Paul Brookes

FYI: Paul Brookes, a stalwart participant in The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt, is running an ongoing series on poets, Wombwell Rainbow Interviews. Connect with Paul if you’d like to be considered for an interview. Visit him, enjoy the interviews, get introduced to some poets who may be new to you, and learn a few things.

The Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jamie Dedes


Accessible anytime from anywhere in the world:

The Poet by Day always available online with poems, poets and writers, news and information.

The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, online every week (except for vacation) and all are invited to take part no matter the stage of career or status. Poems related to the challenge of the week (always theme based not form based) will be published here on the following Tuesday.

The Poet by Day, Sunday Announcements. Every week (except for vacation) opportunity knocks for poets and writers. Due to other weekend commitments, this post will often go up late.

THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be – always online HERE.  

Beguine Again, daily inspiration and spiritual practice  – always online HERE.  Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine.


YOUR SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS may be emailed to thepoetbyday@gmail.com. Please do so at least a week in advance.

If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:

  • send PDF to jamiededes@gmail.com (Note: I have a backlog of six or seven months, so at this writing I suggest you wait until June 2018 to forward anything.Thank you!)
  • nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
  • nothing violent or encouraging of violence
  • English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
  • your book or other product  should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.

TO CONTACT ME WITH ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION FOR THE POET BY DAY: thepoetbyday@gmail.com

TO CONTACT ME REGARDING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE BeZINE: bardogroup@gmail.com

PLEASE do not mix the communications between the two emails.


Often information is just thatinformation– and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications or other organizations featured in my regular Sunday Announcements or other announcements shared on this site. Awards and contests are often (generally) a means to generate income, publicity and marketing mailing lists for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I rarely attend events anymore. Caveat Emptor: Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.


ABOUT

Testimonials

Disclosure

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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”

* The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

CUTTHROAT, JOURNAL OF THE ARTS, Calls for Submissions/Anthology, 10 days to respond; Competitions; Wednesday Writing Prompt reminder

“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’e working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.” Isaac Asimov



OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

CUTTHROAT, a journal of the arts, Worlds into words into Worlds, will accept submissions of through October 30, 2018, ten days from this posting, for an anthology of Chicanx writing to be published in 2019. Of interest: poetry, essay, short stories, memoir, flash fiction. Details HERE.

CONTESTS open for 11 more days …

  • The 2018 Joy Harjo Poetry AwardBarry
  • Lopez Nonfiction Award, and
  • the Rick DeMarinis Short Story Award

These contests are open for submissions through October 31, 2018. First Prize in each genre: $1300 and publication. Second Prize in each genre: $250 and publication. Honorable Mention: Publication. $20 entry fee. Details HERE.

RELATED:

REMINDER:

The Poet by Day

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Response deadline is Monday, October 22, at 8 p.m. Pacific. Poems are on theme are published on this site on Tuesday, the October 16. Details HERE.


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

scag dancing, a poem . . . and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

“Junk sickness is the reverse side of junk kick. The kick of junk is that you have to have it. Junkies run on junktime and junkmetabolism. They are subject to junk climate. They are warmed and chilled by junk. The kick of junk is living under junk conditions. You cannot escape from junk sickness anymore than you can escape from junk kick after a shot.” William S. Burroughs, Junky



nobody tells her how to spend her pay
so she thought nothing of passing a buck
to the man – bronze with sun and dirt –
clutching his poverty and homelessness
scag*-dancing his way down Mainline Street

* scag = a bag of heroin

© 2012, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo ~ circa WW I heroin bottle by Mpv51 generously released into the public domain.

“In 2015 about a quarter of a billion people used drugs. Of these, around 29.5 million people – or 0.6 per cent of the global adult population – were engaged in problematic use and suffered from drug use disorders, including dependence.” MORE United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

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“Today, more than 7 million people suffer from an illicit drug disorder, and one in four deaths results from illicit drug use. In fact, more deaths, illnesses and disabilities are associated with drug abuse than any other preventable health condition. People suffering from drug and alcohol addiction also have a higher risk of unintentional injuries, accidents and domestic violence incidents.” MORE  Gateway Foundation

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

There are many people whose lives are touched by the ramifications of substance abuse. In my own country, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of families have felt the impact of addiction.  Maybe your experience inspires anger or sadness. Maybe it inspires compassion.  Tells us about your views, feelings or experiences in your own poetry.

Share your poem/s on theme or a link to it/them in the comments section below.

All poems on theme will be published next Tuesday. Please do NOT email your poem to me or leave it on Facebook. If you do it’s likely I’ll miss it or not see it in time.

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These will be partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, October 22 by 8 p.m. Pacific.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning non-judgemental place to connect.


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.