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Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog) RSS feed

Is it still a great time to become a personal historian?

by Pat McNees (updated the month the Association of Personal Historians filed for bankruptcy--but individual personal historians are still at your service)

Since 1990 I've been helping people and organizations tell their life stories. If you're nosy, love to do interviews, like shaping them into a compelling narrative, and either know how to produce and independently publish a book or are willing to learn and/or subcontract some stages of the process,  Read More 
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A Hairstyle of My Own by Pat McNees


"A Hairstyle of My Own" by Pat McNees from William Erwin on Vimeo.


A lot of women have either identified with my lifelong hair problems or reported the opposite type. As to spelling: Is it blonde or blond? "The word comes to English from French, where it has masculine and feminine forms. As an English noun, it kept those two forms; thus, a blond is a fair-haired male, and a blonde is a fair-haired female. When you're using the word as an adjective, 'blond' is the more common spelling and can be used for males or females; however, "blonde" can also be used to describe a woman or girl  Read More 
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Memoir, biography, and personal histories (how-to resources)

Here's a gateway to life story telling resources, whether you're doing it yourself, hiring a pro, or helping others tell their stories.

Telling your story

Articles, stories, websites, and other resources about how people have told their own, their family, or their company stories)
The art and craft of interviewing
Great interview questions and guides
Audio recording and editing equipment, software, and tutorials
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A memoir writer's dream come true

Paul Pollinger reading Kim Firestone's memoir
This is the kind of picture an author has to love. I helped my friend Kim Firestone get his book in shape for publication, got it nicely designed by my Argentine friends at My Special Book (especially Juan Zemborain), took it along to a weekend at the Bay, and smiled as I watched my  Read More 
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Collaborating on memoirs (Moehringer and Agassi)

Toward the end of an interesting interview with Terry Gross about his novel about Willie Sutton, the infamous bank robber, Moehringer talks at some length about his earlier collaboration with Andre Agassi  Read More 
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Writing workshops as group therapy

Steve Almond's essay Why Talk Therapy Is on the Wane and Writing Workshops Are on the Rise (NY Times Magazine 3-23-12) is about the rise of MFA programs. It ignores a huge not-so-snootily-literary group: people who take life writing workshops because  Read More 
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Mark Twain on writing autobiography

Mark Twain's insights on writing a life story could keep many memoir writers from getting stuck: "Finally, in Florence in 1904, I hit upon the right way to do an Autobiography: start it at no particular time of your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn Read More 
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Memoir: Show AND Tell (an interview with Patricia Hampl)

"I think that the reason memoir is a dynamic form today is not because we happen to be a tell-all society," Patricia Hampl said in an interview in 2004. "What I think really has given torque to the genre, has made universities suddenly make room for this genre has to do with...this thing called a story, Read More 
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Entering the room called "Remember"

A funny thing is happening to the men and women who take my Life Stories and Legacy Writing course at the Writer's Center in Bethesda--especially those who keep writing and reading their stories aloud to each other in sessions I hold for the "graduates."  Read More 
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