Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


A Reading List for Grief (Part 3 of 3)

Wrapping up the Reading List, here are some books related to grief and/or caregiving which have been recommended to me but I haven’t read yet (all available on amazon.com):

The Truth About Death, Poems by Grace Mattern

Bitter and Sweet; A Family’s Journey with Cancer by Darcy Thiel (a guest blogger on this blog!)

Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude – Jim Perlman (Editor), Deborah Cooper (Editor), Mara Hart (Editor), Pamela Mittlefehldt (editor)

Nearing Death Awareness (A Guide to the Language, Visions, and Dreams of the Dying) by Mary Anne Sanders

Death and the Art of Dying by Bokar Rinpoche

I am currently reading Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (translation by Lydia Davis) and Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph. More about both in a later post.

Please feel free to keep sending recommendations or any thoughts you might have on any of the books mentioned.

Finally, here are some quotes which resonated with me from two books on Part 1’s list. I’ll refer to more quotes in other posts. Enjoy.

From MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor E. Frankl:

“… Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.”

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

“… Even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into triumph.”

From THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho:

“Sometimes, there’s just no way to hold back the river.”

“Everything on earth is being continuously transformed, because the earth is alive… and it has a soul. We are part of that soul, so we rarely recognize that it is working for us.”

“There is only one way to learn… through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

“When something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.”

“Death doesn’t change anything.”

“’You were always a good man,’ the angel said to him. ‘You lived your life in a loving way, and died with dignity. I can now grant you any wish you desire.’”


10 Tips on Writing Memoir

From a writer’s conference lecture last October and conversations with fellow writers at the Vermont writer’s residency:

1. The average length of a successful memoir is 260 pages. Some will be shorter, some longer, but this is the average.

2. It is okay to change people’s names, locations, relationships and other identifying characteristics in order to protect them and you.

3. It has to be the truth, but it is also “to the best of your recollection.”

4. There must be an arc. You’re a different person at the end than you were in the beginning. There must also be a change-lesson, a reason why people would care.

5. Know who your audience is. It will affect the language you use to tell the story. You are telling it to them.

6. Be careful with adjectives and adverbs.

7. Use both external internal dialogue. External for action, internal for emotion.

8. When looking for a publisher, start by finding the agent, publisher and editors for the memoirs that you love.

9. Three recommended memoirs (and links to their descriptions):

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

Marrying George Clooney – Musings From a Midlife Crisis by Amy Ferris

Dancing at the Shame Prom, a collection of confessions from 27 women, edited by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter

10. Four recommended books on writing memoir:

Writing the Memoir by Judith Barrington
A very readable “textbook” that covers all the basics and also analyzes some memoirs and how the writers tackled certain issues.

Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, edited by William Zinsser
Memoir writers like Frank McCourt, Toni Morrison or Annie Dillard write about how they wrote their memoirs: what they struggled with, what their goals were for the book, how they finally found their voice, how their families reacted, etc.

Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas
A memoir about writing memoir presented in little snippets of musing on writing, everyday life, and how she came to write her memoirs Safekeeping and A Three Dog Life.

Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature by Bill Roorbach
Friendly instruction and stimulating exercises on how to turn life stories into vivid personal essays and memoirs by learning to open up memory, access emotions, shape scenes from experience, develop characters, and research supporting details.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these or other books in the comment section. This newbie memoir writer is still learning and reading up all these great books and authors.

Happy creating!