Speaker Jacki Ferro started by discussing what is and isn’t a memoir and pointed out that a memoir is about both the outcome – the memories and learnings of a person – and the process – how the person shares their most intimate memories and experiences. A reader of a memoir wants to learn something, or gain insights into the struggle for meaning or belonging of the person. Jacki talked about the variety of levels of involvement – some memoirs are largely an editing task while others involve her writing along with the author.
She discussed her three “Rs” of writing and editing in the memoir space:
Remember, Research and Reflect.
Some of her general guidelines:
- Develop and express your personal philosophy in such work.
- Maintain the author’s voice.
- Show the pain and pleasure in equal part.
- Write inclusively; there are many things to avoid.
Jacki walked us through several steps in writing and editing a memoir, as guidance for editors, including:
- Encourage the author to reflect, to distil their insights.
- Research with the author (searching questions) and general background.
- Ruminate with the author, without putting words into their mouth.
- Distil order from chaos to consolidate.
- Ensure authenticity in characters and stories.
- Provide detailed coverage of suggestions and points for the copyediting part of the process.
She wove through her presentation her experience in working with Rhonda Collard-Spratt on Alice’s daughter, a memoir of a child of the Stolen Generation.
There were many questions from IPEd members, for Jacki to answer.
Several gems emerged in her presentation; such as:
- Only work five hours a week on any manuscript.
- Have a reader crying and laughing at the same time.
IPEd members who registered have been advised how to access the recording of Jacki’s presentation, Crafting raw memoirs, on 6 April 2022; access to this recording is available to other IPEd members through the listing in Events.