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Fearless Confessions

A Writer's Guide to Memoir

Sue William Silverman

Publication Year: 2009

Everyone has a story to tell. Fearless Confessions is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper--or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

The rise of interest in memoir recognizes the power of the genre to move and affect not just individual readers but society at large. Sue William Silverman covers traditional writing topics such as metaphor, theme, plot, and voice and also includes chapters on trusting memory and cultivating the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces--from family members to the media--who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts and views remain silent.

Silverman, an award-winning memoirist, draws upon her own personal and professional experience to provide an essential resource for transforming life into words that matter. Fearless Confessions is an atlas that contains maps to the remarkable places in each person's life that have yet to be explored.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Fearless Confessions

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pp. iii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

"In Fearless Confessions, I invite you to accompany me as I look back at what I learned on my path toward becoming a writer, hoping to assist you with your own journey. When I first began to write, I struggled through numerous false starts and made many mistakes before gradually..."

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ONE: The Longest Paragraph

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pp. 1-9

"You should write your own story,' Randy, my therapist, says to me. I’ve been in therapy about a year. I slouch on the blue couch in Randy’s Atlanta office, lean my head back, and stare at the ceiling, nervous to meet his gaze. I put my feet, in red leather Reeboks,..."

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TWO: Savory Words: The First Bite of Your Story

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pp. 10-22

"I begin writing my first novel while living in Texas, several years before moving to Georgia — before therapy with Randy. One afternoon, I simply set up a card table in my apartment in a restored Victorian iron-front building in Galveston’s Strand District. I..."

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THREE: Writing on Key: A Few Notes about Theme

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pp. 23-34

"I recently worked on a memoir essay about a crush I had on a boy in high school, Jamie, whom I dated on and off for a few years. Having written two dark, full-length memoirs, I envisioned this piece as a light-hearted romp of teenage love and..."

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FOUR: Plotting Your Life

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pp. 35-49

"Plot is as important in memoir as it is in fiction. In fiction, plot is invented; in nonfiction, it is discovered. In a novel, you invent each scene, each episode, fabricating all sorts of trouble for your main character in order to thwart her or..."

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FIVE: Between Innocence and Experience: Finding Your Voice(s)

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pp. 50-67

"Back when I began my writing career, one of my teachers told me, 'Voice is everything.' I knew he was right — but I also knew that my fictional voice, regardless of character or point of view, frequently sounded false and strained. So after those several..."

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SIX: Mock Moons and Metaphor: Crafting Memoir into Art

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pp. 68-82

"One night, unable to sleep, I watch an autumn moon framed in my bedroom window in Michigan. It pauses, large and luminous, as if hovering just on the other side of the glass. I am startled: I haven’t noticed the moon for a long time, haven’t followed..."

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SEVEN: Writing in Style

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pp. 83-97

"I love red shoes. Always have, always will. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t own at least one pair — usually more. An early, preschool photograph, taken in Puerto Rico, shows my feet adorned in red strapped sandals. Currently, I count seven pairs."

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EIGHT: Marketing Your Memoir

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pp. 98-111

"One spring afternoon in 1996, I was sitting at my desk working on a novel (one, to this day, I’ve never completed), when the phone rang. It was David Fenza, executive director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (awp), notifying me..."

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NINE: Confessional and (Finally) Proud of It

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pp. 112-142

"Until I write the past it flickers in my mind’s eye, ghostly, like an old newsreel. In black-and-white photos of my Russian ancestors — photos that survived a boat trip from the Old Country to the New World — faces fade as if they’ve aged while sitting..."

APPENDIX ONE: The Meandering River: An Overview of the Subgenres of Creative Nonfiction

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pp. 143-157

APPENDIX TWO: Three Confessional Essays

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pp. 158-173

APPENDIX THREE: For Your Reading Pleasure: Four Full-Length Essays

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pp. 174-211

APPENDIX FOUR: Reading List of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

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pp. 212-230

Works Cited

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pp. 231-234

Biographical Notes

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pp. 235-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780820336060
E-ISBN-10: 0820336068
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820331669
Print-ISBN-10: 082033166X

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009