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Writing Alchemy

Inspiration for Writing the Best Memoir You Can

by Matilda Butler on September 1, 2015

catnav-alchemy-activePost #83 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Matilda Butler

Consider What Matters When Writing Your Memoir

Today’s blog is fairly short and has the sole purpose of encouraging you to write your memoir–to write it in the best way that you can achieve. I’ll say more about the quote at the end.

It is not the critic who counts:
The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena,
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes short again and again;
Who knows great enthusiasms;
Who spends herself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end
The triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst,
If she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

A few points about the quote:

1. I changed “man” to “woman” and “himself” to “herself” and “he” to “she.” So shoot me. The quote comes from an era when “man” or “he” was considered generic. Of course, since then research has demonstrated that gendered words limit us.

2. I found this quote in an ad for Cadillac. I was quite impressed with it and wondered if today’s ad agencies really write like this. There were no quote marks and no attribution so it seemed as if some agency had produced this copy. Hum. I still wasn’t a believer, not that good writing can’t come from an ad agency. More it was something in my gut. So while it would have been quite difficult to prove one way or the other in the past, today’s technology makes it easy to check.

3. Which brings me to point #3. This is an excerpted quote from a speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne, in Paris on April 23, 1910. I’m including the full quote below.

It is not the critic who counts;
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes short again and again,
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
But who does actually strive to do the deeds;
Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst,
If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
Who neither know victory nor defeat.

4. We often let fears of rejection limit us. What will family say? But I’m not a professional writer. What if I can’t complete this large undertaking? Etc. Just remember: “It is not the critic who counts.” Do the very best that you can. Be daring. Be courageous.

5. And if you prefer a woman to give you inspirational advice, here are the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do”.

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Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and DeepHave you tried using Writing Alchemy: How to Write Deep and Fast? This book provides a new approach to writing your stories in a way that emotionally connects with the reader. If you would like to know more, just click here. You’ll find a description of the book, a complete table of contents, and reactions from writers and authors who have used it.

Have another method of writing that is working for you? That’s great. Keep striving and achieving. “Dare greatly.”

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Memoir Writers: Is Seeing Believing? That Depends on What You See.

by Matilda ButlerMay 26, 2015
Memoir Writers: Is Seeing Believing? That Depends on What You See.

What do you remember? What does a sibling remember? Are they different memories of the same time and situation? Read this article [and view three short videos] to learn more about perceptions.

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Story Structure and Memoir Writing

by Matilda ButlerMay 12, 2015
Story Structure and Memoir Writing

Join Matilda Butler as she helps you see story structure in a new light.

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Crafting Distinctive Characters in Your Memoir

by Matilda ButlerApril 7, 2015
Crafting Distinctive Characters in Your Memoir

Matilda Butler presents a new way to think about how you write other characters in your memoir.

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Memoir is About the Little Things Too

by Kendra BonnettMarch 17, 2014
Memoir is About the Little Things Too

What do you think belongs in a memoir? It’s not only about earth shattering drama. The elements of everyday life, when well written are also engaging.

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Emotions and Joy: 6 Writing Tips and a Writing Prompt

by Matilda ButlerOctober 16, 2013
Emotions and Joy: 6 Writing Tips and a Writing Prompt

Our lives and our life stories are filled with emotions. How do you express emotions in your writing? Today’s article gives you 6 writing tips.

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Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! 3 Tips for Letting Time Work for Your Memoir

by Pamela JaneOctober 8, 2013
Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! 3 Tips for Letting Time Work for Your Memoir

Pamela Jane Bell returns with three more great writing tips — this set focused on how you can let the passage of time help you with your writing. Finally, tips on the advantages of not writing.

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