Memoir Writers: Check Out This Great Resource

by Matilda Butler on March 31, 2014

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #113 – Memoir Writing – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

A Discussion of Journaling, Writing and Healing, and a Resource for Writers

Women’s Memoirs is pleased to welcome Jan Marquart. Jan is an author of nine books and the CEO-Founder of About the Author Network.

Many of our interviews focus on experiences of women who have written their memoirs. Today we’re thrilled that Jan is going to share with us her inspiration to provide services and resources to people who want to write, publish, and market their books.

memoir writing logo, Women's MemoirsWomen’s Memoirs: Hi Jan. Thanks for stopping by today. Before talking about your marvelous organization, About the Author Network, we’d love to know more about your background. For example, you are a longtime journaler and I’m sure our readers will be interested in that. So many women feel that going back through their journals helps when they are ready to write their memoirs. What prompted you to start journaling back in 1972? What value do you think journaling has? And is it “too late” for women who want to write about their lives but don’t have journals to read?

Jan MarquartJan Marquart: I love this question because journaling is an intricate part of my life now. I started writing when I was about 10 in a Girl Scout diary. Staring into the blank page widened the feeling of my life. Finally I was going to have a place of my own to go to, a place where my mother couldn’t snoop. Two things happened after my first entry that changed everything: 1. my father showed no interest in reading what I had written after I asked him to and 2: the journal soon disappeared – my mother often took away things I spent too much time on. So I gave up writing except for book reports for school which I absolutely loved to do. Secretly I held the burning desire to be a writer. I told no one about it.

In 1972 I left New York to go to college in California and met a friend who introduced me to Anais Nin’s diaries. I loved them and my secret desire to be a writer was furiously ignited. So I began writing every day hoping to save them so one day I could write a memoir like Anais Nin. I never re-read what I wrote; I just stashed the journals in boxes and stored them in my attic. One rainy day I lugged the boxes down from the attic and began to read. I was hoping to find wonderful stories, insights, and pearls of wisdom for a memoir, but instead just found the boring moments that make up life. I was so disappointed that I began to challenge the point of the journaling process. Then it hit me: a memoir is a memory. The truly important themes of my life were not in the daily entries themselves, but because of them. Writing daily was the path that took me through difficult times.

Daily writing has enormous value, don’t get me wrong. I still keep a daily journal. Currently I am on the 98th book. I never thought I’d say this but I don’t save my journals anymore. They are the past. I don’t hold onto the past. What I have learned is that daily entries are bridges that take me from the past into the future. After that, their purpose is over. Writing lets me observe where I am on my path with acute mindfulness. That is precious. I don’t need any more than that from my entries.

It is never too late to start keeping a journal. Writing about our lives is a study in how we are living. Writing a memoir is made up of so much more. We have realizations, make new decisions, and head off in other directions, which we can’t possibly do by documenting every moment or we would be writing and not living. It is the living part that makes the memoir. That is the part in between our words and sentences. That is the part we glean from our writing to set out our story for others. In the moment we don’t write those parts, not in full detail because we have to live something in order to understand its full value and that means letting some time move on.

Daily journals are powerful. I encourage everyone to write one. But to write a memoir from daily journals only means we have to revisit our lives and add the important parts, the parts that we don’t see in the moment of experience.??

memoir writing logo, Women's MemoirsWomen’s Memoirs: Jan, we appreciate you sharing your perspective on journaling with us. You offer longtime journalers a way to think about what they have been doing and you point to the positive value of starting to journal at any time in one’s life.

In your profession as a licensed clinical social worker, you have focused on relationships in families and in corporations. Kendra and I write and teach about one specific relationship — the one between writer and reader. I am sure that you have thought about this much more than we have. Would you share your insights into the writer-reader relationship and how knowledge about it might influence a writer?

Jan MarquartJan Marquart: For anyone wishing to write, it is imperative to read. I say that not only because reading helps a writer understand form, structure, content, plot, and other aspects of the writing process, but because reading broadens one’s perspectives and that changes lives. Writers take that wisdom of what they read into their own lives and eventually into their own stories. See, that is the power of the writer. If a writer wants to have a developed way of thinking, then reading is a fabulous way to find it.

When I edit manuscripts from someone who claims they hate reading, their writing is shallow and usually one-dimensional. Reading is a way to study the mind of others; writing is a way to study one’s own mind. The reader and the writer become joined through the single experience of existential essence. The written word is what joins them.

memoir writing logo, Women's MemoirsWomen’s Memoirs:  Jan, thanks for all of this information. Of course, we invited you today because we want to know more about your organization — About the Author Network. Would you tell us the background of why you started it as well as the types of services you offer?

Jan MarquartJan Marquart: I have been associated with writers since 1972 when I started keeping a daily journal and gravitated towards writers. In 1977 I began taking classes with Ellen Bass, author of The Courage to Heal. At the time she was becoming famous for her poetry. I took her classes for decades and loved being around writers. I found writers to be iconoclastic thinkers and they gave me a feeling of freedom I never had before. The first thing I learned as a child was how to bind my freedom to please others. But when I picked up my pen, I learned how to set myself free.

In 1989 I published my first book. I found it inspiring to be around authors and went to every book signing I could find. About a year ago I decided to build a site to help authors and that is the About the Author Network. I help people from soup to nuts. I help someone who has an idea for a book to starting their manuscript. I help them through the manuscript process, edit, and give them suggestions for publication.

Then the real challenge begins, as if writing isn’t challenging enough, and that is: publishing, marketing, and selling. Here is where the site About the Author Network comes into play. If someone has published a manuscript and wants help getting it out to the world, they can join About the Author Network.

Currently I have one local chapter where we meet once a month, listen to new author-members read from their books, learn from presenters, and can participate in any book festivals, book signings, and more that I can arrange.

memoir writing logo, Women's MemoirsWomen’s Memoirs: Do you have any new plans for the organization underway?

Jan MarquartJan Marquart: I plan on taking About the Author Network global and set up monthly meetings for writers and authors to meet, listen to presenters, read from their books and get new ideas for selling. Self-publishing has taken on a higher status than it used to. In the early days of self-publishing, writers were editing their own work and that was a huge problem. Writers cannot be in a hurry to get their manuscript published. They must hire editors and engage readers to make sure the book’s content is good quality. Today, self-published books need to meet the same high standards of those brought out by major publishers. That’s where the About the Author Network comes in.

memoir writing logo, Women's MemoirsWomen’s Memoirs: How can our readers find out more, including information about the cost to join?

Jan MarquartJan Marquart: Thanks Matilda and Kendra for hosting me today on WomensMemoirs. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you.

If you readers would like more information on About the Author Network, they can go to The monthly fee for writers/authors is $19.97. The complete list of features and benefits is found on the website under the Membership menu tab.


Jan Marquart, memoir writing, writing and healingJan Marquart is an LCSW, author, and CEO and Founder of About the Author Network. She speaks on writing and its value in healing to writing groups. Jan uses therapeutic writing with her clients and teaches classes for Story Circle Network on therapeutic writing. To find out more about Jan’s books and to see her site go to: She maintains two blogs: and Her site for authors is: and her psychotherapy site is:

To email Jan:

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