The goal of a voice [in memoir]
is not to speak with objective authority
but with subjective curiosity.
~ Mary Karr

Happy Thanksgiving (Canada)!

My maternal grandparents and my father were originally French Canadians who came to New England for work. Our family life revolved around Bouchard and Morin relatives coming from and returning to Quebec.  My grandparents reminisced fondly about holidays back home such as Action de Grace ( the French term for Thanksgiving which I loved from the beginning). Given that the American Columbus Day holiday is celebrated in New England states, we were sometimes able to visit my Bouchard grandparents for this holiday of gratitude — once, with Mémère Morin exclaiming about the hillsides of maples scarlet among evergreens at every turn of the Connecticut River leading us north to the Eastern Townships.

Here is a poignant English Quebec story about such a holiday gathering and its essential value for a loving grandfather:

Action de Grace by Peter Scotchmer

 Aging and Creativity News

Ryan brief memoir and poems of 1968 Student Trip

Russian Summer – SAGE-ing 21, September 2016, pp 14-16.

Ryan Art Photograph in Contemplative Gallery

I have been learning about contemplative photography over the past year. My sunrise photo was included as the first in this Contemplative Gallery.

90-Year-Old Australian Teacher Completes PhD on Creative Writing in Aged Care Homes

Aging in Community News

Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness

These Elderly Japanese Women Will Make You Question Everything You Thought You Knew About Retirement Homes

Aging and Spirit

Wisdom of Elders – CBC Video

 Writing Exercise

Write a letter to a grandchild [or someone you consider as like a grandchild] about how one of their attributes reminds you of someone you knew when you were growing up.

See these examples from my edited Writing Down Our Years book series:

Summer Memories



Book Review

The Art of Memoir
Mary Karr; New York: Harper, 2015

Author of best-selling memoirs, Mary Karr has taught the art of writing memoir at Syracuse University for three decades.  This synthesis of her expertise presents her fundamental approach to writing life story, but more importantly Karr repeatedly shows us how to write memoir through exposing her vulnerable self in vibrant body-based prose.

Like a course, the Art of Memoir addresses major topics such as the shape of the book, character development, family privacy, pushing through to the first draft, and the essential process of revision.  An extensive appendix lists memoirs worth reading beforehand and while you write.

Writers need to practice writing. Every life can be a memoir, but a memoir emerges only after distilling life events to identify the story’s emotional message(s) and how the narrator can grow over the course of that story.

Memoir done right is an art, a made thing.

The telling details make the story.  Karr argues that literature differs from life, in that literature focuses attention on selected sensory details which elicit the meaning of experience.  She insists that writers of their lives build upon rich sensory details to create setting, immediacy, and emotions.

So a single image can split open the hard seed of the past, and soon memory pours forth from every direction, sprouting its vines and flowers up around you till the old garden’s taken shape in all its fragrant glory. Almost unbelievable how much can rush forward to fill an absolute blankness.

Memoir grows from lived experience – its readers draw hope from the fact that the author has not only survived both good and bad times but also created meaning from the up’s and the down’s.

Recommended Memoirs – Web Listings

100 Most Read Memoirs

Best Memoirs – Another Listing

Conferences and Requests for Submissions


With this shadow photo,
I bid you adieu