A Post-Shame Point of View

close to the boneI read this book, Close to the Bone, back when I was first beginning to write memoir. It is excellent. Here are a few quotes from the Introduction by editor Laurie Stone:

“The memoirists I find inspiring have mined self-knowledge and come clean with the goods…

“Most memoirs fail as literature because their authors mistake their experience for a story rather than search out the story in their experience…

“What matters in the memoir, as in fiction, is the degree of insight and drama…

“The challenge is to write about shame from a post-shame point of view, to enter an ego-free zone, cleared of mirror-worship and whining, to walk out naked and speak intimately… rather the teller sets up the self as a lab rat and mounts folly and error as exhibits that can be surrounded, poked. The project is to winnow romance and vanity from the way others see the self…

“With self-scrutiny the teller transforms blunders into the only shapely and reliably honorable offering that can be made of such materials: art.”

Isn’t that great? I thought so. I read this book almost 20 years ago and Stone’s Introduction has stayed with me. I especially love this line (about after you’ve written your story):

What’s left is a voice that may once have told its story as a weeper but now knows, ineluctably, it is threaded with comedy.

Yes! When I was in grad school (2001) and read a particular excerpt aloud to an audience, a passage that to me had been heart-wrenching, tragic even – they roared with laughter! I couldn’t believe it! Why were they laughing at my pain… Well, that was then and this is now… And only time could bring me to the point where, if I couldn’t laugh at myself, I could at least see why others thought it funny.

About Nancy Wait

Nancy Wait is an artist a memoir writer, author of "The Nancy Who Drew, The Memoir That Solved A Mystery," and a former actress (stage, film and TV) in the UK under the name of Nancie Wait. She once hosted the blog talk radio shows "Art and Ascension" and "Inspirational Storytellers." Her current project is a second memoir, "The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home."
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1 Response to A Post-Shame Point of View

  1. Alice Lundy says:

    Absolutely! Timing changes perspective. I had the same experience before when reading part of my memoir to a group of women. They laughed and then I laughed louder and deeper at my own folly. Thanks for sharing the insights from Close to the Bone.

    Liked by 1 person

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