Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature Paperback original, January 26, 2016.
Everything an aspiring memoirist needs to know, in one readable volume, a follow-up to the acclaimed writers’ handbook Why We Write
For the many amateurs and professionals who write about themselves—bloggers, journal-keepers, aspiring essayists, and memoirists—this book offers inspiration, encouragement, and pithy, practical advice. Twenty of America’s bestselling memoirists share their innermost thoughts and hard-earned tips with veteran author Meredith Maran, revealing what drives them to tell their personal stories, and the nuts and bolts of how they do it. Speaking frankly about issues ranging from turning oneself into an authentic, compelling character to exposing hard truths, these successful authors disclose what keeps them going, what gets in their way, and what they love most—and least—about writing about themselves.
“Memoirists tell the truth and expose their beating black hearts in Why We Write About Ourselves.” —Vanity Fair
"This is a book designed to be dipped into. Because there is so much wisdom in these pages. So much is distilled. The very act of creating a memoir requires so much writing, sifting, considering, and more analysis...Bravissima."
—East Hampton Star
"An easy and enjoyable read...This collection just works. It really, really works."
—What I Think About
“This collection reporting why writers write about themselves hops from the fascinating to theclarifying to the downright inspirational. This is not a book to be read lightly nor to be read all at once—it is chock-full of brilliance and insight. Most contributions are so vital and exhilarating that readers will likely set the book aside to go walk, talk, think, and, perhaps, write themselves.A truly stellar collection and a must-read for writers.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Candid revelations for readers; useful advice and encouragement for aspiring writers."
In this helpful collection, 20 authors address the challenges of personal writing, from self-reflection to respecting the feelings of the other people in one’s life. A diverse group of contributors to speak from their personal experiences while also reflecting on memoir as a genre. “
“In this follow-up to Maran’s Why We Write here are insights offered by key writers ranging from Ishmael Beah, Edwidge Danticat, and Nick Flynn to Sue Monk Kidd, Cheryl Strayed, and Edmund White.”
“Bestselling authors spill secrets about the act of spilling secrets.”
—Wall Street Journal
"You shouldn’t have affairs. But definitely don’t have one with a memoirist. That’s one of the few real conclusions I can draw from “Why We Write About Ourselves,” a collection of reflections and justifications from 20 practitioners of the memoir art. You know they’re going to tell everyone about it. It’s what they do. It’s all they do...As readers, of course, we almost always want a memoirist to offer more, even if we then sit in judgment of their disclosures. Ishmael Beah, author of “A Long Way Gone,” a memoir of his time as a child soldier in Sierra Leone, says that he holds some things back, “the deepest intimacies of my emotions and experiences.” But aren’t those deepest intimacies precisely what we’re after when we pick up a memoir?"
"Memoirists have long faced the same set of questions: How much truth should you tell? How many secrets can be exposed? What if the truth is not as you remember it? They're all valid questions without easy answers, because it all depends on who you ask—and Maran (Why We Write) asked some heavy hitters."
"Reading memoirs, I have often wondered what leads someone to write something so intensely personal about not only themselves but those around them. I have often wondered what impact a public memoir has on an author's personal life and relationships. I have often wondered how true memoirs really are. Memories depend on the author; what is included and excluded depends on the author; but is what is there true within those limitations? These essays, to varying degrees, answer these questions." —Memories From Books
"The book features twenty well-known authors candidly disclosing the origins of their memoirs. In response to Editor Maran’s probing questions, a chorus of diverse voices and varied motivations emerge from writers including Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott, Nick Flynn and James McBride." —AuthorLink
"I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from this book, but, wow, it blew me away. InWhy We Write about Ourselves, twenty popular authors share their experiences of writing their own memoirs. They speak about revealing themselves, of being painfully honest, of protecting (or not) the ones they love (or don’t)… I have read books by about half of the authors featured here, but after reading this book, oh man, my to-be-read list just grew, like, exponentially." —Bug Bug Book Reviews
"These themes emerge over and over throughout this book. What will my friends and family think of the memoir? How much personal information can I reveal about other people? Do I have to reveal everything about myself?… Read this book if you have any designs on writing a memoir. It's a quick read (less than a week), it's entertaining, and it should help put you in the right frame of mind to accomplish your task. Also it lists all of these writers' Twitter accounts so I'm going to start following them right about now." —Flying Houses