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Ralph Fletcher on Memoir

I had the privilege of hearing Ralph Fletcher speak about writing memoir today. He said a few things that resonated with me about why we write memoir and about how to create memorable memoirs.

Here are the most salient points I gathered from Fletcher’s talk:

  • Memoir allows us to revisit things that happened to us before; it allows us to gain perspective on the things that happened in the past.
  • Memoirs are saying who I am and who I was at a particular time in my life.
  • Memoirs can bring people ‘in’ if they’re intimate.
  • Fletcher also shared some quotes from E.L. Doctrow and Ray Bradbury that pertain to memoir. As where I paraphrased Fletcher, I was able to get the exact quotes from the other two since they were up on a large screen.

    “Stories were once as important to survival as a spear or hoe. They gave counsel. They connected the living with the dead. Stories distributed the suffering so it could be borne.”
    –E.L. Doctorow

    “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
    –Ray Bradbury

    Today, of all days, my Aunt Mill, who I wrote a poem about two months ago, lost her battle with cancer. I think I have some memoir writing to do, using Fletcher’s talk as motivation, about the lunches we shared when I was a college student in Washington, the dinners she took me to when I was a 20-something in Manhattan, and more.

    This photo was taken by Zlatko Batistich at my wedding in 2007. It’s one of my favorite photos. I was talking with some friends when I recognized another voice, not that of our band leader, singing. I turned around and realized that the familiar voice was that of my Aunt Mill. I’m thankful that my photographer snapped this photo of them singing the end of a song together.

    Stacey Shubitz View All

    I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.

    I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

    I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.

    6 thoughts on “Ralph Fletcher on Memoir Leave a comment

    1. That is beautiful. Thanks for the words on memoir writing. I need to do some more of that this summer too. Fletcher and Bradbury – two great teachers!


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