In 1969, at the age of 41, Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86 in Winston-Salem, N.C., published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a memoir of her childhood and adolescent odyssey from Arkansas to California, during which she survived a cascade of traumatic events, including being raped by her mother's boyfriend at age seven and overcoming prejudice to become, at age 16, San Francisco's first black streetcar conductor.
Three years ago, magazine writer Katie Hafner's family was in turmoil. Her mother was 77 and at loose ends, cast adrift by her husband's incipient dementia (he had moved back in with his family of origin).
Abigail Thomas has a thoughtful piece up on AARP on writing a memoir, saying, "To write a memoir, cultivate the habit of listening to yourself." Not only does she talk about her own personal journey towards and through memoir-writing, but gives us inspirational advice on how to tune into our inner writer, step by step.
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