Jane Friedman "It takes guts to be gentle and kind." (The Smiths)

Jane Friedman has 22,679 Twitter followers, some of whom could more appropriately be called devotees. It’s worth getting a Twitter account just to follow her. You’ll soon see why she has built a rabid tribe. She’s smart, ahead of the rapidly evolving book industry curve, witty–and generous.

One of the things I like most about social media is that it teaches the golden rule better than any priest or parent. Jane herself gives away many of her best ideas, and she offers her readers the present of her presence. She answers questions and encourages others online. When she mentioned me once in a Tweet, I was elated.

One example of Jane’s generosity is her “best tweets for writers” feature which shows up each Sunday on her blog. She explains, “I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to.”

Last week in her roundup of the best tweets, she included a post by literary agent Jessica Papin on writing memoir which you can see here. Papin finds Ira Glass’s explanation about story structure pertinent to memoir writers. Since I am one of those people who will sit in my car for a full 15 minutes after my trip has ended so as not to miss a minute of a This American Life story on NPR, I’ll write more about his take on story in a future post.

Naturally, after reading Jane Friedman’s Best Tweets for Writers post, finding a useful memoir post included (above), and seeing how many RT’s the post got on Twitter, I wondered if my own audience would benefit from timely, focused, content aggregation on memoir only.

One of Jane’s other suggested Tweets takes you to this good post which explains how to aggregate. It’s a little above my experience level, but I might tackle it if the interest were high.

Let me know if you want this service. I probably would do it monthly–but only if you encourage me in the comment section.  In the meantime, here’s one for those of you who have a manuscript of a memoir and want to find an agent. Enjoy agent Rachelle Gardner’s humor about ten things that annoy an agent, and take the implicit advice!

Also, here’s a good place for me to shout out to three other memoir blog sites. I used to have a blogroll on my home page, before my site was hacked and my son kindly migrated all my content to WordPress. Until I find a permanent place on my home page for these links, let me recommend Women’s Memoirs, National Association of Memoir Writers, and Memory Writers Network, and Narrative. They are all terrific!!

Today’s question: are there enough good memoir blog posts to do a regular online roundup of them, and how important would such a service be to you? By what criteria would one select the “best”?

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Shirley Showalter


  1. friesengroup on September 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Thank you for once again pointing the way to another excellent resource. With its interviews, “When Mom Was My Age”, Jane Friedman’s personal blog is not to be missed.


  2. Jane Friedman on September 23, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Thank you for such kind words, Shirley. I hope I can live up to half of them!

    Allow me to heartily encourage you to experiment with a bit of aggregation. I can say, from experience, that reading so widely (in order to achieve a solid list of recommendations) gives you an excellent perspective and eye for online content—and where your own strengths/niches might be.

    Cheers & much gratitude.

    • shirleyhs on September 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

      Speaking of being elated! Thanks for the comment and the encouragement, Jane. I will probably try my toe in the water with this–but carefully. Hard to know how to evaluate priorities among: writing; blogging new content of use to memoir writers, readers, and teachers; earning a living; being there for family, friends, and community. Add curating to this list and it gets even more daunting.

      What I need to do next, I think, is study up on some of the software that helps aggregate.

      In any case, you can count on my interest in your Sunday offerings and my RT’s out to my own tweeps. Note your other fans above and below also!

  3. DazyDayWriter on September 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Hi Shirley! Strangely enough, I read Jane’s post before coming here … so have to concur with your observations. Wonderful resource for all of us who love the printed word. Re your question. I don’t have a good sense for the number of blog posts re memoir that would qualify for inclusion in a possible roundup, but undoubtedly, there are plenty of them out there in cyberspace. Don’t know if this is helpful, but I would be interested in a review that covered some of the various themes in memoir writing. If anything else comes to mind, I’ll find you on twitter or facebook! Best wishes from SunnyRoomStudio (if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by … see what’s on the DazyDayWriter blog today!)

    • shirleyhs on September 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm

      I did pay a visit to SunnyRoomStudio and encourage others to do the same. Daisy, you are the most generous RT and mention person out there. The prairie must expand your heart. Thank you!

      • DazyDayWriter on September 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

        Thank you for your compliment, Shirley. I am committed to supporting kindred spirits because that is a primary goal of SunnyRoomStudio … life is much more interesting when traveling through space with people who inspire us. Want to read your review of the Rosanne Cash memoir; she’s one of my favorite musical artists. Should you ever want to do a guest blog post in Sunny Room, just let me know. I want other voices to shine through! (someday we’ll also have to talk about the wonderful world of nonprofits … sometimes I think I’m taking my passion for causes and using it to support kindred spirits instead; it’s a nice fit at this point in my life and allows for maximum flexibility) Namaste.

  4. doradueck on September 24, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Since you asked… I’m not working on a memoir so I come to your blog more or less to follow what you’re up to, see what you’re reading, etc. For that reason I don’t have a particular need for you to curate across this specific field at this time. I really appreciate your commitment to this community — but sure want you to be working on your own memoir as well. (You are, right?)

    • shirleyhs on September 24, 2010 at 1:17 am

      Ooh, Dora, you put your finger right on the sore spot. I have a lot of energy, but it is finite! My own writing always has to compete with all the other interests and needs in my life. I have not made a lot of progress in the last year or so as I have built up my social media experience and presence. I also have written 7-8 short pieces but as of yet have not found the infamous narrative arc for a longer piece. Hopeful that inspiration will strike. Enjoying the ride in the meantime.

  5. Jerry Waxler on September 24, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Aggregating the “best of” is a neat tool to help bloggers and readers stay in touch. It’s so very hard to keep up with the ever expanding web, and so, I think it’s an almost definite benefit to readers. If you enjoy researching and finding great posts about memoirs, then I think it would certainly be a service. Since your blog is one of my regulars, if you aggregate, then it will be a big help for me.

    And yes, do whatever Jane Friedman is doing. She has perfected a quality of “blog charisma” – a quality I didn’t even know existed until I saw hers. You used the word “tribe.” She is some sort of tribal leader. Follow that woman.

    Thanks for the shoutout about my memoir blog. I can’t believe I’m still writing about memoirs more than 3 years later. It’s still fun and fresh, and every day is an exciting new day when you’ve got a pile of memoirs to explore. LOL

    Memory Writes Network

  6. shirleyhs on September 27, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks, Jerry. I will weigh this vote of confidence along with all the others above, keeping in mind especially the goal of balancing blogging, social media, and the other kind of writing–for the sake of developing my own voice in the genre I am studying.

    Way to go on three years on your great blog. I urge readers to check it out!

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