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Memoir and Legacy

Michael CoffinoA now-prominent literary genre, memoir has opened us to appreciate how we each have life stories that can benefit a diverse reader community. Consider this Native American proverb: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” It highlights the imperative of getting our stories out to inform, inspire, teach and entertain.

I bring special experience to the art of memoir writing. I spent almost forty years as a trial attorney honing the art of examination, in both formal and informal settings, and finding ways to connect with diverse personalities. I know how and when to ask questions. I know there are ways to ask a question and ways not to ask a question. I know, too, there are questions not to ask at all in the absence of consent.                         

I am mindful that in most memoir project situations, I am a stranger to the author, a relative unknown, which makes it incumbent on me to build trust, using a combination of patience, keen listening, empathy and the absence of judgment. Trust is vital to free both author and writer to excavate the depths of personal history and get at some buried truths, which isn’t always easy and can be painful and cathartic.

 As an attorney, I had a motto, “each client is the only client.” In a service industry like lawyering, client loyalty and devotion to client goals are paramount, principles that I believe apply with equal force to memoir writing. As the writer, my goal is to give expression to your story in your voice in a manner that accomplishes your memoir goals.  

I appreciate the creative dimension as well. The artistic essence of the memoir lies in its novelistic shape. Like good fiction, the captivating memoir has character development, attention to detail, imagery and metaphor, a dynamic sense of timing, and well-placed climactic moments. Simplified, it has a compelling story line that entices readers to want to know more. I aim to tell your story in that fashion.

The journey builds incrementally to the ultimate prize, a literary gift to the author and many others. That holds true for both memoir and legacy writing. They typically have different audiences—the former more general and the latter more familial—and their subject matters can diverge. But both travel similar paths, and both are heartfelt contributions.

If you are ready to tell your story, let’s discuss the possibilities.