Dream Your Way to Writing Your Memoir: Five Tips

“Dreams are real while we have them; can we say more of life?” –anonymous My seventeenth year was a nightmare (a waking one!) My parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce, my mother had recently had a nervous breakdown, and my dad was having an affair. Late at night, through the heating vent by my bed, I could hear my father’s angry voice and my mother’s sobs in the downstairs rec room. It was a painful and volatile time but my older brother, who was away at college, kept urging me to keep our parents together and our family intact. I had no idea how I was supposed to accomplish this. Further more, I didn’t want to. “I’m not interested in all this parent shit,” I wrote back. “I just want to get out of here.” It would take me decades to discover that this was not the voice of a callous teenager but of a heart-broken young … Read on

Pamela Jane is the author of over thirty books from board books to memoir. She is also a writing coach, freelance writer, and public speaker. Learn more about her by booking a school visit, perusing her blog, or reading her memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.

Just Wait! A short story rejected in grade school becomes a cause of action

In elementary school, back in the 1950s, we were never given writing assignments, and I never imagined there were any living authors. I pictured a cemetery filled with tombstones of my favorite writers with their last names first, like card catalogs in the library: Baum, L. Frank 1856-1919. Writing – the pleasure of articulating interior worlds sensed but not seen – was something I did on my own. I was in eighth grade before I got a chance to write a story for school. My eighth-grade English teacher, Mr. Mortem, was a malevolent-looking man with a low brow and small beady eyes. We joked that he moonlighted as an axe murderer. But he was even scarier as an English teacher. He terrorized us with menacing-sounding exams called “evaluations,” which turned out to be ordinary multiple-choice tests. But he was the first teacher to give us an assignment to write a short story. “Remember,” Mr. Mortem called as we filed out of class, “no stories from TV!” I hardly heard him. I was … Read on

Pamela Jane is the author of over thirty books from board books to memoir. She is also a writing coach, freelance writer, and public speaker. Learn more about her by booking a school visit, perusing her blog, or reading her memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.

Read the First Chapter of My Memoir

beach run

In 1965, when I was eighteen, I ran away to Portland, Oregon. Running away was an act of rebellion, but also of faith. In one beautiful leap I would escape my family, my past, and the insufferable person I’d been living with for the past few years—my teenage self. This person was quite obviously screwed up. She had way too many problems. No one wanted any part of them, especially me. In Portland I could reinvent myself and leave the past behind. My brother agreed to drive me to the airport on the condition that I stop to say goodbye to my parents. So on a gray November morning, I found myself driving down the flat Midwestern streets where the silent, respectable houses stared impassively out of the dawn. We turned a corner, and my brother slowed down. There it was—the familiar red brick bungalow with my writing alcove overlooking the maple tree. My brother pulled over and turned off … Read on

Pamela Jane is the author of over thirty books from board books to memoir. She is also a writing coach, freelance writer, and public speaker. Learn more about her by booking a school visit, perusing her blog, or reading her memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.

I’m Not Panicking – This is Just My Writing Process!

Little Elfie One by Pamela Jane

Years ago I took a weekend seminar with renowned screenwriting teacher, Bob McKee.  The large auditorium was packed.  Screenwriters, novelists, children’s authors, and editors of all genres had come to hear McKee talk about the art of writing and storytelling.  I could hardly wait for the seminar to start. McKee walked out on stage and stood for a moment, looking out at the audience.  Everyone was silent, waiting for him to begin. “Writing,” he said finally, his intense gaze scanning the audience, “is not about the words.” Yes! I thought, someone finally said it!  I had always felt that words were merely messengers of a deeper truth concealed behind or beneath them. Writing, McKee went on to say, is about characters, meaning, and emotional impact.  Recently I rediscovered the truth of McKee’s statement when I sat down to write Little Elfie One, a Christmas sequel to my rhyming Halloween book Little Goblins Ten, which had been published the year before.  … Read on

Pamela Jane is the author of over thirty books from board books to memoir. She is also a writing coach, freelance writer, and public speaker. Learn more about her by booking a school visit, perusing her blog, or reading her memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.