By the Wind Grieved

By the Wind Grieved
“O lost, And by the wind grieved, Ghost, Come back again.” Thomas Wolfe

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Memoir and the Open Heart

In a post from May of 2013, just a few months after beginning to chronicle my experience as a memoir writer for hire, I likened my role to that of therapist. Both endeavors involve asking questions to guide the subject to deeper recollection, which will then enable him to assign meaning to memories.

I was reminded of this analogy when reading a profile a couple of months ago in The New York Times on David Ritz, credited memoir ghostwriter to such musical stars as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Etta James, among others. (Author of the article, Nate Chinen, dubs Ritz "confessional bard of rhythm and blues.") Reading how Ritz found his calling is fascinating in itself, as are his colorful tales of working with such luminaries and his reflections on an amazingly prolific career. (This year alone he has five new books.)  But what really hit home for me were his comments on a critical (THE critical) aspect of memoir writing: the willingness of the subjects to open their hearts.