Rich, funny, and moving personal narratives depend on a few key moments in time to anchor the story and give it impact. Shimmering Images teaches the aspiring memoirist how to locate key memories using Lisa's technique for finding, linking, and fleshing out those vibrant recollections of important moments and situations. This book will address the difference between memoir and autobiography, how to claim your voice, the art of storytelling, honesty, truth, and compassion in writing, authentic dialogue and the need for specificity.
Readers will learn how to craft a short piece of narrative nonfiction grounded in their core memories and master a technique they can use over and over again for writing other narratives. A must-have book for anyone who has treasured Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott or Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
"Norton offers a . . . speedy and approachable read. Only slightly over 100 pages, it gets right to the point about the process of crafting a memoir. Norton's goal is to teach lay writers her own method of writing compassionate and arresting personal memoir. Her instruction focuses on the titular concept of ‘shimmering images'—memories of blazing detail, many only a moment or two in real time, which are imbedded in the mind from childhood forward. Norton first outlines the steps for conjuring these images and capturing them on paper. She then follows with simple instruction for selecting, organizing, and unifying the images. Norton's writing is friendly and refreshingly spare, with most chapters only a few pages long. Though she assures readers perhaps too many times of her years of experience teaching these methods, her book should serve writing novices especially well."—Stacey Rae Brownlie, Library Journal
"Never has there been a more compassionate gift to those who write. Shimmering Images is a clear-eyed, authentic vision of the art of storytelling. Norton gathers the inspirational winds in her sails, and gently propels the writer toward a place of knowing—that place where one can, at last, trust in the creative self."—Doris Booth, Editor-in-Chief, Authorlink.com
"Honest, taut, funny, useful, stimulating, graceful, and all those other lovely words, but best of all this book will make you sit your skinny butt in the chair and actually start typing, which is the point. A terrific book of operating instructions for giving birth to stories."—Brian Doyle, editor, Portland Magazine
"In Shimmering Images Lisa Dale Norton traces a clear stimulating path to writing a memoir. Norton starts with the ideas behind the process, how story transforms experience on the page. She then gives the step-by-step process that she has been teaching for decades—finding shimmering images (memory pictures) and weaving them into a whole. In the third part Norton looks at some of the tools to craft the process. In writing bighearted, compassionate stories, we contribute to changing the world. Norton's book is bighearted and compassionate. It is a gift to the reader."—Susan Tiberghien, author of One Year to a Writing Life
"This book shimmers with thought-provoking insights and truth, and Lisa Dale Norton's elegantly spare formula is a valuable addition to the literature on the topic. Even though she specifically addresses only the memoir form, her system of memory retrieval and organization will be useful to any life writer."—Sharon Lippincott, author of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing
"Lisa Dale Norton's practical and lively guide to writing memoir is like having your very own writing coach holding your hand and guiding you through your story with patience and humor. Her clear, good advice covers everything you'll need to start writing: the difference between memoir and autobiography, claiming your own voice, finding the heart of your story, and finally crafting it into a piece of work to send out into the world."—Barbara Abercrombie, author of Courage and Craft and Writing out the Storm
"Shimmering Images is an encouraging, smart, and surprisingly funny guide, full of well-tested exercises and approaches. Lisa Dale Norton teaches memoir writers how to get beyond blame and self-pity, how to find the compassion that leads to new insights, how to be ‘bone honest' with themselves. She is a very wise coach who understands that the writing process is the way to truth, that truth is complex and deep. This ‘handy little guide' will transform the lives of those who need to understand their pasts in order to change their futures—that is to say, all of us. Trust me, she says: and we do, we do."—Meg Files, author of Meridian 144, Home Is the Hunter, and Write from Life
"‘Shimmering Images' is how Lisa Norton describes those flashes of memory that haunt us on the brightest of days or in the darkest of tunnels when least expected. Indeed they are, fleeting moments in time we can not forget because we responded emotionally and our lives were forever changed. Moved to great heights of joy, we want to share our feelings with the world. Scarred by fear, anger or loss we want to dig deeper and recapture and share the hope and love that healed. Memoirists feel compelled to take this journey, and in her book Lisa Norton provides a map to show us where to begin, which way to turn, and most important, how to dig up and unlock the truths that were always there, waiting to be told. Anyone who has ever wanted to write memoir needs this precious little handbook to find out where and how to start, and better still, how to keep going in the right direction."—Penny Porter, author of Heartstrings and Tail-Tuggers and Adobe Secrets
"Shimmering Images is a practical, simple, and wonderfully concise guide for memoirists seeking to improve their craft as well as those who are just getting started."—Debra Ginsberg, author of Waiting, Raising Blaze, About My Sisters, and Blind Submission
"In Shimmering Images, Lisa Dale Norton gently takes you by the hand and leads you through the process of getting down the story of your life. You learn how to access your ‘shimmering images'—the people, places, and events that are the source of your most powerful stories. You discover how to connect these images to the key turning points in your personal journey, and weave them into the rich tapestry that is your life. Practical and inspiring, Shimmering Images is a must have for anyone contemplating writing a memoir."—Carol Franco, co-author of The Legacy Guide: Capturing the Facts, Memories, and Meaning of Your Life
"Like a smart friend in whom you can confide, Lisa Dale Norton leads you not only through the issues of craft you'll need in order to form your life stories into art, but—perhaps more importantly—through the emotional landscape such work requires. A thoughtful, helpful tool for anyone facing the challenge of memoir."—Samantha Dunn, author of Faith in Carlos Gomez
"Shimmering Images is every memoir writer's ideal guide. With eloquent simplicity borne of decades of teaching writing, Lisa Dale Norton has given us a map and a method that soars above all others."—Elizabeth Lyon, author of Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write and A Writer's Guide to Nonfiction
"Lisa Dale Norton's little book is a big-hearted treasure. She gives writers specific guidance, her voice one of passionate encouragement. Norton's message is that when getting going on a memoir, process means more than product—only through a disciplined and creative process can a writer experience the hard-won satisfaction that leads to a book. This spirited guide will be a desk side companion to memoirists old and new for years to come."—Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist
"Shimmering Images is the quintessential book on memoir writing and should be required reading for anyone who is thinking about crafting a memoir."—Jennifer McCord, past president of Pacific Northwest Writers Association
"Shimmering Images has what it takes to be an outstanding how-to book for aspiring writers. It is sound, fertile, imaginative; it guides the aspiring writer around the pitfalls and into the delights of turning memories into memoir. It inspires and grounds the writer with a combination of practical, easy-to-follow steps, a rationale for engaging in this challenging process in the first place and ways to sustain the effort for the long haul."—Muriel Dance, Ph.D., Director, Center for Continuing Education; Antioch University Seattle
Reviews from Goodreads
Chapter 1 - Memoir Versus Autobiography
Writing stories about your life is like plying the waters of some familiar yet exotic sea. It is the act of casting your sails for adventure.
Imagine it: The sun melts in a thousand shades of orange...