You’ve always wanted to write the story of your life, but didn’t know where to begin. Or, you’ve felt the tug to set things down on paper, but thought you were too busy. Or that no one would care. Or both. If any of these things ring true for you, author, teacher and founder of the Santa Fe Writing Institute, Lisa Dale Norton has written the book you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir (St. Martin’s Griffin) is spare, slender and entirely to the point. In her introduction, Norton writes that the book “gives you the steps without a lot of fancy mumbo jumbo about literature and books you haven’t read and never will.”

Despite this grassroots-ish sounding advice, Norton manages to chase through to the beauty and spirit of powerful storytelling. As Norton says:

Story, the essence of narrative, is art. Writing life stories borders on the mystical because you, the writer, become the master of reality. You make sense of chaos. You bring order to life events through narrative; you attach meaning to events. The act is more than reporting facts; it is an act of creation. Art is creation. Memoir is art.

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