Zing Stories

FAQs on Life Story Writing

Q. My family and I are going to travel for a year. I'd like to write a book about it but that’s what everybody else seems to be doing. How do I make sure it happens?
A. Start with keeping a detailed travel diary. Hopefully a travel companion can simultaneously take heaps of photos. Once the trip's over, study the market to see how your story measures up. Are you prepared to spend a year or so on getting a full-length book ready for publication? Perhaps not … but invest a couple of weeks and you can create something invaluable for your family and descendants. Many consider this the best, the most achievable outcome of all.
Q. I’m challenged by copyright issues.
A. You own what you create – unless you sign it away. That means if there’s a commercial value in what you have written, it’s yours to gain from. You’ll become more comfortable with how copyright works in practice as you publish. Membership of The Copyright Agency is vital.
Q. Is there a therapeutic value in writing a life story?
A. People often say there is. (Isn't everything we do therapeutic, potentially?) The Zing Stories focus is on writing. Whilst careful support is given, it doesn't extend to therapy.
Q. Have you written your life story?
A. Yes. My two poetry collections are hybrids: life/poetry, life/travel/poetry. ‘Korea in the Year of the Mountain’ in Writing Samples is an example of a short autobiographical essay; longer ones are published too eg in Griffith Review. I’ve completed a full-length topic memoir but, for family reasons, I'm not hurrying it towards publication at this point.
Q. What books should I read?
A. How-To books like Patti Miller's Writing Your Life or Carmel Bird's Writing the Story of Your Life. If you 'go it alone', consider getting a writing buddy or joining a writing group. Keep in mind acceptance into a university course could be the making of your career as a writer.
Q. I'm writing a family history. Can you help?
A. Indeed yes. I used family history techniques when researching my historical novel for my MA thesis (2001). Groups such as Family History Societies get tailor-made presentations. I can recommend the 'Food Glorious Food' workshop ... the writing produced during the day is always lively and really brings the past to life. (You can smell, see, feel, hear and taste the past on the page!) And to date, every family historian who's come to a RLS workshop has reported benefits, if not ecstacy. The mix of family historians, memoirists and experimenters in these workshops always proves fantastic!
Q. When is a private consultation advisable?
A. Whenever in-depth, confidential attention is needed, such as:
  • before sending to an agent/publisher
  • when writing basics have gotten rusty
  • you need to restructure
  • you need advice about self-publishing
  • you’re struggling and want nobody to know
  • you need help to wrap it up
  • you’re famous and demand total confidentiality
  • you need a ghost-writer and can afford to pay. (Think $65 000 pa!) Serious writers who can invest $3000 - $4000 are never disappointed.
  • an older relative needs special consideration.

Practice makes perfect.

Maleny writers

Lesley’s workshops are packed with readings, writing exercises, discussion, a recommended reading list, and individual attention.

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