About Palm of the Hand

Welcome to the Baraboo Palm of the Hand Memoir site. The UW-Baraboo/Sauk County and Baraboo Public Libraries have teamed up to create an ongoing group whose members write and share their memoirs.

In 2011, poet Michael Czarnecki gave a workshop on the theory and practice of Palm of the Hand Memoir writing.  His tips are below, or you can download a copy here.

  1. In jotting down memories don’t hesitate to write any that come to you. Don’t edit the memory, even if it’s not a memory you particularly enjoy having. Write only as many words as you need to recall the event then move on to a new memory. Pull out the list at random times and try to come up with more memories to add. This is your resource list for Palm of the Hand pieces you will write.

    Michael Czarnecki holding A Sand County Almanac

    Poet Michael Czarnecki

  2. When deciding on what PoH to write, trust your feeling in the moment. Scan through the list and see what memory grabs you.
  3. Before writing, just sit and be with the memory for a little while. Try to go back to the moment and recall as much as you can about the experience. Some things to consider: where, what time, smells, sounds, colors, emotions, etc.
  4. Stay as focused as possible on the experience itself. Add extraneous material only as needed.
  5. Remember, a PoH memoir is only about a particular event in your life. We often want to add too much to a story when maybe there’s 2, 3 or more individual PoH stories that revolve around a certain theme.
  6. These stories are your stories. Memoir is related to memory and is not necessarily a factual autobiography. You want to be as true as you can to the memory of the experience, but it is memory after all and we all know how fallible that is! Don’t fret the accuracy if you are being true to your recollection.
  7. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar! Get the story down in your own words. Let your voice ring out through the words on the page. Revision and correction can happen later.
  8. Write the best of your ability in the moment. The more you write the easier it will flow, the more confidence you will build, the better your writing will become.

Many would-be memoir writers put off writing because they feel they do not have time to sit down – with PoH, a memoir only takes a few minutes a day or half an hour once a week. A PoH a week will yield 52 stories about your life in the course of a year!

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