memoir and diary writing »

Apprenticed to Venus

May 2, 2017 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

As Director of CAS I want to tell you why I, who have nurtured so many other peoples’ memoirs to publication, finally felt free to write my own memoir about my mentor Anais Nin and why it took me so long to address the subject and begin the book.

What follows is the preface that I wrote for the opening of Apprenticed to Venus to be published July 11, 2017 by Arcade. It was cut from the final edit of the book for reasons of length. I put it here because I suspect I am not the only diarist to to feel nauseated upon reading the outpourings of a younger self.



Hawaii, 2006

I don’t know how the L.A. Times journalist got my phone number at the remote Hawaii house I co-owned. She had interrupted my prep for a filmmaking class I was teaching that summer for the … Read the rest

memoir and diary writing »

Anais, a Dance Opera at the Greenway Court Theater

September 7, 2016 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

John Ferrone, memoir and diary writing »

Remembering John Ferrone who died 4/10/2016

April 19, 2016 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

Anaïs Nin introduced me to John Ferrone, her Harcourt Brace Jovanovich editor, at her Silverlake, California house where she lived as the wife of Rupert Pole. John, a New Yorker, knew her other husband, Hugo Guiler, as well, and was privy to the secret of Anaïs’ double life. As one of the most grace-full men I have known, both in his manner and his movements, he was at ease in the world of sexual/emotional discretion. He’d lived the life of an undisguised gay man of 1950’s New York, and it was a world he negotiated with integrity and subtlety.

In 1978 when I published my first book The New Diary in hardbound, John made an offer to my publisher, Jeremy Tarcher, for Harcourt to acquire the paperback rights. Although he was contractually obligated to inform me of the offer, Tarcher without my knowledge rejected the Harcourt offer out of hand. … Read the rest

memoir and diary writing »

Notice of private memoir-in-progress class in Brentwood, CA

November 3, 2015 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

Tristine Rainer, Ph.D. will be offering a private works-in-progress class in Brentwood, CA that will begin on Saturday, January 23, 2016 from 1-3 PM and continue every other week: Feb 6, Feb 20, March 5, April 2, and April 16 and 30. With that commitment you can get serious about your writing.  The class will be limited to 10 participants.

If you are interested in getting more information about the class please use the Contact link at the top of this home page.  Please include one or two sentences describing the memoir you would be working on.


Read the rest

memoir and diary writing, Memoir writing »

Guest Blog: Our Transformation from a Journalling Circle to Creating a Book (Wendy and Ahava Writes)

May 18, 2015 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

GUEST BLOG: Our Transformation from a Journalling Circle to Creating a Book (Wendy and Ahava Writes) Wendy Writes

We had been meeting for about two years. It just began to be clear to us, at that point, that we were not just journalling together but were embarking upon a larger project. I suppose we each dreamed into this new phase and it just felt right to us. We continued to journal together but, as we decided to type up some of our entries, we realised that this was not only for ourselves but we sensed it could be inspiration to others, as well. And then the momentum shifted and we began to bring together aspects from some of our individual work and formulating ideas together which became our “Four Practices” and then “Seven Principles.”

I had been teaching writing, literature and women’s studies for many years, as well as facilitating … Read the rest

memoir and diary writing »

Instant memoir as a treatment for trauma?

April 24, 2014 | 1 Comment | by Tristine Rainer


For the past decade, subsequent to publishing Your Life as Story, I have been interested in developing a form of instant memoir, a new form of diary writing that incorporates the narrative structure of memoir with the immediacy of journal writing. A cross between diary and memoir that offers the benefits of both. In Your Life as Story I distinguished between diary and memoir this way: “the difference between diary and autobiography is that elusive partner in the process, time. The diarist writes from an ever-moving present. Autobiographic writing is written from a later point in time, in retrospect. The autobiographic writer, to a far greater extent than the diarist, re-members the past to find within it thematic continuity and coherent meaning.”

What if, I’ve been asking myself, one could write significant episodes, particularly traumatic ones, without waiting for the alchemy of Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquility?” What if, … Read the rest

memoir and diary writing, Memoir writing »

A Guided Tour of Select Travel Memoirs by Tristine Rainer

October 12, 2013 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

Having recently been interviewed on how to structure travel memoir so it might interest someone besides one’s Facebook or Instagram fans, I dug out an essay I wrote back in the day when CAS stamped and snail-mailed a “First Person” quarterly to donors. Here for this digital medium’s brevity demands, is a new, short version:

We’ll be leaving the Hilton immediately and with it all glossy travel articles that are really an indirect form of advertising. Semi-promotional travel writing has nothing to do with the exploration of self that we’re pursuing in literary travel memoir.

So let’s pause here for the first rule before taking off on a narrative journey: SET UP A DESIRE LINE. What is your dream about your intended adventure?  What are you hoping for? For instance, in two of the early bestselling travel memoirs, Peter Mayle, A Year in Provence and Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan … Read the rest

Memoir writing »

It’s never too late for romantic love or for writing memoir

August 5, 2013 | 1 Comment | by Tristine Rainer

Guest blog from Evelyn De Wolfe

It’s never too late for love and passion, even in one’s eighties. Nor is it too late to share it in a memoir, when that experience turns out to be the most romantic in our lives. Yet, having never tackled this mode of self-expression before, I was daunted by the thought of publically revealing the intimacies between two seniors.

Friends finally convinced me that my unusual late-life love affair was added proof that love, though perishable is ageless. I am glad I allowed myself to be convinced because now having preserved something so rare and fragile has allowed me, and continues to allow me, to relive the beauty and depth of the emotions I experienced with Juan.

I went browsing with some trepidation in bookstores searching for how-to memoir books that would offer guidelines on how to free my imprisoned shyness and reluctance to … Read the rest

memoir and diary writing »


October 25, 2012 | 2 Comments | by Tristine Rainer

By Emma J. Stephens

Author of For A Dancer: The Memoir

                  I once attended a movie premiere with my friend, its director.  The success of his independent film hinged on good reviews, so I was surprised to learn that he had no intention of viewing them.  His reasoning was, “People will tell me the good ones.”  I assumed being an artist required the courage and understanding that not everyone will be a fan (which is probably why I gravitated toward subjects in school with definite answers like math), so his behavior seemed a bit fragile.  Now, after the release of my memoir, which was not just an exposure of my writing ability but also my life, I realize the damage that can be done to one’s creative spirit if their work is disliked.  This fear of disapproval is what keeps many from embarking on the vulnerable journey of self-expression.

I … Read the rest

memoir and diary writing »

Jonah Lehrer vs James Frey

August 18, 2012 | POST A COMMENT | by Tristine Rainer

In her Aug. 13 blog “The Ethics of Being a Nonfiction Writer” author Diana Raab explores the confusing, shifting and disappearing boundaries between fact and fiction in the scandals of Jonah Lehrer and James Frey.  This blog is in dialog with hers.

I, too, am troubled by the discrediting of James Frey and more recently Jonah Lehrer, authors exposed as liars when it was uncovered that they misrepresented events in Frey’s case and quotes in Lehrer’s that never existed.  I’m not a fan of either Frey or Lehrer, but not for the reasons they were discredited.  I find the work of both men inauthentic in the deepest sense, so I have no desire to defend them.  But I am concerned by the discourse about them: lumping of all nonfiction, as different as journalism and memoir, in the same basket.

Jonah Lehrer in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works was … Read the rest