Memoirs of the Soul by Nan Phifer, Jane Tompkins


Memoirs of the Soul teaches readers how to write about the times of wonder in their lives, the sources of their strength, their creativity, resilience and moments of personal transformation. Unlike traditional memoir writing, which focuses on retelling the events of one’s life, this book will help readers recognize and explore the spiritual aspects of themselves—their inner lives, their creativity and resilience. Although the word “spiritual” means different things to different people, Phifer associates it with times when readers have experienced particular states of grace, mercy, compassion, reverence, awe and intuitive knowing—a connection to someone or something.

Designed to be used by groups in a classroom setting as well as by individuals, Memoirs of the Soul leads readers through a process of self-exploration, resulting in a personal document to be shared with loved ones or published for all to enjoy.Nan Phifer has taught memoir-writing workshops and creative writing throughout the Northwest. The author of Writing Your Life: Developing Skills Through Life Story Writing and Writing for the Workplace, Phifer currently teaches a workshop entitled “Writing the Spiritual Memoir” through the Lane Literary Guild. She was Associate Director of the Oregon Writing Project at the University of Oregon.

She lives in Eugene, Oregon. “Books on memoir writing and spirituality are big sellers, especially among women and older readers. Some of the biggest sales in recent years have been racked up by books that reflect a uniquely contemporary search for…a personal spirituality.” —Publishers Weekly “Today, more than ever before…vast numbers of people are eager to spill the most minute details of their lives. For most, there is a desire to create a permanent record of their experiences and leave a legacy for their family.” —Time

Library Journal

Most of us have at some point mused about what it would be like to “look back into the souls of our ancestors.” In her latest book, Phifer (Writing Your Life), who teaches creative writing in Eugene, OR, shows readers how to create a glimpse of their soul for future generations by writing of “the great sweep of feelings” that shape their characters rather than aiming for what is commercially successful. Highlighting the differences between autobiographical writing and memoir writing, Phifer urges amateur writers to write of the “inner life,” or times of “joy or crisis or profound contentment.”

She offers a structured, well-organized process for writers to follow, which includes specific exercises, inspiring quotations, and examples of student work from her memoir-writing workshops. Although academic collections may prefer a more businesslike approach, such as Jane McDonnell’s Living To Tell the Tale: A Guide to Writing Memoir, this how-to is highly recommended for all public libraries. Angela Weiler, SUNY at Morrisville Lib. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.


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