Here’s A Chance to Share Your Very Own Memoir With The World

I am always honest with you, so I have a teeny tiny confession to make. A while ago I told y’all to add your queer voices to the Sketchbook Project, and I told you I was going to do it too, and then… I didn’t. I meant to, I swear! I paid the $25 and got the sketchbook and everything. But life got hectic and can I tell you a secret in the name of honesty? I think I was a little bit scared of the project. See, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to be the best sketchbook in the world. It had to encompass my whole soul, ya know? So I kept waiting to make The Perfect Thing and then when the deadline arrived I had no thing at all.

But I’ve been given a chance to redeem myself!

I’m going to participate in The Memoir Project and of course I think you should too.

The good people at Art House Coop, the organization responsible for The Sketchbook Project and countless other art activities both large and small, are always coming up with new schemes to inspire creativity. The Memoir Project is one of their latest creations and I think it might be relevant to your interests. Here’s how they describe the project.

The Memoir Project is our first handwritten collection of true stories from individuals around the world. 500 participants are asked to sit down and reflect on their own lives. Take pause and hand write a story that defines you. Your memoir can be the story of your whole existence or a specific point in your life. This collection will travel in our Mobile Library and eventually be installed in our permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library, preserving a common human history through the eyes of those that lived it.

As someone who is constantly trying to tear herself away from technology (I say, as I type this on the computer at 4am) and recommit to journaling the old-fashioned way in my Moleskin notebook, I appreciate the tangible nature of this project so much. My goal as a writer is always to write more but recently I’ve decided that I also want to write with more focus. A book focused on words is less intimidating to me than a blank sketchbook (this blank book comes with lined pages, not blank pages, and I swear to god for me that makes a huge difference in feeling capable versus feeling frozen with fear). And I am really, really, really excited to add my queer story to this library that will preserve “a common human history.” What I mean to say is, this project is everything I never knew I needed.

vanessa friedman

©  Vanessa Friedman 2013

The Memoir Project is not cheap – it’s $60 to participate – but it comes with some perks that The Sketchbook Project did not include. As well as receiving an official (lined!) sketchbook you’ll also automatically be signed up for the option of digitizing your final product, a thing that was opt-in (and cost extra) with the original Sketchbook Project. You’ll also receive a Sketchbook Project sleeping bag, and your finished book will go on a 3 city tour in the official Mobile Library, culminating with entry into the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library. You will also have the opportunity to possibly read your memoir at one of the exhibitions, though you definitely won’t have to so if speaking in public isn’t your thing!

The deadline for this project is June 1, 2013, and the participation limit is 500 people. I think this is an excellent opportunity for anyone who considers themselves a writer, anyone who wants to push themselves to write more, anyone who thinks nice handwriting is a lost art, anyone who has a story to tell and anyone who was intimidated by the art aspect of the original Sketchbook Project but feels a little bit more comfortable around lines and words than paint and plain blank pages. I also think this is the perfect project for absolutely anybody because I am a big believer in the idea that we are all artists and storytellers and creative beings and also queer visibility is so important. Writing your story is making yourself visibile. The world needs to hear more queer stories, and we need to keep telling them. This is a chance to do that. And if you’re really worried that you can’t do it I’ll just remind you that Jenny Schecter totally got herself a book deal and lez be real, we all know you’re better than Jenny.

Let me know if you decide to participate in The Memoir Project and we can motivate each other to write write write until June!

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


  1. After this my debit card is going to be on lock down because I have spent WAY too much money lately and I don’t get paid that much… sigh. But, as a fellow writer I could not turn down this opportunity. I signed up and I believe you promised to help motivate me, I’ll probably need it.

  2. It’s a fantastic concept;I like that it can be about a specific point in a persons life. Opens it up to younger people to share experinces. Would be great to see the finished memoirs available online.

    Despite my saying it lends itself to younger participation, it’s not something I would yet take part in, mostly because I’m young but also because I find writing to be a frustrating experience – I always struggled getting my ideas and thoughts down on paper. I do have a title for my memoir though – Emma: A life not yet lived interspersed with moments of licentious behaviour. Which is a start at least!

  3. This is really great! Ever since my step-dad died (who was my best friend) I haven’t had any motivation to do anything except…well… sleep and eat. This truly came at the perfect time. I have a little bit of extra money so I am signing up tomorrow when I get paid.

  4. Haha, Vanessa, I feel your first paragraph. Yeeeeahh, I too have an exceedingly expensive empty sketchbook in a corner of my flat.

  5. This is the greatest thing I’ve heard of in a while and I want to thank you for posting about this. Just ordered mine!


    Lemme see if they still need memoirists.

  7. I wonder how many people never submit their sketchbook. The night before the deadline found me frantically trying to complete mine, and I ended up with 8 pages that I’m not completely happy with.

  8. hi Vanessa I found your comment while searching round to see what people thought of the new Memoir project.
    thanks for your Sketchbook bit – yes I almost didnt do mine this year, then at the last gasp I put something – pretty rough, together. They still receive them, even if not toured that year – thought id say that too. If you send your little other one to them, late or otherwise, it will still go into the Brooklyn art library from what i”ve read…. if you felt to do it later on ie…

    I’ve been looking at the Memoir one too, looks interesting, even if its dearer. Thanks for the inspiration, it can be scary but … ‘with fear in one hand and courage in the other’ .. I step forward hopefully!

    have a good weekend there

  9. I really want to do this… but I don’t have the money :( I hope they have some kind of scholarship fund so people who can’t afford it (not me, people who could never, ever afford it, you know?) can still tell their stories. I’d love to read a collection of memoirs from people still living the struggle.

    But you know? I think I’m going to do it anyway. Buy a nice notebook, write a memoir and keep it somewhere special. Maybe when I die people will find it and be all surprised about my life, LOL!

    Thanks for sharing. I hope one day to make it to New York to see these projects live. This is such a fantastic, important idea.

  10. Yeh Launa
    I reckon do it anyway is a great idea, no matter who we write for, its out there in some form or another! I think they’d be able to support some people to tell their story, money or no money, truly… theyre pretty basic journals, really… your life and experience is what counts!

  11. I had the page tabbed for a couple of days…finally decided to take a deep breath and just do it :)

  12. Just wanted to jump on and hope for some encouragement for my memoir project…it’s gonna be interesting come June 01.

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