Monthly Archives: August 2020

Memories, Memoirs and Essays.

Every essay that is a story from our past, whether it happened last week or fifty years ago is a memoir.

My paternal grandparents while my grandfather was s soldier
A plaque in memory of the kindertransport children who came to England – my mother was one of them.

But in  order for it to be a publishable essay it has to resonate with the reader. You have to have learned something from it . You have to have changed because of the incident. You need to be able to show that what you thought  before this happened,  is not the same as what you thought after the incident

Some people have no problem recalling  relevant stories from their past and have no difficulty turning the funny incident that happened last week into a  story that will sell to one of the many publications and websites that  publish essays.

But what if you do find it difficult to remember those priceless memories?

What if  the only memories you can dredge up are those of   nothing-ever-happens-to-me schooldays  or the same-as-everybody-else college years.

Memory Triggers

Here are a few tricks to get that old memory back into working order.


Unearth some  old photo albums. Look at photos of your childhood, your birthday parties, school photos ( search out your old friends on them) school outings.


Check out college / seminarĀ  photos, pics taken on vacation, photos of your previous homes both childhood andĀ  apartments you rented as a single or previous homes since you’ve been married.

Go even further back and ask your parents or grandparents if you can go through their family albums. Yo may find photos of relatives you never knew existed . Ask about them while you have a chance.

If all your photos are digital, set  your computer to ‘view all’ or whatever it is on your program and sit back with a pen and notebook and watch them all slowly, making notes of memories they dredge up.


If you are able to, go back to the place where you were born, where you grew up, walk around  your old schools and  colleges. You’d be surprised how the memories come flooding back.


Although it’s good fun to go over old times with friends your memories are your very own and may not match up with others at all. Everyone experiences things differently, sees events through different lenses and consequently remembers them differently and different aspects of events stick in their memories.

If you need to check up on certain verifiable facts such as dates and places then do so, but let your  memory of the event shine through your memoir or essay.


To make your memory into a publishable essay it needs to leave the reader with some message, you need to make your memory universal in its message.

Perhaps an unhappy memory about school taught you to be more sensitive to your children.

But your memory doesn’t have to be unhappy or even traumatic to be essay worthy.

A happy memory baking with your grandmother made you understand the importance of keeping family traditions and ensuring your children remain in touch with all their relatives.

Once you have found a universal message, remember to use all five senses when writing – sight,smell,touch,hearing and taste with lots of details to bring the story alive.

Then check your intended publication/website’s guidelines and make sure your essay fits in with their requirements – and when you’re sure it’s the best you can make it ….

click SEND


Writing well is always important – but it’s no use writing a great article/essay and then submitting it at the wrong time, almost guaranteeing rejection.

Timing your submissions can be extremely important

Here’s how to ensure you don’t ruin your chances before your submission has even been read.

cleaning for Pesach

1. Let’s say it’s a week before Pesach and you’re knee deep in cleaning. Suddenly you have this great idea for streamlining the whole process and getting it done in record time. So you happily take a break from cleaning, sit down at your computer and run off a terrific article. You’re about to click send…


If you’re in middle of preparations for an event it’s almost always too late to submit an article about it for this year.
Write the article- or at least make extensive notes – and file it under ‘submit next year two months before Pesach’

2. You read an article which you totally disagree with and race to your computer to run off your rebuttal article.

writing a quick rebuttal


Publications almost never print rebuttal articles. People who disagree with an article write a ‘letter to the editor’ and they are printed there . No fee is paid of course for these letters.

If it’s an article connected to a specific event/ time of year/ anniversary then write away …… and file it for sending next year , two months before the date.

yahrzeit candle

3. It’s two weeks before a famous person’s yahrzeit , anniversary of their death, and you’ve just had this great idea for an article to write. You know it’s very short notice but this new insight and information is so amazing that you’re sure they’ll want to print it.


Check – did you put VERY TIME SENSITIVE in the subject line. If you didn’t it’s quite possible that it wont even be looked at in time

4. You’re busy writing various articles about Purim. One on kids dressing up outfits, one on mishloach manot, a great one for the seudah menu.
Exhausted and happy at having got them all done in time, you click send on the final one just after Tu B’shvat …… and sit back and relax.


well I really mean’t don’t stop

No time to relax now – it’s time to start on your Pesach queries/ submissions. Pesach and Sukkot are peak times at Jewish publications. Extra large issues are published which need a lot of material – but they need it early as it requires a lot of planning to get these super large issues out.

5. Shavuot is over but you have a great idea for an article about Sefirat HaOmer ( The counting of the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot).
You’re scared that you’ll forget about it by next year, so, full of enthusiasm you write this great piece and decide you’ll leave it to the editor to accept and file away away for next year. You’re about to click send…


It’s possible the editor will laugh at your bad timing. That’s not the reaction you want.
Wait another eight months and then send it.

If you have ever done this and were fortunate enough to receive an acceptance, then be aware that it’s likely to get lost during the next eight months until it’ll be of immediate interest to the editor.
You need to be the one to remind her nearer the time (politely of course) that she has accepted your article.