Last week I attended James River Writers’ “The Writing Show”. This month’s theme was “We’re not Making This Up: Writing Biographies and Personal Profiles.” Three talented scribes shared with the audience of writers – and one reader – their views and trade tips on writing biographies and personal profiles.
Bill Lohmann, Richmond Times Dispatch, offered up his plans to write a book about Dr. David B. Nichols and his thirty-one year community outreach journey with the residents on Tangier Island. Mr. Lohmann featured Dr. Nichols in his column twice, once to profile the good doctor’s works and the new medical clinic and the second time to write about Dr. Nichols’ illness. If you feel the urge to cry today, read Mr. Lohmann’s column about Dr. Nichols. I look forward to his book on the subject.
Nancy Schoenberger dished some chatter she encountered while writing Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century. One of her college students overheard her discussing the project with her husband (and co-author) and interrupted, “I never knew Liz Taylor was married to Tim Burton!” When the incident found its way to Ms. Taylor, she agreed to help Ms. Schoenberger write about the two 20th Century Hollywood giants and their lives together, least the world forget Richard Burton. Ms. Schoenberger shared that the biography format has changed. Instead of penning a chronological story, many authors are writing about a specific incident or a section of the person’s life such as her book on Elizabeth Taylor’s time as Mrs. Richard Burton.
Ellen F. Brown directed the group to read, read a lot, read the New Yorker, read your own work, and then read it again. She entertained us with some highlights of her experience of writing Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood. Fortunately, Ms. Brown had access to previously undisclosed private letters. When asked if these private letters revealed Ms. Mitchell’s intentions on whether Rhett and Scarlet get back together, Ms. Brown replied, “You’ll just have to read the book to find out!” Those interested in finding out can buy the book at The Fountain Bookstore.
The next “The Writing Show” is scheduled for April 28 featuring Lyrics, Limericks and Lines: The Power of Poetry and Song. Check out this great organization at JamesRiverWriters.org and I’ll see you at the next meeting.