By Joe Fiorito
I have just retired from a 36-year career in journalism; some of that time was spent as a CBC manager and radio producer; most of the time, I was a newspaper columnist. During those years, I managed to write a memoir and a novel and several other books; my latest is a collaborative effort, the memoir of one of Canada’s most notorious bank robbers.
But whether I was writing for radio or for the newspapers, or trying to make literature, all my work involved a reliance on the basic principles of narrative: give me a character, give me the details, let there be something at stake in the story, and if I have these things then I will take responsibility for laying all of it out with a beginning, a middle and an end.
The point of any writing, regardless of the form, is to show who we are, where we are, and how we are; but because there are only a few different kinds of story, each one of them depends for its singularity on an underpinning of close observation.
Because it’s all in the details; that’s what distinguishes one work from another, and it is what will make your own memoir stand out.
As for observation, and for what passes as truth, I remind you that if a dozen people see a thing, you will get a dozen versions of what happened; this is one of the hard realities of the memoir, and it is just one of the many things we will discuss in the workshop.
I’m looking forward to coming home.
If you are interested in registering for the Joe Fiorito workshop on Memoir, sponsored by NOWW on Saturday, November 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., follow this link: https://www.nowwwriters.ca/workshops.html
Joe Fiorito is a journalist who has worked a city columnist for the Montreal Gazette, The Globe&Mail, The National Post and the Toronto Star newspapers. He won the National Newspaper Award for Columns in 1995; the Brassani Prize for Short Fiction in 2000; and the City of Toronto Book Award in 2003.
He is the author of seven books:
Comfort Me With Apples (collection of columns)
Tango On The Main (collection of columns)
The Closer We Are To Dying (memoir)
The Song Beneath The Ice (novel)
Union Station (non-fiction)
Rust Is A Form Of Fire (non-fiction)
His most recent book, The Life Crimes and Hard Times of Ricky Atkinson, Leader of the Dirty Tricks Gang, has just been published.
He is married, lives in Toronto and is currently at work on his first collection of poetry.